Davy Klaassen

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Everton drop another $30 million for Klaassen; Toffees mean business

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New Everton owner Farhad Moshiri promised big things — including, among other things, a new stadium and a replenished transfer war chest — when he bought the club last February.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Fast forward 16 months, and boy oh boy, has Moshiri come good on his promises thus far. A stadium deal remains in the works with a land deal agree in March, and though the summer transfer window is only in its infancy, the Toffees have been plenty busy, most notably for the $68 million departed to complete a pair of key signings on Thursday.

Jordan Pickford was announced as the club’s new record signing in the early afternoon, followed a few hours later by the confirmation of 24-year-old Dutch midfielder Davy Klaassen as the club’s latest signing, for a fee of $30 million.

[ MORE: Donnarumma to leave AC Milan; Real Madrid come calling ]

Klaassen, who’s spent his entire career (55 goals in 180 appearances — all competitions) at Ajax, has been linked with every Premier League giant under the sun for years now. He’s been capped 14 times by the Netherlands and has four international goals to his name.

With two key signings already in the door, Everton’s attention will now turn to the futures of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. Klaassen could very well be Barkley’s replacement, with the 23-year-old failing to sign a new contract as of yet, and perhaps even an upgrade from the Englishman. If Lukaku and/or Barkley do depart Goodison in the coming weeks or months, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not that money is reinvested immediately, or if the signings of Pickford and Klaassen were merely a precursor of the inevitable.

Or, perhaps the early transfer dealings are one last attempt at convincing the pair to stay for at least one more season and make a run at crashing the top-four/six party.

Report: Everton chasing Sigurdsson, Klaassen

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Swansea City could avoid relegation and still lose its talisman.

Reports had claimed Gylfi Sigurdsson would be a Southampton target were Swans to drop into the Championship, but Everton is hoping to tempt the Welsh side and Iceland star with big money regardless of the side’s status for next season.

The report comes on the heels of Koeman telling Ross Barkley he had a week to decide whether he’d sign a new contract to stay at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Top PL story lines — Week 37 ]

Sky Sports says Everton is willing to go as high as $32 million for Sigurdsson, and he’s not the only notable name on Ronald Koeman‘s wish list.

Everton are likely to face competition from Southampton for the 27-year-old, whose current contract at Swansea runs until 2020.

As well as Sigurdsson, Ronald Koeman is interested in signing Ajax captain Davy Klaassen.

In terms of consistency, both Klaassen and Sigurdsson have proven themselves a bit more than the 23-year-old Barkley. And the English international would fetch a pretty penny from the winning Premier League bidder.

Man United’s Memphis Depay dubbed “Bond villain” of struggling Netherlands side

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With the Netherlands in grave danger of not qualifying for the 2016 European Championship in France — the Dutch currently sit fourth in Group A, two points back of Turkey in third for a place in the qualifying playoffs, with just two games left to play — which has, understandably caused a bit of criticism to be lobbed the way of the current Dutch squad.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage | EURO 2016 qualifying ]

One figure, however, that you might not expect to be hammered for his contributions to the team, given the Oranje‘s penchant for conceding lots and lots of goals, is Manchester United forward Memphis Depay. Alas, that hasn’t stopped Willem van Hanegem, a fixture for the Dutch national team in the 1970s, from going all-in with his anti-Memphis agenda.

Van Hanegem, on why Memphis is the Netherlands’ real problem, from the Mirror:

“There are a few players at Oranje that only think about themselves. Take Memphis for instance. He’s just like Goldfinger with his golden shoes. But what is the use of that for Netherlands?

“I don’t care that he comes to Oranje with a hat and a scarf. What he does outside of the pitch is his own business. But with a couple of suspenders and a beard, he could easily join the Amish people in America and sit on a wagon.”

First things first, that’s an all-time great quote. The analogies, the imagery, the crabbiness from a figure of the past begrudging a current player of reaching heights he never did — it’s all spectacular.

But if Van Hanegem wants to call out Memphis as the chief issue among the current Dutch squad, it might be time for a come-to-Jesus moment for the 71-year-old former midfielder. In fact, it’s Van Hanegem’s area of expertise — central midfield — that’s letting down this Dutch team.

