Real Madrid sign James Rodriguez for $107 million

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On Tuesday Real Madrid officially announced the signing of Colombian superstar James Rodriguez.

James is now the fourth most expensive player in soccer history behind Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale (both Real Madrid) as the Spanish giants have finally got their man.

The 23-year-old has joined the reigning European Champions on a six-year deal for a fee of $107 million, after taking the World Cup by storm.

[RELATED: Where does fee rank all-time?]

[VIDEO: James scores wondergoal at WC]

Rodriguez scored six times in five World Cup matches this summer in Brazil to lift the Golden Boot, despite Colombia only reaching the quarterfinal stage, and has been linked with a switch from French side AS Monaco to Real ever since.

The talented attacker will now head to the U.S. to meet his new teammates on their preseason tour, as Madrid face Inter Milan, AS Roma and Manchester United. The club released the following statement on their website, as Rodriguez will be unveiled at the Santiago Bernabue on Tuesday evening.

Real Madrid C. F. have reached an agreement with AS Mónaco FC to buy James Rodríguez, who will join the club for the next six seasons.

The player will be presented today, Tuesday 22 July, at 20:00 CET, in the Santiago Bernabéu’s presidential box.

Following that, James Rodríguez will take his first steps on the Santiago Bernabéu’s pitch wearing the Real Madrid jersey and will then answer questions from the media outlets in attendance in the press room.

The big question now is, where will James slot in to the Real line up?

[RELATED: Real to unveil Rodriguez on Tuesday, join club for US tour]

With Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria currently occupying the four attacking spots, something has to give. Di Maria is the most likely to leave as Rodriguez’s ability to play centrally or on the wing mean he can slot in anywhere alongside Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema.

James’ ability to create goals should not be underestimated as he led the French top-flight in assists last season with 12 and bagged a slightly modest total of nine goals during his debut campaign in Ligue 1. Monaco have certainly made a tidy profit on the man they signed for just $60 million last summer from FC Porto.

After this monster signing, I think we can start referring to Real as Los Galacticos once again… if you ever stopped doing that.

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.