Everton FC

Why are Everton spending big, and early, this summer?

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Everton’s transfer business has taken the Premier League by storm this summer with Ronald Koeman splashing the cash faster than a Dutchman at a clog sale.

[ MORE: Everton sign Keane | Sandro ] 

Seriously though, what the Toffees have done thus far in the transfer window is incredibly impressive with owner Farhad Moshiri sticking to his promise of investing heavily in the playing squad as five new faces have arrived for a combined total of over $110 million, with Everton spending more money than any other PL club this summer.

But why are they in such a rush?

The main two reasons are the following: a) they have a Europa League qualifying campaign which begins in just over three weeks. b) to try and entice Romelu Lukaku to stay at Goodison Park.

Many have suggested the latter reason is a lost cause with Lukaku linked with a $127 million return to Chelsea, while Manchester United and others also remain interested. Yet what if Koeman has said to Lukaku, Everton’s leading goalscorer in each of the past four campaigns who scored 25 times in the PL last season, ‘if I get in more quality players around you, just give me one more year.’

Lukaku has a contract at Everton until July 2019 and although the Belgian striker has failed to commit to a new deal, this is not like an Alexis Sanchez situation where the Toffees have to cash in now or risk losing him for nothing next summer. They hold plenty of the power and the word out of Goodison is they don’t want to sell Lukaku right now.

Of course, Everton’s success is about more than one player and although Lukaku is the focal point of their attack they have now built a new core of the team since Koeman arrived last summer.

This is the potential starting lineup for the Toffees in the 2017-18 campaign as they aim to try and break into the top four.

—– Pickford —-

— Coleman — Williams — Keane — Baines —

— Davies — Schneiderlin — Gueye —

— Klaassen — Sandro

—– Lukaku —–

Of course, Coleman is out with a long-term injury so Mason Holgate will likely slot in at right back, but the rest of the team picks itself. With Jordan Pickford a huge upgrade on Maarten Steklenburg and Joel Robles in goal, Michael Keane a club-record buy to replace the ageing Phil Jagielka at center back, Davy Klaassen in for Ross Barkley in attacking midfield and Sandro Ramirez to support Lukaku in attack. Also, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman, stars of England’s U-20 World Cup success, will be pushing for a starting spot.

This is an extremely strong squad and more additions could arrive this summer for the Toffees with reports suggesting potential moves for Wayne Rooney and Olivier Giroud are not out of the question. How either player would get in this starting lineup, if Lukaku was to stay, is beyond me.

Everton have done the majority of their business early this summer with the Europa League qualifiers in mind, but also with a firm sense that Koeman can easily improve on their seventh-place finish in the PL last season with Director of Football Steve Walsh now in the job for a full year as he continues to make his stamp on the club after putting together a title-winning squad at Leicester City.

The Toffees faded badly in 2016-17 — picking up four points from their last five PL games — but with these additions they’ve already addressed their main needs and now balancing the dreaded Thursday-Sunday schedule remains the main obstacle for them to overcome if they qualify for the Europa League group stage.

Yes, they may have paid higher than expected for Pickford, Keane and Klaassen but that was a risk worth taking for getting players in early. Every other Premier League club and manager would love to have their squad almost settled like Koeman has by the time preseason arrives, but with certain players only allowed to leave once a replacement is found, the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are finding it tough to push moves through.

Everton aren’t just spending money for the sake of it. They’re addressing their needs diligently and are hoping that buying early will have the team settled by the time August 12 rolls around so they can take the next step in the 2017-18 PL campaign.

That’s the main reason Koeman has struck early, and often, in the transfer market. And the Toffees are now way ahead of their rivals as they aim to become a genuine top four contender.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.