[ EURO qualifying roundups: Saturday | Sunday | Monday ]

Take Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Turkey for example — where was the pressure in midfield? Oh yeah, that’s right, there was none because Davy Klaassen and Daley Blind is possibly the most immobile, defending-averse double pivot in the history of the world. Not that he should be called back in (far from it, in fact), but this Dutch team misses a Nigel de Jong-type player that protects the backline and reduces their workload of emergency defending by at least 25 percent.

So Van Hanegem can continue to deride Memphis all he wants, but the 21-year-old attacker is roughly the Netherlands’ 15th-biggest problem at the moment.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Celtic escapes through Boyata; Ajax draws

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Dedryck Boyata’s late winner has the purchase of the former Manchester City man looking even better, as Celtic netted a late win in its UEFA Champions League first leg against Qarabag.

The Azerbaijani champions nearly walked out of Celtic Park with a deadlock, but Boyata’s second goal in as many games did the trick for the Scottish powers. The 24-year-old defender also scored in the last round’s first leg versus Stjarnan.

The second leg is Wednesday back in Azerbaijan.

[ MORE: Swiss star Barnetta joins MLS; Orlando signs pair ]

The highest-profile match pitted Rapid Vienna against Ajax, and the Dutch side’s two away goals give it an advantage despite a deadlock in Austria.

Davy Klaassen scored both Ajax goals before halftime, but Rapid Vienna rallied to score in the 48th minute before tying it in the 75th despite being down to 10 men after a 58th minute straight red to Stefan Schwab.

Other first legs

source: Getty Images
Salzburg’s Benno Schmitz (L) stops a ball watched by Felipe Carvalho of Malmo (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

HJK Helsinki 0-0 Astana
Red Bull Salzburg 2-0 Malmo
Steaua Bucharest 1-1 Partizan Belgrade
Lech Poznan 1-3 FC Basel
CSKA Moscow 2-2 Sparta Prague
Midtjylland 1-2 Apoel Nicosia
Milsami Orhei 0-2 Skenderbeu Korce
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-2 Viktoria Plzen
Fenerbahce 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Panathinaikos 2-1 Club Brugge
BSC Young Boys 1-3 AS Monaco
Videoton 1-1 BATE Borisov
Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Molde

World Cup Preview Group B: Reigning Spain meets Chile, Netherlands, Australia

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Reigning Spain will meet anything but plain teams in Group B.

A loaded group with stars to burn — Arjen Robben doesn’t even make our Top Five players for the bunch — Group B should provide a bunch of terrific games. Australia is the afterthought of the four, but anything could happen and a Socceroos upset behind Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak would provide an even wilder card.

Let’s take another look at Group B (click on country name for full preview)

Spain: Loaded, as usual. The only question is whether they’ll adjust to the hemispheric chance right away in what is the likely the last go-round for a group of legendary Spaniards that includes Xavi, David Villa and Xabi Alonso.

Netherlands: Never rule out a team with Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Robben, though it can be tempting. Can they turn back the clocks of time past 2012’s Euro struggles to the World Cup final run of 2010? Can they avoid murdering each other in training?

Chile: Look out for La Roja. Their only losses since March 2013 are to Brazil and Germany, with both matches played far from South America. The fan expectation will be getting out of the group, but is that fair?

Australia: Can Jedinak and Cahill skipper the Socceroos out of the round? Doubtful, but everyone loves an underdog.

Who’s going through: Spain and Chile. Especially given the South American locale, I wouldn’t sleep on the Chileans to spring a surprise and win the group.

Who’s going home: Australia and the Netherlands. Call it a shock if you will, but Holland is without its maestro in Kevin Strootman and is fresh off a major disappointment at Euro 2012. The Davy Klaassen-era is next, but he’s not even on this roster.

Marquee match: With apologies to the 2010 World Cup final rematch between the Dutch and Spain, Match 36 will pit Chile and the Netherlands against each other and is arguably for the right to advance. Both clubs will have played Spain, which will be finishing off its group stage against Australia.

Top players to watch:

5. David Silva, Spain

4. Robin van Persie, Netherlands

3. Arturo Vidal, Chile

2. Alexis Sanchez, Chile

1. Andres Iniesta, Spain