Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

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Before we get to the business at hand — discussing which three Premier League clubs must spend money in a wild and irresponsible manner during tomorrow’s transfer deadline day proceedings — let’s take a moment to discuss how ludicrous it is that “Christmas Eve shopping” is still a modern-day practice.

[ MORE: All of the latest transfer news ]

In terms of running a football club, we’re talking about billions of dollars at play. Not hoping you’ll get lucky and snag the last Turbo Man action figure to give to your kid the next morning. Billions — with a B — of dollars. If I’m the chairman of a club — say, Everton — and another club — say, Chelsea — wants to buy one of my most-prized possessions — say, a center back named John Stones — there’s no way I’m giving the buying club any sort of cut-rate price just because the transfer window is winding down.

Not only do you have little or no time to reinvest that incoming cash, but an entire preseason of preparation and planning is thrown out the window with four months still to pass before you can do a thing about it.

[ JPW’S PL Playback: It’s time to change the rules of the transfer window ]

With that being said, the cash will be flowing once again tomorrow. Here’s a fair guess at who could be writing most of the checks:

3. Sunderland

Disclaimer: It was quite difficult to pick a third team that needs to make waves on transfer deadline day, so I ended up with Sunderland. You might look at their transfer activity this summer and think, “They’ve already net spent $24 million,” which yes, is true. But let’s examine the manner in which they did so.

Fabio Borini for $15 million — risky; Jeremain Lens for $12 million — completely unproven in a major European league; Younes Kaboul for $4.5 million — he’ll be out for three months soon enough; Sebastian Coates for $3 million — never played more than 10 games in a Premier League season; Adam Matthews for $3 million — this ain’t the Scottish Premiership.

What I’m saying is, Sunderland finished last season in 16th place, just three points clear of relegation — and that only happened after another “great escape” in the season’s final weeks. There’s still work to be done for Dick Advocaat’s side, which currently sits bottom of the league with 10 goals conceded through four games, or they’ll be praying for yet another miracle.

[ DONE DEALS: Recapping Man United (and others’) very busy Monday ]

2. Aston Villa

In short, I don’t believe Tim Sherwood has been given enough free reign to spend like the second coming of Harry Redknapp that we all know he is. I need from him a net spend greater than $9 million in his first transfer window as a permanent first-team manager. But more importantly, he needs players capable of keeping the Villans in the Premier League.

Let’s have a look at the backline Sherwood trotted out in their most recent league game, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland: Jordan Amavi (21 years old), Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards and Alan Hutton. That’s a defensive unit capable of resigning even the league’s most prolific of attacks — which they don’t have — to a bottom-third finish, as evidenced in that very game.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday’s officially confirmed transfers ]

1. Arsenal

Let’s count all the areas in which Arsene Wenger should have been strengthening his squad in the 99 days since last season ended: 1) defensive midfield — are we to assume Francis Coquelin can play 38 games without incident? 2) another central midfielder — Jack Wilshere has already missed the season’s first four games; 3) center forward — Olivier Giroud and…who?

If the goal is, as the Gunners said again and again all summer long, to challenge for the title, they don’t just need players to fill those positions. They need genuinely world-class players to do so — the kind of players you don’t acquire in a last-minute deal at a cut-rate price, both of which being characteristics on which Wenger seems intent. Outside of Petr Cech, not a single signing will play a meaningful part in Arsenal’s 2015-16 season.

Not a single one of Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic — all players “linked” to the Gunners this summer — are walking through that door on Tuesday.

Brighton’s Potter joins Howe in taking voluntary pay cut

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Brighton and Hove Albion boss Graham Potter has joined club chief executive Paul Barber and technical director Dan Ashworth in taking a voluntary pay cut for the next three months.

The trio said the decision was made to support chairman Tony Bloom’s “significant efforts to protect all jobs at our club and charity.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Clubs all over the world have been furloughing workers if not laying them off altogether as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on club finances.

On Thursday, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. The clubs were also together in a prior initiative to reward medical workers.

Here’s Potter, via  BrightonandHoveAlbion.com:

“I spoke with Tony Bloom a couple of weeks ago, and I just felt like a normal thing to offer him because he has been good to me. I know the pressure he is under as a chairman and the challenges he faces. It is a small thing we can do but I think it was an important offer.

“Tony being Tony said, ‘Thank you very much but, at the moment we are working through things.’ As things have moved forward, I think we have come to the right decision to do what we have done.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola donated $1 million to fight coronavirus in Catalonia. Whether donations or pay cuts, surely more will come.

Brazil, Argentina league soccer players seek full pay amid coronavirus

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SAO PAULO (AP) As soccer players around Europe accept pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, some of their less-well-compensated South American counterparts are fighting for every penny.

