Barcelona bid sure to set European keeper transfer fees all out of whack

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This morning a report in Italian paper Gazetta dello Sport has set the Spanish papers alight with news that Barcelona bid a ridiculous €23 million ($30.7 million) for Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

And it was turned down!!

Apparently Inter president Massimo Moratti said, “Handanovic to Barcelona? No, Handanovic remains with us.”  According to the report, Moratti is holding out for an even more staggering €30 million ($40 million).

The 28-year-old Slovenian kept just nine clean sheets in 35 Serie A matches, which was tied for 14th in the league, and he had 13 goose eggs in 54 over all competitions. His save percentage of 75.4% was 2nd in Serie A of all keepers with at least 10 games.  He gave up a goal every 59 minutes, 19th in Serie A of keepers with at least 10 games.  Those are good, not great, numbers.

It’s hard to get good statistics for goalkeepers, since the numbers often heavily depend on the team’s defense, and Inter’s was horrible this past year (they gave up the 2nd most goals in the entire league). However, it’s still hard to imagine the goalkeeper of a team that allowed that many goals is commanding this kind of bid.

So if that’s the price for Handanovic, then what is the correct market price for a player like Simon Mignolet or Wojciech Szczesny?

The BBC reported just today that Mignolet is set to sign for Liverpool for just £10 million ($15.7 million).  That’s half of the Barcelona bid for Handanovic that was turned down.  According to this article on an Arsenal blog which does a fabulous job of analyzing goalkeeper statistics, Mignolet was one of the best keepers in the Premier League last season on a horrible defensive squad, and probably was the sole reason they stayed up.

If you’re not someone who wants to dissect statistics and metrics, this list by Bloomberg Sports ranked the top 50 players in the world using a massive number of different data points, and Simon Mignolet was the highest ranked goalkeeper of two to make the list.

To compare, Dutch first-choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was just purchased by Fulham for £4.7 million ($7.4 million). Stekelenburg was dropped by his former club AS Roma to second-choice in the second half of last season, but many thought that was unfair, and he regained his spot when Roma made a managerial change down the stretch.

Either way you look at it, the bid by Barcelona and Inter’s evaluation of Handanovic is over the top, and the situation sure to set off a chain reaction and could have a major impact on other moves around Europe at the goalkeeper position.

USMNT back Lichaj finds new home in Championship

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Eric Lichaj is going to bring his Premier League promotion dreams to a new Championship club.

The 29-year-old USMNT fullback has been a key part of Nottingham Forest to the tune of 188 appearances since moving from Aston Villa in 2013.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

But he’s on the move, joining Nigel Adkins at Hull City on the heels of a three-goal season at Forest. He famously scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 FA Cup win over Arsenal, then naming his new dog Gunner.

“It’s a fresh start for me and I want to repay Hull City for the faith that they have shown in me by bringing me here. I’ll be working my hardest, as I always do, every day in training and on matchdays.”

The versatile American can play left or right back, and has pushed his way back into the national team picture. Lichaj has 15 caps with a goal for the USMNT.

Also, #AStarInStripes? We see you, Hull

Report: Minnesota United chasing Ecuadorian national teamer

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Minnesota United may be hoping another Ibarra can cure what ails its attack.

Romario Ibarra, 23, is on the Loons’ radar according to The Athletic‘s Kristian Dyer and Jeff Rueter, who say Minnesota would like to land the Ecuadorian when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Ibarra was limited to eight matches for Universidad Católica this season as he battled through a lingering metatarsal fracture. But he’s scored against Argentina and Chile in each of his appearances for the national team, both World Cup qualifiers.

From The Athletic:

Sources say that Ibarra’s contract is unlikely to make him a designated player, leaving Quintero as the club’s sole DP. (It could depend, in part, on the size of the transfer fee.) Based on league standards, his salary will likely be drawn from Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract seems likely.

Ibarra’s older brother Renato plays for Club America, and has 36 caps.

Minnesota is six points outside the West’s final playoff spot, and has scored just 17 goals in 14 matches.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal field set

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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to one non-MLS entrant after LAFC fought past Sacramento Republic’s dogged effort to make it two, twice equalizing en route to a 3-2 win.

[ MORE: TFC extends Bono ]

Louisville City won a battle of USL sides in Wednesday’s final day of fifth round action, knocking off Nashville SC by a 2-1 score.

Now attention turns to the quarterfinals, where USL champions Louisville City will face the Chicago Fire on July 18.

All four quarterfinals will be staged on that day, and the winner of Louisville-Chicago will face the winner of the duel between Philadelphia Union and Orlando City.

The other side of the bracket shows Houston Dynamo against Sporting KC, and LAFC against the Portland Timbers.

Chicago and KC have won the cup an MLS-best four times each, while Philadelphia has finished second twice.

The remaining quarterfinalists have not advanced to a USOC final.

Sprawling translated Emery interview talks PSG, Guardiola, more

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given a sprawling interview, translated by France Football News, in which he discusses his history and his philosophies.

The interview was conducted after Emery was dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain but before he was hired by the Gunners.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

It’s a fascinating read, with Emery going deep into his relationship with Neymar, the need for PSG to get an “A-ha” goal for its history books, and much, much more.

The interview is with Marti Perarnau, the author of “Pep Confidential,” and there are plenty of good nuggets regarding the Manchester City boss, as well as Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.

It’s fairly clear that Emery figured he’d be going to a new league, and he certainly seems like a guy fit for a project like succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. For one thing, he’s proud of his team’s style.

That’s something valued by the North London set, and Emery pointed out that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola at Man City had to fail before they succeeded.

Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.

My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.

And here’s just a quick nugget on the importance of playmaking, and how good players make a coach look better.

During his first match against Toulouse at the Parc des Princes, we get corner. Neymar takes it quickly and Kurzawa scores. We hadn’t worked that at all with him. Afterwards, I told Neymar, “My work is limited to your strokes of genius.”

Love it. Arsenal seems like it’s in good hands. Read the full interview here.