Jose Mourinho confirms Chelsea’s top transfer target this summer

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Jose Mourinho is playing his cards close to his chest, but the Chelsea manager has confirmed his main aim this summer will be to add a new defender to his squad at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Van Gaal may add “surprise” striker ]

Mourinho, 52, is currently in Montreal as Chelsea continue their preseason preparations ahead of the 2015-16 campaign and the Portuguese boss believes the reigning Premier League champions are well balanced but need one more player in defense.

Reports say the Blues have had a $30 million bid for Everton’s central defender John Stones rejected, but it seems like Mourinho may go back in for the 21-year-old ball-playing center back as he informed the media on Sunday that he likes Stones and Chelsea have made a bid for the England international.

[ VIDEO: Blatter storms off stage, has money thrown at him ]

Speaking to Sky Sports from Quebec ahead of the start of their International Champions Cup games this week, Mourinho had the following to say about Chelsea’s squad.

“I am looking for a defender to finish this balance in our squad and after that we are ready to answer anything that can happen to our players,” Mourinho said. “If one of our players in a specific position wants to leave, we agree a deal for a player to leave and we have to answer immediately and bring in somebody else, because at the moment we have balance in the squad and we cannot lose that.”

So, who do the Blues currently have in a defense which conceded just 32 times in 38 PL games last season?

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A third of Chelsea’s mean defense during the 2014-15 season.

Captain John Terry played every single second of Chelsea’s title winning campaign last year and the 34-year-old formed a formidable partnership with Gary Cahill at the heart of the defense. Terry won’t go on forever thought and youngster Kurt Zouma impressed whenever he stepped in. Apart from those three players, Chelsea can only call on Branislav Ivanovic to slot in at center back from right back and they have Cesar Azpilicueta and Filipe Luis battling it out for the left back berth.

Youngsters Andreas Christensen and Tomas Kalas will spend next season out on loan and Nathan Ake is still a few years away from being a regular. Reinforcements are needed at the back.

One area Mourinho doesn’t need to strengthen is on the wing, as he confirmed that Egyptian winger Mohammed Salah can leave if a club matches his valuation with Chelsea currently possessing five wide players. Mourinho mentioned they may move to replace Salah if he leaves, but it is believed that Barcelona attacker Pedro is not on his radar.

For now the priority seems to be getting Stones from Everton, as Chelsea aim to improve the PL’s best defense from last season.

Rapids name Robin Fraser as head coach

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Rapids have named former Major League Soccer player and longtime assistant Robin Fraser as their head coach.

Fraser steps in for Conor Casey, who’s been the interim coach since the team fired Anthony Hudson in May. Colorado is 7-14-6 and at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Fraser’s first match in charge will be Saturday at the New York Red Bulls.

The 52-year-old Fraser has served as an assistant coach at Toronto FC since 2015.

Fraser was the fourth overall pick in the 1996 MLS player draft by the Los Angeles Galaxy. Over his career, Fraser suited up for the Galaxy, the Rapids and the Columbus Crew. He said in a statement Sunday he considers Colorado home because he’s so familiar with the soccer community.

Rapids general manager Padraig Smith said Fraser has a “deep knowledge of what it takes to be successful in MLS.”

Pochettino upset with attacking stars, speaks on Eriksen status

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Mauricio Pochettino might’ve understood Tottenham Hotspur dropping points last week at Man City, but he didn’t plan on not taking anything from Newcastle United on Sunday at home.

“You need the capacity to step up in this type of situation but we didn’t show that quality today,” Pochettino said. “When the ball arrives in the last third you need something from the talent and quality we have there and today we didn’t have that.”

[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle | Bruce reacts ]

So that’s pretty straight forward, but Pochettino was less happy to answer the question of why he didn’t start Christian Eriksen. Some (read: this writer) have questioned the philosophy of putting a man you may sell for $50 million on the bench. Either put him in the Starting XI and risk him, or leave him off the 18.

“When you lose, the players who don’t play are the best. With Christian we win and we lose a lot of games. I accept that situation is like this. If we won 3-0 today no one talks about different names.

“I cannot find excuses about the transfer window being open to justify that performance or the result. We cannot find the way to be solid and to have consistency for different reasons. I am going to be happy in 10 days after we play Arsenal when the transfer window closes in Europe and to have the player involved until the transfer window again in January.”

We’re not gonna read too much into it, but it does sound a bit like Pochettino is daring teams to bid for Eriksen. Would it make sense for him to hold onto Eriksen until January before cashing in?

Newcastle’s Bruce heard criticism, happy to beat Spurs

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Steve Bruce heard a lot of the criticism from fans upon his hiring at Newcastle United, and it rang out louder after the Magpies started 0-2 including a loss at newly-promoted Norwich City.

[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle ]

He may well hear plenty more down the road, but the childhood Newcastle supporter was feeling relieved and maybe redeemed after a fortunate and wonderful 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. From the BBC:

“We came to this fantastic stadium, this fantastic club and we performed. I mean, to say I ‘cannot even do a warm up’ is mad. I have managed 900-odd games and over the years you would think there would be some sort of respect but I go back to the fact that whoever took over from Rafa Benitez was going to get the abuse.”

Newcastle faces struggling Watford at St. James’ Park next week, and another result will ease a lot of nerves (though certainly not all of them.

Wolves snatch late point versus Burnley

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Raul Jimenez’s penalty seven minutes into stoppage time gave Wolves a point with a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Sunday at the Molineux Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Wolves now have three draws in three matches, while Burnley has four points.


Three things

  1. We’re paying rent in Ashley Barnes‘ world — Known most for his combustible, some-would-say dirty nature, the Burnley striker now has four goals this early season and more than one, including Sunday’s opener, have been bangers.
  2. Nuno’s men could use a break — Wolves fought well, but you can tell the Europa League schedule has heavily taxed their spirit. How tired are they? Here are the thoughts of an exhausted Raul Jimenez, and you can read the “Thank you, God” inside them –> “I think [the penalty] is the right decision. When I get in possession he tried to kick the ball, then he kicked me. It came at a good moment for us.”
  3. Don’t ever bet against Sean Dyche — We’ve written it 100 times. The big man can get a result from anywhere, at any time.

Burnley was easily the better unit over the first 45 minutes, and was rewarded with a goal even after VAR ruled one out.

Barnes chested a neatly-headed flick into shooting position and unleashed a missile that zipped past Rui Patricio for a 1-0 lead.

Both sides began the second half brightly, with Morgan Gibbs-White lashed a shot offf the outside of the netting and Barnes unable to get purchase on a ball over the top of the Wolves back line.

But Erik Pieters cut down Jimenez in the box late to set the Mexican international up for a win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]