Thursday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Hulk to Chelsea and Tevez to Juventus

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Without question the biggest transfer rumor of the day comes out of West London where Jose Mourinho looks to clean up Chelsea’s mess of missing out on Radamel Falcao by signaling his intent to bring in Brazilian striker Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg.

The Blues are reportedly willing to pay the Russian outfit £35 million for his services, which would be a £15 million loss on what Zenit paid to obtain the 26 year old striker from Porto just one year ago.

If Hulk does come to Stamford Bridge expect Mourinho to part ways with either Fernando Torres or Demba Ba, who have each provided modest returns over the course of last year. Mourinho will also need to figure out what to do about Romelu Lukaku, who impressed on a loan stint last year with West Brom, scoring 17 goals in 35 appearances.

But why stop at just Hulk? Chelsea are reportedly within a whisker of signing Bayer Leverkusen’s attacking midfielder come forward, Andre Schurrle. If reports out of Cologne are to be believed, the 22 year old is set to be Mourinho’s his first signing since returning to the Bridge.

If Schurrle does come to Chelsea, there will be question marks. While he’s a flexible player who could be deployed up top he tends to drift to the left side during matches and is best suited as a winger. The Blues, of course, have no shortage of those and whether Schurrle has the talent to displace the likes of Eden Hazard, Victor Moses or Oscar, remains to be seen.

Over at the Lane, Leandro Damiao’s agent is failing to rule out a move that will make his client a Lillywhite. “Our idea is to always work with big clubs, all players dream of playing in the Champions League,” Vinicius Prates said. “But Tottenham are an important club in London, we can’t rule them out.”

In other words, Leandro wants A) Champions League football, or B) a ton of money.

To the Midlands we go where Aston Villa continue to feel the growing shadow of clubs looming above them wanting to poach striker Christian Benteke. Mere days after rumors surfaced claiming that Atletico Madrid, Spurs and Arsenal were poised to launch bids of £17.5 million for the Belgian, the Villains have gone ahead and slapped a £40 million price tag on his head.

Ah yes, the old tag slap, a move guaranteed to drive an in-demand player positively bananas. Although I feel bad for Villa this is fast looking like a walk-out situation on Benteke’s part. While £40 million feels a bit aggressive, Paul Lambert’s side should look hard at getting a deal done for £25-30 million before things turn ugly and that price bottoms out.

Up in Manchester, we might be in for some much needed Carlos Tevez drama. Juventus are apparently looking to swoop the Argentine striker if they fail to finagle Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic away from Arsenal and Chelsea. The Serie A champions are also open to scooping up the rest of City’s scraps, including Javi Garcia, Edin Dzeko and Joleon Lescott.

Tevez to Juve could be a real possibility, especially if City snap up Edinson Cavani. If the Citizens do make a move for the Uruguayan striker, expect Carlitos to be sent to Turin for money that could be surprisingly reasonable. Such are the brakes of investing in a new player before selling off an old one.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfield unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

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The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”