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West Ham agrees big fee for Pachuca, World Cup star Enner Valencia


With one transfer swoop, West Ham United may have gone from goal-starved to a feeding frenzy.

West Ham and Pachuca have agreed to a fee for Ecuadorian star forward Enner Valencia. After starring for La Tricolor at the World Cup, the 25-year-old will now head to the Premier League pending a physical.

The money is believed to be close to $25 million, which is about what West Ham paid to bring Andy Carroll over from Liverpool.

A strike force of Carroll and Valencia could be major trouble for opponents, which would be a major shift from 2013/14. The Hammers only scored 40 goals last season and were shut out in 15 of 38 Premier League contests, with an injury to Carroll hurting the offense.

From West Ham’s site:

The Hammers fought off competition from a host of Europe’s leading clubs to secure the services of the 25-year-old from Mexican side Pachuca.

Valencia, who impressed hugely in scoring three goals for his country at the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, will join West Ham on a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

Prior to his eye-catching World Cup performances, Valencia came to the attention of English football fans when he headed Ecuador in front in their pre-tournament draw with Roy Hodgson’s side in Miami.

In Brazil, he picked up where he had left off by opening the scoring in Ecuador’s first group-stage fixture against Switzerland. He then netted both goals as the South Americans defeated Honduras 2-1, taking his tally to seven in 13 internationals.

Valencia becomes West Ham’s fifth summer signing following the captures of Argentine forward Mauro Zarate, Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, left-back Aaron Cresswell and promising youngster Diego Poyet.

It’s a big coup for the Hammers, who struggled to survive the Premier League schedule last season. Pachuca will be hard-pressed to replace the reigning Liga MX goal leader, as Valencia’s 12 goals were three higher than anyone else in the Clausura.

“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.