In Brazil and Argentina, players aren’t budging during the league shutdown despite forced cuts to staffing and wages in other leagues around the continent.

Negotiations in Brazil between an association of clubs and the players’ union have failed to reach a deal on pay and early vacations. Team captains and executives are now trying to reach individual decisions, but those could end up in court.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Brazil’s top clubs, fearing a loss of sponsors and rising debts, wanted to cut player salaries by 25% until the pandemic ends. But some players – including those who have been paid late in the past – have asked for the Brazilian soccer confederation to step in. So far it hasn’t, but the union did give some ground on the issue of vacations.

Former players, executives and coaches said they were inspired by the example set by Lionel Messi, who took a 70% cut in pay to help Barcelona keep its staffers during the pandemic. But the voices in Brazil sound more like that of Atlético Mineiro defender Guilherme Arana.

“I don’t think there is a reason (to cut). We are stopping because we need to,” the 22-year-old Arana told Fox Sports. “It is the world that is stopping.”

Atlético, however, said Sunday it will cut salaries by 25%, except for staff members on lower wages.

In Argentina, which has about 4,000 male and female professional soccer players, clubs have not cut salaries and the country’s national federation has not made any recommendations on the issue.

Players’ union leader Sérgio Marchi was, unsurprisingly, against any cuts. He insisted in a radio interview that “it is fundamental” to respect the salaries of soccer players because it would allow the league to resume “without any sort of conflict after this contingency is over.”

“Some (officials) are seeking excuses or mitigating factors for their bad management or to their flawed behavior at the time they are setting up a budget,” he said.

[ MORE: Serie A could return in late May ]

Players in Colombia asked for full pay, but clubs acted swiftly to start saving money.

Jaguares suspended the contracts of 13 members of its squad, Millionarios reduced wages without much debate and Santa Fé pitched fans against players on Twitter by asking them if salaries should be cut. The query ended with 62% of fans voting yes.

Colombian league organizers are also asking the government to broaden some economic policies to help clubs, including those that have suspended players’ contracts so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

“We don’t want taxpayer money to deal with the financial difficulties during this mandatory stop,” Jorge Enrique Vélez, the head of the league, said in an interview with Radio Caracol. “We are asking for policies that the government has already set for tourism and aviation industries. We also had to stop 100%, and we have no revenues during this time.”

In Uruguay, some players are now claiming unemployment benefits after several clubs, including Montevideo powerhouse Peñarol, suspended their contracts. The country’s soccer association has also cut pay for staff, including 73-year-old national team coach Oscar Tabárez.

The biggest exception is in Peru, where Alianza Lima players openly suggested they should be paid less so the club can afford to keep all its workers. Goalkeeper Leao Butrón said the decision was “easy to make.”

“Yes, the offer actually came from us. We wanted to give the club a break,” Butrón said in a radio interview. “They told us that it is not necessary for now. But we don’t know when this will end. We are still willing. Beyond being an economic problem, it is a liquidity issue. A financial issue. We can give a hand if extreme measures are needed.”

Associated Press writers Debora Rey in Buenos Aires and Eric Nuñez in New York contributed to this report.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Serie A could resume training May 2, games late in month

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Blanket testing for players and a 14-day quarantine for foreign players are on the menu as Serie A reportedly looks to resume in May.

Football Italia cites a report from Italian news outlet Adnkronos that discusses a May 2 return to training with matches resuming late in the month.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Vincenzo Spadafora is Italy’s minister for sport, and is hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus is behind the country.

According to the report, any player returning to Italy from abroad would be quarantined for two weeks before returning to training.

After an initial round of testing for all players, more would follow:

More tests would be made weekly to maintain that level of certainty all the way to the end of the season. Clubs are believed to be stocking up on COVID-19 tests, in accordance with medical structures in their cities, ensuring everyone has enough to go around.

The plan may be met with resistance, as combustible Brescia owner Massimo Cellino says his club will not play and has accepted that it earned relegation.

European bodies implore member associations to wait to abandon seasons

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UEFA is speaking up regarding its hope to finish club seasons once the environment is safer.

Sky Sports reports that UEFA has sent a letter to its 55 members associations imploring them not to cancel their competitions early and that they exhaust all options “until the last possibility exists.”

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The letter is signed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli and European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson.

The report comes as the Belgian Super League reportedly prepares to award its league title to Club Brugge on April 15. The league would be the first to see its season abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From Sky Sports:

“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

Many leagues, such as the Premier League, continue to suspend their seasons indefinitely as they wait for improvements with the coronavirus pandemic.

Although UEFA have relaxed their previous stance that domestic seasons should be finished by June 30, it is looking more likely that the 2019-20 season would need until August or September.