Arsenal make $44.7M offer for Luis Suarez, Liverpool immediately reject

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The Guardian is reporting that Arsenal have had a £30 million ($44.7m) bid for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez turned down by Liverpool.

The offer is believed to have been made sometime towards the end of last week, with Liverpool immediately rejecting.

For the Reds, the turn-down emphasizes their desire to hold on to the controversial Uruguayan despite his comments about wanting to leave the club because the media in England does not treat him well.

In response, Liverpool explained that Suarez was not for sale and they expect him to honor his contract.

Arsenal’s interest in Suarez emerged last week when British bookmakers reported heavy action on the player’s transfer to the Emirates. One major bookie went so far as to stop taking bets on the move while most sites had a Suarez-to-Arsenal deal pegged at 2-1.

More: Luis Suarez to Arsenal? Bet on it.

The Guardian believes that Arsenal’s bid for Suarez could merely be a ploy to pressure Real Madrid into finalizing the Gunners’ deal to sign Gonzalo Higuain. That deal, which has been in negotiations for over three weeks now, is expected to see the Argentine head to North London on a £23 million ($34.3m) transfer fee with wages in the range of £100,000-£120,000 ($149k-$197k).

More: Arsenal deal for Gonzalo Higuain looks imminent

If The Guardian’s position is to be believed, it would suggest that the Gunners are not looking to purchase both Higuain and Suarez. That would be the kind of double coup Goonahs could only dream about, regardless of whether or not the two South Americans could operate on the pitch at the same time.

Buying both Higuain and Suarez becomes even more unlikely when Arsenal’s most pressing needs are considered. While the club would be well served by bringing in a world-class striker (apologies, Olivier Giroud), buying two would be wasteful. Instead, the Gunners would do well to focus on their most pressing need, bringing in Patrick Vieira 2.0 – a holding midfielder who can handle the ball while dishing out defensive bite.

Everton’s Marouane Fellaini would seem to be the best fit for the holding midfielder role although the club also has expressed interest in Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter, Manchester City’s Gareth Barry, Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons and Anzhi Makhachkala’s Odil Ahmedov.

Once a holding midfielder and striker have been signed, Arsenal will consider finding a replacement for Bacary Sagna at right-back and possibly bringing in another winger.

But for now, all eyes are on the Suarez situation.

And while the Uruguayan is unlikely to end up at the Emirates, Arsenal’s willingness to make the £30 million offer should be uplifting to their supporters. Going into the summer transfer window many worried that, despite being handed a £70 million ($104m) kitty, Arsene Wenger would not shoot for the stars.

Might the old dog be learning new tricks?

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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Long-term absentee Santi Cazorla will leave Arsenal

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Santi Cazorla hasn’t played a match for the Gunners since suffering a gruesome Achilles injury back in October 2016.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Spanish Chelsea trio ]

And unfortunately for the Spaniard, Cazorla won’t feature for Arsenal again after six years at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal released a statement on Monday revealing the veteran midfielder won’t return to the club in 2018/19, which isn’t unexpected given the extent of his injury.

In his time with the Gunners, Cazorla made 180 appearances in all competitions for the club, and helped Arsenal win two FA Cups.

Cazorla was also a member of the Spanish national team squads that won back-to-back UEFA EURO competitions in 2008 and 2012.