Southampton complete $20 million Shane Long signing

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Southampton have splashed the cash to sign Hull City striker Shane Long for $20 million as the Irish striker becomes Saints sixth new signing as the massive summer overhaul continues at St. Mary’s.

Long, 27, will join the South Coast club on a four-year deal after the Republic of Ireland international spent just half a season with Hull.

[RELATED: Why the exodus at Saints?

In January the pacey frontman left West Bromwich Albion for the Tigers in a $10 million deal and just 15 PL games and four goals later, Steve Bruce’s men have doubled their money for the forward.

Saints needed a new striker. They offered Hull an extremely large sum of money. Everybody is happy.

On the face of things it does seem like a rather large transfer fee for a player who has now played in the Premier League for six seasons and is yet to break into double figures. Long has scored 23 PL goals in 96 games over the past four seasons with Hull and West Brom.

Speaking to the club website Saints manager Ronald Koeman stated that he hopes Long’s arrival will create a strong partnership with 6 foot 4 striker Graziano Pelle during the new season and beyond.

“Shane is a very good player. As a striker, he’s different to Pelle, which is something we needed,” Koeman said. “He brings ambition and a great mentality – he’s always running and always working, and he’s very down-to-earth. He’s a great person, and we need that type of player. He brings a lot of experience to our squad because he’s already played at Premier League level for a few years. He knows what we need at this level, and he can show that to our younger players as well.”

Long’s partnership with Pelle will be key in a new look Southampton side. After losing Rickie Lambert this summer and Jay Rodriguez still out with his ACL injury, Southampton were looking incredibly light up front and have moved to address that. Long is “delighted” with the moves and hopes to be integral to Saints’ future plans.

“You look at how well they did last season and they are developing a new squad for this year to try and achieve those accomplishments again,” Long said. “Hopefully I can be a big part of that.”

With the club raising up to $175 million in transfer fees over the summer by selling Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren, you get the feeling other clubs are holding out for more cash when it comes to selling players to Saints.

This deal for Long proves that but if the Irish international links up with Pelle and hits form, it could be a shrewd buy as ‘Ronald’s Revolution’ continues at Southampton. Romanian defender Florin Gardos also arrived on Thursday from Steaua Bucharest for a fee thought to be around $10 million.

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

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Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.