Martín Cáceres

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Report: Free agent Martin Caceres heading to Southampton

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Out of contract center back Martin Caceres is reportedly on his way to Southampton to have a medical.

[ MORE: What’s wrong with Leicester? ]

Caceres, 29, last played for Juventus in Serie A during the 2015-16 campaign but after suffering plenty of injury issues over the years he has been without a club since the summer.

He trained with Crystal Palace last week but after they signed Mamadou Sakho they passed on him, while a move to AC Milan has also fallen through.

With the transfer window shut but Caceres available to sign for whoever due to being out of contract, Premier League duo Southampton and Sunderland have now both been linked with a move for the defender who can play as a center back and at either full back positions.

The former Barcelona, Sevilla and Juventus defender has plenty of pedigree at the top level, winning five Serie A titles with Juve and a La Liga and UEFA Champions League double with Barca in 2009 as well as representing Uruguay at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

When it comes to Caceres’ next possible destination, Saints appear to have moved to the front of the queue which makes sense given their desperate need for a new center back. They sold Jose Fonte to West Ham United in the January window and then lost influential defender Virgil Van Dijk for up to three months with an ankle injury.

Japanese international Maya Yoshida has looked steady after stepping in and becoming a starter, but youngster Jack Stephens has been up and down in recent games and Romanian international Florin Gardos has spent over 18 months on the sidelines and is very rusty despite recently returning to full fitness.

That means Saints have just three center backs to choose from heading into their EFL Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley on Feb. 26, plus they aren’t exactly clear of being sucked into the Premier League relegation battle either.

Following their 3-1 defeat to West Ham United on Saturday, their fifth defeat in their last six PL games, Southampton are just seven points above the drop zone.

Puel needs to plug the gaps in defense which have seen them transition from a solid unit who are tough to break down to a side which has conceded 10 goals in their last three games in all competitions.

Caceres may well be the short-term answer. Surely he’s worth a punt on a six-month contract?

Eight-minute spell costs Juventus against Real Madrid, leaves Old Lady drawn, winless in Champions League

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An eight-minute span of the second half sparked by a defender’s mistake nearly cost Juventus on Tuesday, but thanks to a 65th minute equalizer from Fernando Llorente and some help in Copenhagen, the Italian champions still control their knockout round fate. Yet with Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against visiting Real Madrid, Juventus still drop to fourth in their Champions League group, the Old Lady left winless through four group stage matches.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, move six points clear in Group B despite suffering their first blemish of the competition. Thanks to second half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the Merengues were able to overcome an often oppressive host, salvaging a result the run of play said they had no right to claim.

Juventus were dominant in the opening half, their halftime edges in shots (15-5) and shots on target (6-1) indicative of the game’s flow. A superior effort in midfield had not only pinned Real Madrid in their own end but quickly rebuffed any forays toward Juve’s goal. When Raphael Varane conceded a penalty before half, allowing Arturo Vidal to open the scoring before intermission, the one-goal lead was more justice than fortune.

The second half seemed set to continue Juventus’s control before right back Martín Cácares gave Real Madrid their first spark, his terrible back pass deserving of an assist in Ronaldo’s 52nd minute equalizer.  Trying to hit a ball back to his central defenders from along the right sideline, the Uruguyan passed the ball straight to Karim Benzema, who drew the last two defenders to him before laying off to Ronaldo for Real Madrid’s gifted opener.

Eight minutes later, Gareth Bale was allowed to cut in on his left foot and hammer a shot past a lead-footed Gianluigi Buffon, permitting a decidedly second-best Real Madrid to claim a 2-1 lead.

Juventus snared an equalizer five minutes later, Cáceres’s cross finding Fernando Llorente after the Spaniard beat a right back-rusty Sergio Ramos, but by that time, Real Madrid had their legs. Whereas at one time Juventus looked set to claim vital points in their quest to claim Group B’s second spot, the Old Lady had lost control of the match. They were standing on even footing with Real Madrid when they needed to claim a winning goal.

But that score never came. From a game that was within their grasp, Antonio Conte’s team could only claim one point, leaving them winless through four rounds of the tournament. And, thanks to the result of Denmark (Group B’s other game), Juventus is now in last place, their three points in four games one worse than both Galatasaray and a victorious Copenhagen.

The good news, however: They still control their knockout round fate. Win both of their final group stage matches, and their nine points will see them through. But with a trip to Istanbul on the round’s last day, Juve still find themselves in a precarious position, one they could have avoided without eight terrible minutes on Tuesday.

Goals

Juventus: 42′ Arturo Vidal (p.k.), 65′ Fernando Llorente

Real Madrid: 52′ Cristiano Ronaldo, 60′ Gareth Bale

Lineups

Juventus: Gianuligi Buffon, Martín Cáceres, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Kwadwo Asamoah; Andre Pirlo; Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio; Carlos Tevez (82′ Fabio Qugliarella), Fernando Llorente (88′ Sebastian Giovinco)

Unused Subs: Angelo Ogbonna, Marco Storari, Simone Padoin, Paolo De Deglie, Mauricio Isla

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso (71′ Aiser Illarramendi), Sami Khedira, Luka Modric; Gareth Bale (75′ Ángel Di María), Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema (81′ Jesé)

Unused Subs: Daniel Carvajal, Diego López, Isco, Álvaro Arbeloa