Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert on Sanchez: ‘He does the simple things really well’

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Carlos Sanchez, one of Columbia’s featured players in the 2014 World Cup, has signed a four-year deal with Aston Villa after the English club agreed on a £4 million transfer with the player’s former team, Elche CF.

Lions boss Paul Lambert has aimed to bolster his midfield this offseason, and when the Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City didn’t end up moving to Villa Park, the 45-year-old looked elsewhere, Sanchez being their primary target.

Lambert believes that the defensive midfielder will bring physicality and a straightforward, effective approach to his squad’s play.

“He does the simple things really well and he’s excellent at spotting the danger, dealing with it and keeping it simple. His physical strength, too, is something we will benefit from in the middle of the pitch and his role will be a really important one for the team,” he said. “We’ve beaten other teams to bring him here to Villa and I’m delighted as we needed someone of his ilk to come in. He’ll be an excellent player for the club.”

Sanchez made 30 appearances for Elche in 2013-14, tallying zero goals, and his six-year stint with French side Valenciennes, where he scored ten goals in 178 appearances, highlighted his longest tenure at a specific team.

“I’m delighted to be here, it’s something I have always dreamed of and it is very important for me to be here at Aston Villa, not only for me but for my family as well,” he said to the club’s official website. “It was always my aim to play in this country and in this league and I know Villa well as Juan Pablo also played here. I began to watch Villa games when he came in 2001. He was a goal scorer who was very important to this club and I followed his time here because he was always scoring goals.”

The Columbian’s presence does, in fact, help Aston Villa control the pace of play. With striker Christian Benteke out of matches only until September, it makes sense that Villa would look to find a defensive-minded man: one who’s capable of slowing down advances, recognizing and closing openings during the opposing team’s attack. His skill set should allow for a fairly smooth transition to the Premier League, and he can certainly carry the Lions to a higher level.

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

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Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

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Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.