Toni Kroos confirms Real Madrid move, where will he slot in?


German World Cup winner Toni Kroos is expected to officially be unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Thursday, as the central midfielder is set to sign for the reigning European Champions.

Following Germany’s 1-0 World Cup final win over Argentina on Sunday, Kroos reportedly confirmed to Brazilian news outlet UOL that he’s heading to the Spanish capital to play for Real after spending his entire career at Bayern Munich.

[ RELATED: PST’s team of the World Cup ]

Kroos has long been chased by Manchester United in the Premier League, and plenty of Europe’s biggest clubs, but it looks a certainty that he is set to sign for Carlo Ancelotti at the Santiago Bernabeu. Kroos is said to have agreed a five-year at Real and his $30 million transfer will be confirmed in the next 48 hours.

The 24-year-old is certainly looking forward to his Spanish switch.

“We’ve finished the World Cup in the best way possible. Now I’m going to Madrid, so that’s two dreams achieved,” Kroos said.

How have Real picked up one of the best midfielders at the World Cup for just $30 million? Kroos only has one year left on his current Bayern deal and the Bavarian giants wanted to try and cash in on his talents instead of potentially losing him for nothing at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Real are getting one of the finest midfielders of a generation. The way Kroos caresses the ball with pace and precision from right to left, the fact that always seems to be available and isn’t afraid to shoot (his two goals in the World Cup semifinal proved that) will turn him into a fans favorite. Playing in a box-to-box role or supporting a lone striker, Kroos’ vision and ability to keep the ball will help Real get their attacks going.

Kroos is likely to line up in central midfield as the more attacking player in front of a holder such as Xabi Alonso or Sami Khedira, and act as the link to Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Imagine Kroos’ pinpoint passes playing in Ronaldo and Bale?

He should slot in just fine at Real.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.