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Better Deal: Sigurdsson and cash or Vorm and Davies?

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Earlier today Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City confirmed a deal that saw Gylfi Sigurdsson and an undisclosed fee head to the Liberty Stadium in exchange for Michel Vorm and Ben Davies.

The swap is a rare and interesting play that’s seldom seen in the world of soccer because it’s so difficult to measure the impact and value of one player with that of another. The number of factors that enter into the formula for a player’s value is infinite and when trying to do that for three players seems like an exercise of impossibility.

And yet somehow, Tottenham and Swansea have seemingly carved out a mutually beneficial deal.

But how so? Surely one of these clubs enjoyed the sweeter side of this deal and here we set out to see who it was.

Spurs addressed two major needs with the move — finding a sure-fire starter at left-back and a backup goalkeeper who will push Hugo Lloris. Ask a Tottenham fan what went wrong last year and he’ll politely hand you a novel of quips with chapter one reading: Our need for a top left-back.

Jan Vertonghen, a better center-back than left-back, made himself dangerous in that position early last season before a midseason injury derailed that option. With Danny Rose in the Belgian’s place things were decent but hardly on lock-down status as Rose struggled with inconsistency and fitness issues, which then left Spurs with Kyle Naughton as the most viable option. Not good predicament to be in.

The 25-year-old Naughton, who can play either left or right back, struggled to fit in and became a target for opposing team’s to attack. Things grew so dire, in fact, that 21-year-old Ezequiel Fryers was given a go before he, too, imploded. That, in turn, led to rampant and unbridled exposure on the left side of the pitch, much to the delight of opposing clubs.

Now, with the highly-sought-after Davies in place, Spurs believe they’ve found their cure. Inserted into Swansea’s side two years ago at the tender age of 19, the skillful and aware Welshman performed brilliantly, locking down the left-side while proving himself dangerous on the counter. He’s one of the many great Welsh talents on the rise and now, under new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, many feel the sky is the limit. Time will only tell but Spurs were in desperate need of a left-back and have fought off the likes of Liverpool to address the issue. A fantastic pull.

Vorm’s decision to move to North London is an interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least because it means that American Brad Friedel will now become the third-choice goalkeeper. Friedel was brilliant in the back-up roll last season, giving Lloris a rest during matches outside the Premier League but never really threatening to take the Frenchman’s spot. In Vorm, Spurs have found a goalkeeper who will not only fill in during Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup matches when needed but could foreseeably challenge Lloris for the starting role in league matches. Which is exactly what manager Mauricio Pochettino wanted in a backup. And what Vorm lacks in size he makes up for in superlative cat-like reflexes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better starter/backup goalkeeper duo in the Premier League.

Pochettino won’t love that he had to deal Sigurdsson but giving up a substitute for a starting left-back and a stellar back-up goalkeeper was worth it. In two seasons with Spurs, Sigurdsson scored eight goals in 58 top-flight appearances, many of which proved to be match-winners off the bench. But a plethora of midfielders meant that Sigurdsson’s main role at Spurs was as a super-sub, one that some people will feel he deserved better than.

At Swansea, he’ll have the chance of becoming an everyday starter. Capable of playing anywhere across the attacking three, Sigurdsson will need to prove himself if he’s to get the starting nod amidst the likes of Nathan Dyer, Ki Sung-Yeung, Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo and Wayne Routledge. Of course, it was only three years ago when Sigurdsson enjoyed his breakout in the Premier League, scoring seven goals in 18 matches while on loan with the Swans so finding top form shouldn’t take long.

But was Swansea in desperate need of another attacking midfielder?

Not really. More pressing was the call for a striker when either Wilfried Bony or Michu (or both) end up leaving this summer for greener pastures. Bold move for manager Garry Monk.

And what about that fee? Most sources are labeling it “undisclosed” but the Daily Mail claim Swansea pocketed $6 million in addition to the swap. Not a bad bit of business for the Swans but does that extra cash make up for the fact that they parted with two key players to obtain an attacking midfielder who wasn’t really needed?

Hard to say Spurs didn’t come out on top in this deal.

Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel signs with former club Vitesse Arnham

NORWICH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:Ricky van Wolfswinkel of Norwich City celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Everton at Carrow Road on August 17, 2013 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City’s record transfer at the time of his purchase from Sporting CP in 2013, is moving on after a largely unsuccessful four-year stint with the Canaries.

