Spain's national soccer player Cesc Fabregas attends a training session at the Olympic stadium in Kiev

Chelsea board may want Fábregas, but Mourinho sees needs elsewhere

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Last night, news connecting Cesc Fábregas to Chelsea emerged, something that seemed like a good fit, on paper. With time to follow-up, reports out of England have added a new twist to the Barcelona star’s transfer story: Chelsea’s manager may not share the same excitement as his board.

According to The Independent, José Mourinho would like Chelsea to look elsewhere to bolster his third place squad. Those places include: Atlético Madrid, where Koke is being targeted; Juventus, where Paul Pogba is the object of many teams’ desires; and Porto, where central defender Eliaquim Mangala has drawn the Blues’ attention. With young Brazilian Oscar reportedly meeting Mourinho’s need for creativity in midfield, Chelsea may not be among Fábregas’s main suitors.

From The Independent:

Jose Mourinho is not convinced Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, with whom he has had several run-ins in the past, is the right player for Chelsea, with the Stamford Bridge board apparently far more enthusiastic about the purchase than the manager …

Mourinho will also have to put aside his past disputes with Fabregas if the west London side are to provide a return route to the Premier League for the 27-year-old former Arsenal player.

Fabregas said four months ago that his Barcelona side’s critics – he meant Mourinho – should “shut up” after the Spaniards’ win at Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16. “Some people want us to fail and some people have been talking a bit much as usual,” Fabregas said, pointedly.

If Chelsea can land Pogba and Koke, they certainly don’t need Fábregas. You can argue that you can never have too much quality in the middle, but in a world of Financial Fair Play, spending because you can is no longer a justifiable approach. The $45 million it may cost to get Fábregas (and, the wages he’ll demand) may be better spent elsewhere; or, for a team that’s pushing the limits of FFP, not at all.

Where would this leave Fábregas? Assuming he both departs Barcelona and is targeting England, Liverpool and Manchester United would seem logical options. Tottenham is another team that could justify the move, but as is the case with Manchester United, Fábregas may think twice before moving out of Champions League. As a former Gunner, he also may have misgivings about moving to such a heated rival.

So what does that leave? A move to a place like Paris Saint-Germain? FFP problems will keep the Parisians from completing that deal. Perhaps Monaco, just now coming under FFP’s guidelines, will take the plunge, but will the interest be reciprocated?

Elsewhere in Europe, there are very few teams can afford Fábregas’s transfer fee or wages (over $8 million per season). With that in mind, going to a place like United or Spurs and moving out of Champions League (if only momentarily) may make some sense.

If Fábregas is going to leave Barcelona, and if teams like Arsenal and Chelsea are not interested, he may not have that many viable options.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.