Transfer market

Wolfsburg leapfrogs ‘Gladbach with win, signs its star forward to 4-year deal

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Barring a horrific collapse from Borussia Monchengladbach, we know the three Bundesliga clubs that will move directly to the group stage of next season’s UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and ‘Gladbach.

And one of the Top Three is swiping another’s joint-leading scorer, as Wolfsburg has agreed to terms on a four-year deal with ‘Gladbach striker Max Kruse. The 27-year-old German forward has 11 goals this season, tied for the club lead with Patrick Herrmann, and will join Wolfsburg in the summer.

[ MORE: Three things from Chelsea/Liverpool ]

The news comes on the same day that Wolfsburg clinched a UCL group stage berth with a 3-1 win at Paderborn, moving back ahead of ‘Gladbach on the table.

From the Associated Press:

Both clubs agreed not to disclose the transfer fee, though German media reported that Kruse had a release clause of 12 million euros ($13.5 million).

Wolfsburg director Klaus Allofs says “we’re very happy that Max Kruse decided on a switch to Wolfsburg. He is the type of forward that was missing from our squad and he increases the quality and variety of our attack.”

With just a point separating the clubs in the table, this is one of those times the “pre-signing” doesn’t mesh well with traditional ideas of competition. Wolfsburg finishes with a pair on the road — at Borussia Dortmund and Koln — while ‘Gladbach heads to Werder Bremen before a home finale against Augsburg.

Spurs chairman: “No major upheaval” this summer

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Pressure continues to rise at White Hart Lane after another big loss to a Top-Four rival, as Spurs continue their failure to live up to expectations.

And while multiple managers have failed to make much difference with a roster teeming with high-priced summer transfer acquisitions, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said manager Tim Sherwood should not expect his desired load of new players through the door this summer.

Spurs spent approximately $167 million on new players after selling Gareth Bale in the Summer of 2013, bringing in big names like Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela. Still, they sit sixth in the table. It’s a familiar position of disappointment, but won’t bring big changes.

From SkySports:

“This season we have had to make significant changes, both in respect of coaching and playing staff. Whilst this season’s performances and results have not lived up to expectation, we believe our squad has potential and it is important that we all now show commitment and teamwork to get the best possible finish to the season,” the Spurs chairman said.

“Our focus therefore is to continue to invest in and develop the squad [but] we shall not look to a summer of major upheaval, rather to strengthen in key positions – to play the style of football for which we are famous.”

It’s difficult to imagine some upheaval at the club, perhaps in the form of a coaching move with Louis van Gaal amongst job suitors. It’s even harder to envision the new boss won’t want to see significant chances to a roster that has been maddening in its inconsistency. Lots can change in five months, so check back in early September to see if Levy was blowing smoke.

Goal-starved New England looking to add offense on “international scouting trip”

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With one point through three matches and exactly zero goals on the season, the New England Revolution continue to search for offensive production.

We’re not just talking about on-field scoring from new blood like Teal Bunbury and Daigo Kobayashi, rather using New England’s two available roster sports on starters… even stars.

Revs general manager Michael Burns:

“We still have two roster spots to go and that’s without making any other additional moves. So we’re still looking for another midfielder and we’re still looking for another forward.”

“We’re not just looking for guys that we think are going to be role guys. We’re trying to find another player or two that we think can come in and be a starter.”

Burns, the 75-times capped USMNT defender, told the Revs site that his staff is out on an “international scouting trip” this week, but declined to give specifics on the regions or players being scoured for talent.

The Revs only Designated Player is Honduras’ Jerry Bengtson, so it’s not ridiculous for Revs fans to dream big (though obviously there are limitations given the March date).

I was there: Crystal Palace’s first win of the season (VIDEO)

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Crystal Palace’s return to the Premier League had been defined by on-field disappointment and transfer market frustration since the season started three weeks ago. But the precarious life of promoted teams means, if you mix in one good week for every three, you just might stay up.

Palace just had their good week, with the Eagles recording their first Premier League win since 2005. Their victim was Sunderland, who remained winless in three after their 3-1 loss at Selhurst Park.

Here’s what it was like from the stands in South London.

Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines show their value to Everton in season opener

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If Everton fans needed any reminder why manager Roberto Martínez is unwilling to sell Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines to Manchester United, they received it in Saturday’s 2-2 tie at Norwich City.

Fellaini ran up and down the field all game long, initiating attacks and supporting the center backs as a holding midfielder, while Baines was one of the Toffees’ most dangerous attacking players from an advanced left back position.

In fact, Baines and Fellaini showed that they are key parts of Martínez’s tactical system, which calls for attack-minded outside backs and central players who can work on both ends of the field.

Baines’ main job is to create two-on-one isolations with left-sided midfielder Steven Pienaar, while Fellaini initiates attacks with his distribution and remains available to drop between the center backs as the outside backs overlap on both sides.

The OPTA stats pegged Baines’ passing at 86 percent efficiency, as he completed 51 of his 59 attempts, including 22 of 27 in the attacking third of the field. That far outweighed his contribution in the back third, where he completed all of his six attempts. He also created five chances to score with passes that led directly to a shot, leading the team in that category.

Meanwhile, Fellaini’s passing was even more efficient, at 91 percent completion, mostly in the middle third of the field. Greater than his numerical contributions, though, was his intangible quality of work rate. He covered ground all over the field, making runs up the middle to join attacks before retreating quickly when Everton lost possession.

(MORE: Everton reject $42 million Manchester Utd bid for Baines and Fellaini)

“They are two great assets of the football club. I think they realise what they have done in the past, and they are very respectful towards that,” Martínez said of his stalwarts. “Football is a team sport, and the behavior of every player really matters. They have been a real example towards that.”

Further, the manager said he is not tempted at all to sell either player:

There is no temptation. In football, you want to keep your best performers, and that is where we are. You always get into a debate when there is a club that matches the valuation of a player. Then you need to make a decision. That has never been the case, and where we are is we want to keep our most influential players and build from that. It has been well reported what the approach has been. We take it as a football compliment and move on. Now, the focus has to be the games.