The 27-year-old has returned to his home country, moving to Vitesse Arnham – the club he went professional with as a 19-year-old. Van Wolfswinkel made his professional debut in April of 2008 with Vitesse, and now returns for an undisclosed fee.

Van Wolfswinkel came to Norwich in 2013 with much fanfare, signing for a reported fee of $11 million – a club record signing at the time.

He proceeded to score just a single goal in 25 appearances during his first season in the Premier League, with Norwich finding itself relegated. He moved to Ligue 1 on loan with Norwich in the Championship, but still managed just five goals in 28 league appearances with St. Etienne. He never made another appearance for the Canaries, instead moving on loan again Real Betis last season, but flopped there too, scoring just once in 16 league appearances.

“I debuted in professional football on behalf of Vitesse and that is something you never forget,” van Wolfswinkel said upon signing. “After several foreign adventures I look forward to returning to the Dutch fields. I hope to find my niche and want to play well and add many goals and assists for Vitesse.”

Report: Arsenal continues to push for Lacazette transfer, readies another bid

LISBON, PORTUGAL - JULY 23:  Lyon's forward Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring Lyon«s goal during the Friendly match between Sporting CP and Lyon at Estadio Jose Alvalade on July 23, 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
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According to Friday’s edition of French publication L’Equipe, Arsenal is set to table yet another improved bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette should the current one of $44 million be rejected.

The Gunners have spent little this transfer window, with the capture of Granit Xhaka their only incoming purchase thus far, and it has unsettled many supporters. The club has looked to calm those fears, going so far as to claim they are unable to spend big like many others across England, but on the inside they appear ready to spend for the French frontman.

Should Arsenal submit yet another bid for Lacazette, it would be their third. An initial bid for $39 million was rejected earlier this week, the Ligue 1 side announced on Wednesday.

“The reality is that the Arsenal made an offer of £30m,” the club confirmed in a statement, “which Olympique Lyonnais did not respond to for one reason only: OL wishes to keep Alexandre Lacazette because he is irreplaceable and one of the major leaders of Bruno Genesio’s group.”

The Frenchman scored 21 goals last season in Ligue 1 play, including 11 goals in the season’s final 10 games. His total haul was second in the league behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s whopping 38.

It seems that, with this report out in public, Lyon would be silly to accept the new bid, given that Arsenal is likely to have another improved one soon to follow.

Europa League qualifying roundup: West Ham falls in Slovenia

NYON, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 08:  The UEFA Europa League trophy is displayed during the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League Play-off round draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football on August 8, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In what is often described as more of a distraction than anything for English teams, the Europa League third qualification round is under way, and a Premier League club is in danger of crashing out of the competition prior to the group stage for the third straight season.

West Ham fell 2-1 at NK Domzale, the third-placed finishers in the Slovenian league last season. Mark Noble grabbed an 18th-minute penalty, the only takeaway from an otherwise depressing road result. On the other side, 24-year-old Matic Crnic scored twice to put Domzale through.

Last season, the Hammers also dropped out of the competition in the third qualification round, to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, although they had wins in the first and second rounds after entering the competition via fair play. In addition, Southampton also crashed out of last year’s Europa League in the playoff round to Danish side FC Mitdjylland. Hull City dropped out of the tournament two seasons ago in the playoff round.

West Ham has the opportunity to turn things around at home in a week as they host Domzale at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 4 in what will be West Ham’s first competitive game in their new home.

Other notable scores from Europa League qualification include:

  • Lille 1-1 Gabala FC
  • Panathinaikos 1-0 AIK
  • Genk 1-0 Cork
  • Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
  • Videoton 0-1 Midtjylland
  • Hertha BSC 1-0 Bronby
  • AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Giannina

Napoli chief calls Gonzalo Higuain a “traitor,” striker hits back

Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain shows the Juventus' jersey as he arrives in the team headquarters in Turin, Italy, Wednesday July 27, 2016. Italian champion Juventus said Tuesday it has signed  Higuain from Serie A rival Napoli for 90 million euros ($99 million). (Alessandro Di Marco/Ansa via Ap)
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Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.

When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”

“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”

That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.

“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”

Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”

Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.