Liverpool agrees $24 million fee with Sunderland for Fabio Borini

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Two months after Fabio Borini proved crucial to Sunderland’s Premier League survival, the Black Cats don’t want to enter their new season without him, part of the reason the club is willing to pay top dollar for somebody who’s failed to making an impact with his parent club.

That may also explain why Liverpool, after recently parting ways with Luis Suárez, is willing to do the same with Borini. According to multiple reports, the Reds have agreed to accept Sunderland’s $23.9 million (£14m) bid for their Italian striker, with the 23-year-old now free to negotiate personal terms for a potentially permanent move.

From reporting by The Telegraph:

[Borini] was a priority signing for the Black Cats, but after an earlier valuation of £10 million was rejected, terms were agreed on Friday.

The 23-year-old becomes the second Liverpool striker to depart the club this month, following Luis Suarez. Their combined sale of £89 million significantly swells Brendan Rodgers’ transfer kitty for the rest of the summer as Liverpool prepare to be Europe’s biggest spenders.

Given how much Liverpool’s invested to get the team back into Champions League, we’ll see how much money gets funneled back into the squad. Regardless, the sales give Rodgers the option of bringing in another impact player, with the team’s thinning numbers in attack making striker a priority.

As of now, Daniel Sturridge and Ricky Lambert are the team’s only established central strikers, with talents like Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling capable of providing production from wide. Though yesterday we marveled at depth the Reds have accumulated elsewhere on the pitch, the potential departure of Borini leaves the team thin up top, particularly in the face of Champions League concerns.

Despite that, cashing in on Borini is probably the smart move. Though the 23-year-old has been successful in loan stints at Swansea City, Roma, and Sunderland, he’s failed to produce while on the books at Chelsea and Liverpool. In 28 all-competition appearances for the two titans, Borini’s scored two goals.

Thankfully for the Black Cats, his production at Sunderland dwarfed that total. In 40 appearances, Borini scored 10 times, with three goals in League Cup helping Poyet’s team reach Wembley. With four goals in five games at the end of the Premier League season, Borini was crucial to Sunderland’s surge out of the cellar, helping the Black Cats complete what some labeled a miraculous survival run.

From the Black Cats point of view, Borini has become a proven player – somebody that’s a better bet than another talent that would demand that fee. And for Liverpool, the opportunity to cash in on somebody who’s failed to make an impact at Anfield gives the team a chance to find another option.

In that sense, it’s a deal that makes too much sense for both sides, one that will hopefully spark a long, successful career for the potential Italian international. All that’s left is agreeing to those personal terms.

UEFA Champions League semifinal predictions

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With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League to kick off over the next few days, let’s take a look at both games and predict which teams will make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

Liverpool or Roma? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?

Here’s the lowdown as two eagerly anticipated games take center stage across Europe.


Liverpool vs. AS Roma
First leg: Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m. ET at Anfield
Second leg: May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET at Stadio Olimpico

This should be one heck of a tie with defending optional for both teams but both have very different ways of playing. Jurgen Klopp will unleash the fluid trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on an often brittle Roma defense but the Italian giants have a giant in their own up top in the shape of Edin Dzeko. How Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s defense deal with the threat of Dzeko will likely decide the outcome of this game. Liverpool will look to feed off the famous Anfield atmosphere to wrack up a big first leg lead before they head to Roma for Leg 2, and I fancy Salah to blow his old team away in the first leg. Liverpool to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg: Apr. 25, 2:45 p.m. ET at Allianz Arena
Second leg: May 1, 2:45 p.m. ET at Santiago Bernabeu

A proper heavyweight clash as Bayern and Real do battle knowing that whoever wins will be the favorites in the final. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life (again) after a slow start to this season and Zinedine Zidane’s side made hard work of it against Juventus in the last round but are on course for a third-straight UCL trophy. As for Bayern, they have been in imperious form and you feel like Robert Lewandowski can get the better of Real’s center backs. Expect this to be a tight game with extremely high quality from both teams. Real being at home in the second leg is a big advantage. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. 

Cologne’s Hector extends contract despite likely relegation

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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Germany defender Jonas Hector has shunned reported interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by extending his contract with Cologne – despite the club’s almost certain relegation from the Bundesliga.

Cologne, eight points from safety with three games remaining, says its 27-year-old captain has signed a two-year extension to 2023 instead of using a release clause in his contract.

Hector, who has been at the club since 2010, says, “It wouldn’t have been a problem to switch to another club after this season but it didn’t feel right for me. I belong to Cologne and want to tackle the new season with the team and the fans behind us.”

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says Hector’s decision is, “a great signal for the team, the club and our fans.”

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.