Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Everton in pursuit of Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder Muhamed Besic

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Multiple sources indicate that Everton are closing in on a $6.9 million transfer for Ferencvaros midfielder Muhamed Besic.

Speculation over the Bosnian’s transfer to Goodison Park has been rife for well over a month and, despite a false-alarm last Friday that a deal was in place, all indications are that Besic will be joining the Toffee midfield by the start of the Premier League season.

Born in Berlin, Besic began his career with Hamburg before disciplinary issues limited his first-team appearances and prompted the club to sell him to Hungarian side Ferencvaros in 2012. It was there that Besic earned a name for himself making 50 appearances for the club over the course of two seasons.

A player with great versatility Besic can play as center-back, right-back or holding midfielder, where his tough-tackling and fiery temper enables him to excel at breaking up play and frustrating the opposition. Which is exactly what Lionel Messi experienced in Argentina’s first group stage match against Bosnia-Herzegovina when the 21-year-old’s tireless engine frustrated La Pulga. Besic went on to feature in all three of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup matches.

Capturing Besic’s signature would be a major coup for Everton boss Roberto Martinez as his side look to maintain their Premier League success while also making a name for themselves in the Europa League. Those kind of lofty hopes require depth and Besic prove a key cog in spelling James McCarthy and Gareth Barry in the holding midfield role.

The Bosnian’s presence would also allow Martinez to use Leon Osman’s creativity in a more advanced role, where he is better suited. Besic’s presence could, however, spell trouble for Darron Gibson, who is recovering from knee ligament damage suffered last October. While most feel the Republic of Ireland international will remain at Everton there are whispers that Besic’s presence, and Burnley’s interest, could prompt the sale of Gibson.

Additional value for Besic comes in his ability to play as a center-back where he’ll provide added depth to Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, John Stones and Shane Duffy. While the time-proven combination of Jagielka and Distin will be the expected starting partnership, Stones will undoubtedly factor in after his glittering performances last spring. With Duffy waiting in the wings, it would seem there’s little need for Besic except that transfer rumors continue to rage over Stones. Given Martinez’ nurturing of Stones, selling the 20-year-old feels highly unlikely. Adding Besic, however, does provide cover.

From all indications, Besic would factor in perfectly to the balanced squad Martinez seeks to create. His temper will need some adjusting but no better role models for that than Barry, Jagielka and Distin. His youth will need inspiring but no better confidants than Stones, McCarthy and Ross Barkley.

It’s not a question of whether the piece fits but rather, when it will be added.

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.