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Can Man United, Man City really buy Rose, Walker for $73 million?

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Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have undoubtedly become two of the best full backs in the Premier League.

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The Tottenham Hotspur and England duo have now been linked with a move to both Manchester United and Manchester City as it is claimed Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola want to overhaul their options at right back and left back.

A report from the Sun claims United have the two 26-year-old full backs at the top of their wish-list and are willing to pay $73 million for the pair.

With right back Walker and left back Rose signing new contracts at Spurs last summer, Mauricio Pochetino is counting on them to be an integral part of Spurs for the foreseeable future but with the kind of money being paid to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others in Manchester, perhaps Walker and Rose will both have their heads turned.

But would Spurs really allow two of their most important players to join a direct rival for the PL title and top four?

This season the duo have been sublime as their pacey forward runs always add an extra dimension in attack and Pochettino has been able to implement both a more solid 4-2-3-1 and a more attacking 3-4-3 when they’re in the team as both Walker and Rose slotting in as exemplary wing backs.

Rose was named as the best left back in the Premier League in the PFA Team of the Year last season, while Walker was the named as the best right back in the 2011-12 campaign and both have become regular starters for England along with Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Dele Alli as Spurs’ young English core have all signed long-term contracts to continue the exciting project under Pochettino. With the new White Hart Lane stadium due to be finished in 2018, Spurs are heading into a brave new world and have worked hard to lock down their current players with transfer fees rising all the time.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18:  Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring their second goal with Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley at White Hart Lane on December 18, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Now, factor into all of this that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has a reputation as one of the most ruthless businessmen in the sport and both United and City will have to work extremely hard to pay anywhere near the market value for Walker and Rose.

It is very tough to see Levy letting these two leave Spurs without a struggle.

Reluctantly he let Gareth Bale leave for Real Madrid for a world-record fee in the summer of 2013 and even then Levy was against him leaving for a direct rival in Manchester United. We know Levy drives a hard bargain.

We also know that Guardiola is far from happy with his current options at full back and his defense in general. With the ageing quartet of Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta his best choices, Guardiola knows it is the one area of his team he must improve if his project at City can flourish over the next few seasons. City’s defense has been easily their weakest link since the Spanish coach took over with John Stones stumbling, Vincent Kompany struggling with injury and the likes of Kolarov forced to play in central defense at times.

For United, they’ve improved defensively under Mourinho and have ample options in central defense with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, but at full back they appear a little short as converted winger Antonio Valencia continues at right back, plus Luke Shaw‘s injury issues continue to hamper his progress at left back with Blind, Rojo and even Matteo Darmian shifted out to the left.

Yes, it’s true that both Manchester clubs could do with upgrades at full back but trying to buy Walker and Rose from Spurs will likely prove incredibly expensive, even for them, and very tricky.

Are they worth it? Yes. Will it happen? I highly doubt it.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.