Rickie Lambert says Southampton firesale forced players away (VIDEO)

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Now that Rickie Lambert has successfully rejoined his boyhood club, he’s taken a sort of passive approach towards the team he spent five years with and helped promote to the top flight.

However, after Liverpool’s season-opening win Sunday, he gave us a bit of a look into the inside of Southampton’s firesale.

After making his official Liverpool debut, reporters asked Lambert to contrast his reception from Southampton fans, which was mostly warm, to that of Dejan Lovren, which was quite hostile.

“Obviously, a few of the players have took a bit of stick,” Lambert said. “They’ll take the stick, that’s football. It’s been surprising that it’s all been the players and none on the owners, which I have found a bit surprising.”

Then, he threw in this nugget as well.

“There’s obviously a reason why the gaffer [Former Southampton and current Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino] went and I think that was the moment that it became clear to the players what the ambition of the club was going to be.”

It’s pretty obvious that Lambert had a good relationship with the manager, and when the club didn’t make a competitive attempt to keep Pochettino, the players knew it was a sign of things to come.

It’s no surprise Southampton did what they did, as many smaller clubs have player resale high on their priority list when doing business.  However, it certainly is a disappointment to the fans and players that it all had to come at one time.

In fact, it’s even more surprising that the club finally drew a line in the sand and stopped Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez from leaving, something that left the former angered.  However, Schneiderlin played very well in the season opener and that can let fans rest easy that they can probably get another quality season out of the Frenchman and still have the opportunity to sell high.

Lambert also said that while their focus on the blame may be misguided, he still loves the supporters.

“I love Southampton fans,” Lambert insisted. “I’ve got a good relationship with them, so it was nice that they acknowledged me in the way they did. I tried to acknowledge them back in the same manner, the same kind of respect. I’ve got nothing but respect for Southampton, the players and the fans.”

Report: New Arsenal manager will have small budget to re-shape squad

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Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.

[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]

That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.

For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.

Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.

A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.

Tunisian player who collapsed in Spain regains consciousness

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MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.

The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.

Nouioui collapsed on April 14.

The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

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On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”