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.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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