Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Swansea City

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The only Welsh side in the Barclays Premier League, Swansea City is a team on the rise.

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After a season in which Swansea had it’s best finish and set a record points tally, the Swans have made some key summer signings that should help Garry Monk’s men continue their upward trend. Monk is one of the brightest young managers in the Premier League and had Swans playing some beautiful football last season, which saw him rewarded with a contract extension keeping him at the Liberty Stadium until 2018.

With wins last season over Manchester United, Arsenal, and Southampton, Swansea City is a team to watch out for.

Best possible XI:

— Fabianski —

— Naughton — Fernandez — Williams — Tabanou —

— Cork — Ki. S.Y. —

— Dyer — Sigurdsson — Ayew —

— Gomis —

Transfers in: Andre Ayew (Free, Marseille), Eder ($8 million, Braga), Franck Tabanou ($5.5 million, Saint-Etienne), Kristoffer Nordfeldt ($1 million, SC Heerenveen)

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club ]

Transfers out: Jazz Richards ($775,000, Fulham), Nelson Oliveira (End of loan, Benfica)

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Gylfi Sigurdsson is one of the best free-kick takers in the PL.

Last season: Eighth in the Premier League — Swansea started last season with a win away at Manchester United, and they never looked back. The Swans had their best season in the Premier League, finishing in their highest position (8th) and with a record points total (56). The Welsh side pulled off the double over both Manchester United and Arsenal, and if it wasn’t for two losses in the final two matches of the season, the Swans would be playing in Europe this season.

Star player: Gylfi Sigurdsson — The Icelandic midfielder had a brilliant campaign for the Swans last season, finishing the year with seven goals and ten assists. The only two players to have more helpers were Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla, so Sigurdsson is in quite good company. The midfielder established himself as one of the best free-kick takers in the league, and any dead-ball situation from within 40 yards will be coming off of his foot and headed for goal. With the additions of Andre Ayew and Eder as well as Bafetimbi Gomis becoming more comfortable in his role, Sigurdsson will have more options to spread the ball to.

Monk’s work earned him a three-year extension this summer.

Coaches’ Corner: At 36-years-old, Garry Monk led Swansea to a record campaign in just his first full season as manager. Monk has been with the club since it’s League Two days, playing as a center-back for ten seasons before taking over on the touchline in 2014. One of the best young minds in the game, Monk had the Swans impressing many with their flowing game, but also knew how to grind out a win when needed.

PST predicts: Swansea City should not only be looking for another top-ten finish, but they should be pushing for another record setting season. Garry Monk now has a year of experience under his belt and has more options on the attack, as Andre Ayew should play a big role for the Swans. Their finish could depend on Bafetimbi Gomis, who will need to become a more consistent scorer to help Monk’s men push for European football.

Reports: Napoli agree record fee for Hirving Lozano

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Mexico’s most expensive player ever will soon be Hirving “Chucky” Lozano.

According to multiple reports, PSV Eindhoven and Napoli have agreed to a $46 million transfer fee for the Mexican international. According to Sky Sport 24‘s Francesco Modugno, the 24-year-old will travel to Rome on Tuesday and complete his medical on Wednesday morning, ending the Serie A club’s summer-long pursuit.

Lozano will reportedly sign a five-year deal with Gli Azzurri worth $4 million per year plus bonuses.

Over the course of the past few months, Napoli were also linked with Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez. In the end, Carlo Ancelotti, who is planning to give Juventus a run for their money this season, is adding the speedy winger to his attacking corps that features the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik.

Despite coming off injured in the 50th minute against ADO Den Haagg in his last PSV appearance, it is believed it won’t influence Lozano’s medical. He will break the transfer record for a Mexican player set by Raul Jimenez in his summer move to Wolverhampton Wanderers from Benfica worth $43 million.

Having sold Memphis Depay for nearly $39 million in 2015 to Manchester United, Lozano’s departure would set a new record for the Dutch giants as well.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Report: Edinson Cavani set to join Inter Miami next summer

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Edinson Cavani is reportedly set to make a big splash in Florida.

According to Uruguayan journalist Alvaro Izquierdo, Cavani, 32, is set to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami next summer. The club will make their MLS debut next season.

The specifics of the supposed move are not know, but per the report from Izquierdo, Cavani will join Miami on a free transfer after his contract with PSG expires in June. Since joining in 2013, El Matador has been irreplaceable for the French giants, scoring over 160 goals and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. This season, Cavani is off to a perfect start -scoring in the first two games of the Ligue 1 season.

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The striker is one of the first superstars linked to Miami, but the general vibe given off by owners Jorge Mas and Beckham is that the club will look to spend big – similar to Atlanta United, LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Miami has signed three players so far ahead of their 2020 MLS debut – Christian Makoun, Julian Carranza, and Matias Pellegrini all currently makeup the squad.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.