Southampton insist Rodriguez, Schneiderlin are not for sale

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Finally some good news for Southampton fans. Well, sort of.

As the mass exodus from St. Mary’s had some people speculating about whether or not Liverpool or Arsenal could afford Saints’ tea lady (decent banter, but it happened) a couple of players seem to be sticking around on the South Coast.

[RELATED: Dissecting Saints’ exodus]

This week both Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) and Calum Chambers (Arsenal) left Southampton, as the club has now raked in over $175 million by selling players over the summer. In total 10 players have left Saints his summer, as the likes of Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana have all been sold.

New Saints manager Ronald Koeman has only bought in two players, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle, but according to Saints’ Canadian chairman Ralph Krueger you can count on Tottenham targets Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin to be around this season.

“Jay Rodriguez and and Morgan Schneiderlin are not for sale, and they will be a part of our club as we enter the new season,” Krueger said. “They are part of the core that we have decided to keep at Southampton. In and around Jay, Morgan and the rest of our core players, we’re excited to continue to build forward.”

[RELATED: Rodriguez, Schneiderlin heading to Spurs]

Speaking to Sky Sports in the UK, Krueger also confirmed that Saints had a clear plan when entering the transfer window and will be signing plenty of players in the coming days to replace those who were sold.

“Quite clearly, we entered the transfer window with a plan,” Krueger said. “We have a clear strategic approach to this summer, and we did not put any players for sale. What we did say was that we would watch the process, we would listen and we would look for how the team would evolve out of our rebuild.”

Krueger also went on to state that the players who left wanted to take a “shortcut” to play in the UEFA Champions League but that Saints are still aiming to play in Europe. You also can’t argue with his comments that every player was sold for close to or over their maximum value.

“We set premiums on the players, and we’ve reached those premiums,” Krueger said. “Our executive level has been working outstanding hours and has put good deals together that give us a strong position to reinvest and a strong position to rebuild. It was in the best interests of the club and the best interests of our rebuild to make these deals and to continue to build forward with players and a team that wants to go the hard way into Europe.”

If you believe Krueger, then Saints had planned to sell these players all along. If so, they are playing a dangerous game in gambling on incoming players to step right in and perform as a unit just a few weeks before the season begins. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be difficult? Yes.

It’s time for new boss Koeman and his backroom staff to get busy, bring the players in and gel them together to try and salvage Saints’ season before it has even begun.

Spartak and Zenit fined in latest Russia fan racism cases

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MOSCOW (AP) Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg have both been fined for racist chants by their fans, the latest such incident in World Cup host nation Russia.

Spartak’s fans were accused of aiming monkey chants at FC Tosno player Nuno Rocha, who is black, while some Zenit supporters allegedly chanted a Nazi slogan during a league game.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

The clubs must each pay a 100,000-ruble ($1,600) fine, and Spartak has been hit with a partial stadium closure for its next cup game, state news agency RIA Novosti quotes Russian Football Union disciplinary committee head Artur Grigoryants as saying.

The verdict comes after FIFA charged Russia with racist abuse of France players during last month’s friendly.

Zenit has also faced two racism charges from UEFA this season.

Europa League: Arsenal, Marseille host semifinal 1st legs

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Arsenal’s Champions League dreams could be in for a rude awakening against tournament-tested Atletico Madrid.

The Premier League vs. La Liga match-up is one of two Europa League semifinal first legs set to be served up Sunday, with Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg meeting in the other.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

There’s something romantic about Arsene Wenger closing out his time at Arsenal against French opposition in Lyon, but Atleti and Salzburg won’t step aside for poetics.

Both matches kickoff ay 3:05 p.m. ET

Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

It’s a bit stunning that this tie has no history considering both club’s statures in their leagues and Europe, but that’s what we’ll se when Arsenal welcomes Atleti for the first leg.

Arsenal boasts two of the top 10 performers in the UEL this season — it would be three had the Gunners not sold Theo Walcott — and are paced by Aaron Ramsey, who has four goals and an assist. Mesut Ozil, who’s ready to return to the pitch, has the reverse with a goal and four helpers.

The Gunners have outscored UEL opposition 29-10 this season.

It’s no surprise that Antoine Griezmann has been Atleti’s best attacker since the Madrid side dropped out of the UCL to run rampant through the UEL knockout rounds. Atleti beat Copenhagen 5-1, Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1, and Sporting Lisbon 2-1 for an aggregate score line of 15-3.

Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg

Don’t expect this to be a simple case of Ligue 1 bossing inferior opposition: This pair met in the group stage, with the Austrian side winning at home and drawing 0-0 in France.

Salzburg has shown its mettle in various ways during the UEL. After allowing just one goal in an unbeaten group stage, they’ve won 4-3 over Real Sociedad, 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund, and 6-5 versus Lazio. That’s no easy road, and Marseille represents another big challenge.

Marseille is bidding to make its first European final since 2004, and has been led by Dimitri Payet‘s three goals and four assists, and Lucas Ocampos’ four goals and one assist. Marseille has knocked off RB Leipzig, Athletic Bilbao, and Braga after the group stage.

Names you’ll need to know from Salzburg: defenders Stefan Lainer and Paulo Miranda have been spectacular, and Munas Dabbur and Valon Berisha have each scored five times in the tournament.

Mourinho on longtime nemesis Wenger: ‘We can be friends in future’

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Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have had a poor relationship, but the former thinks he’s soon to get along with the latter.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Manchester United boss Mourinho, 55, heaped praise on the departing Arsenal manager ahead of the two sides’ Sunday meeting at Old Trafford (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), saying the Frenchman has earned much respect.

Branding Wenger “iconic,” Mourinho says his fiery rivalry with Wenger stemmed from Arsenal’s stature in the Premier League when the Portuguese took over Chelsea.

“If he respects me even 50 percent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future,” Mourinho told Sky Sports News. “I have lots of respect for him. But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football.”

Mourinho said he’s tried to show his respect for Wenger, 68, over the past few seasons. It may become a passable relationship, but we find it hard to believe the pair will be dining together on a regular basis as the sun sets on their managerial careers (Mou has a while to go, we think).

Real’s Modric on Bayern feeling unlucky: “That’s their problem”

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Bayern Munich produced far more chances than visiting Real Madrid in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg in Germany, but lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Franck Ribery butchered an open shot at goal, Robert Lewandowski beat Keylor Navas but didn’t score late, and Thomas Mueller missed getting contact on a shot inside the six.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

It was that kind of day, and Mueller is baffled that his team did not finish more than Joshua Kimmich’s opener.

“Everybody is wondering why this game is 1-2 for Madrid,” Mueller reportedly said. “We still cannot believe it.”

The quote comes from BeIN Sport’s Tancredi Palmeri, who has a stinging rebuke from Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric.

Real wasn’t great on Wednesday, but also limited their big mistakes to one: Marcelo’s lapse of judgment which helped Kimmich to open the scoring for Bayern Munich.

The hosts had a huge giveaway from Rafinha on the match-winner, and backup backstop Sven Ulreich didn’t have a phenomenal day on either goal. Throw in Arjen Robben’s injury requiring an 8th minute substitution, and Bayern did not have much good fortune on the day.

This one, though, doesn’t seem over, even with the tie moving to the Bernabeu.