Marko Marin

AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis

Olympiakos back on top at halfway stage of Greek season

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) Marko Marin‘s 63rd-minute goal gave defending champion Olympiakos a 1-0 win Sunday over Giannena as it returned to the top of the Greek league.

Marin scored with a powerful drive from just outside the area into the left corner.

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Almost 10 minutes later, Karim Ansarifard’s equally strong drive hit the crossbar. Replays showed the ball clearly crossing the goal-line before bouncing back out, but the referee waved play on.

At the season’s halfway point, Olympiakos is a point ahead of AEK and PAOK. Atromitos is a further point behind.

AEK was held to a 0-0 home draw by 14th-place Apollon, and PAOK won 1-0 at Platanias. Both games were played on Saturday.

Also Sunday, Panathinaikos drew 1-1 at Xanthi, Larissa beat host Lamia 2-0 and Asteras vs. Panetolikos ended 0-0.

PFA chairman says Chelsea’s transfer policy amounts to “warehousing” players

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Chelsea’s recent transfer dealings have been called into question by Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Gordon Taylor after the Blues loaned out 33 players to 26 different clubs across Europe during the recently-completed summer transfer window.

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More than $150 million worth of players (transfer fees paid by Chelsea to acquire the players) were loaned out by the reigning Premier League champions, and Taylor says it’s not only a questionable business practice for Chelsea, but also having too much of an impact on too many different competitions across the continent.

Taylor so far as to say Chelsea’s recent transfer policy amounts to “warehousing of players,” given the way they buy an unprecedented number of players, only to loan them out to various clubs season after season.

Taylor, on Chelsea’s transfer policy, from Goal.com:

“It’s a bit of a worry with so many Chelsea players out on loan. It’s almost a warehousing of players. You wonder whether it brings into question the integrity of the various competitions.”

“But then there are players at these clubs in Europe who are denied the chance because others are coming in with their parent clubs paying their wages. It makes that option more ­attractive.

“So then it is not about the best team winning a ­particular competition, it is about who has the best ­relationship with the biggest clubs.

“It’s not so much something that we’ve been alerted to. It’s something that you can’t fail to notice because it has been such a phenomenal number of players out there.”

The folks running the show at Chelsea are unlikely to be fazed by Taylor’s comments, for a number of reasons. For starters, let’s consider how much money they’ve made by simply buying players at a young age, playing them sparingly or not at all, loaning them out to great success and selling them for more than they paid themselves. Kevin De Bruyne, anyone? Chelsea paid $10 million in January 2012 and sold him to Wolfsburg (after a loan stint at the club) for $27 million two years later.

There’s also Mohamed Salah, for whom Chelsea paid not even $17 million in January 2015. Following a successful loan spell to Fiorentina last season and another deployment to Roma, the Egyptian will likely fetch the Blues $25 million or more next summer. Of course, Chelsea do run the risk of poor investments that don’t return any profit and often times result in a loss — Juan Cuadrado ($35 million last January), Marko Marin ($9 million) and Victor Moses ($14 million) immediately come to mind.

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Taylor’s biggest (and most valid) point, though, is that Chelsea’s farming out of players could — and perhaps already has done so — lead to other clubs relying more on acquiring Chelsea’s best recyclables than focusing on developing and bringing through their own young players.

For instance, if I’m an 18-year-old rising star at Vitesse, the Dutch club who took five Chelsea players on loan this summer, I’m heading straight for the exit door and searching for a club willing to play its own players. In the long run, that’s best-case scenario for nobody but Chelsea.

Done Deals: Cuadrado and Marin leave Chelsea on loan

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With the close of the transfer window quickly approaching, check out what deals have been completed as teams look to build up their rosters before September 1.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Juan Cuadrado only joined Chelsea in January, but he is already on his way out at Stamford Bridge as he has completed a loan move to Italian champions Juventus.

Cuadrado played in Serie A with Fiorentina before moving to Chelsea, but his time in London has not gone as planned as the Colombian winger has only managed 15 appearances for the Blues, with 11 of those coming as a substitute. With the addition of Pedro from Barcelona last week, the chances of Cuadrado finding minutes decreased even more.

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Chelsea sent another winger on loan as Marko Marin completed a move to Turkish side Trabzonspor. Marin has been with Chelsea since 2012, but has only made six appearances for the club while being sent out on loans to Sevilla, Fiorentina, and Anderlecht. Marin has made 16 appearances for the German national team and featured in the 2010 World Cup, but he couldn’t even find a spot on the bench under Jose Mourinho.

Mario Balotelli has completed his medical at AC Milan as he will rejoin his former club on loan from Liverpool. Balotelli’s struggles at Anfield are well documented, and he will get a fresh start under Milan’s new manajer Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Monday’s transfer rumor roundup: Chelsea wantaway to SKC, U.S. teen signs with Liverpool

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You think gossip’s going to take a Monday off? Pssh, please.

Petr Cech has already sealed his Arsenal move, while another London club has sold a player to China. Paulinho is reportedly heading to Guangzhou Evergrande for around $15 million.

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Spurs may not be done today, at least as sellers, as the London Evening Standards says the club may be ready to sell Etienne Capoue to Watford. Also, Sky Sports reports that 23-year-old Czech striker Matej Vydra (right) will be keeping his high-scoring ways at Watford as the club hits the Premier League this season. Vydra scored 16 goals for the Hornets while on loan from Udinese last season.

Italian outlet Rai Sports says Inter Milan is on the verge of taking relatively-unused back Martin Montoya away from Barcelona.

And as Barcelona’s presidential campaigns go on, candidate Joan Laporta says he’s the man to bring Paul Pogba to the Camp Nou once the club’s transfer ban is lifted in January.

“We feel that the key to a potential signing of Pogba is Mino Raiola, with whom we get on with very well, both [Eric] Abidal and myself,” he is quoted as saying in AS.

MLS news from our own Andy Edwards at Sporting Park:

Could Fabio Borini be on his way to West Ham for $12 million?

Top Drawer Soccer says 17-year-old American winger Brooks Lennon has acquired an Irish passport, allowing him to sign with Liverpool. He’s been with the Liverpool U-17 side, and the U.S. U-18 side.

Chelsea sends Marko Marin on loan to Fiorentina

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The Blues have confirmed that bite-sized attacking midfielder Marko Marin will head to Italy for his second straight season out on loan.

Marin is 25 years old, and although he appears much younger than that, time is running out for him to make an impression on Jose Mourinho and the rest of the squad.

He spent last season on loan in Spain, where he made 18 La Liga appearances at Sevilla, assisting five goals while failing to score himself.  He only scored two goals all year for the club, both in one Europa League match against Slask Wroclaw.

Sevilla eventually did win the Europa League, and Marin appeared in 11 (four starts) of their 17 matches during that run.

He joined Chelsea in 2012 from Wolfsburg, but the German attacker has made just 16 appearances for the Blues.  He scored his only goal for the club against Wigan in a 4-1 win in early 2013.

There is no word on whether the Viola have an option to buy, but it’s hard to see Marin returning to Chelsea with so many attacking options at Stamford Bridge.

I saw him play in Miami a few summers ago in a friendly with AC Milan, and while that match (which ended 1-0 to the Italians) was an absolute train wreck from just about everyone involved, Marin was quite unspectacular.