Thursday Kickoff: Suarez fit to face England; Barca make Higuain offer; and more

LuisSuarezUruguay1-Jordan2013 (Getty)

By TATE STEINLAGE 

Uruguay’s best player will be ready to go from the start when La Celeste take the field on Thursday afternoon.

Luis Suarez has been declared fit for Uruguay in their second match of the 2014 World Cup, against England at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. Suarez underwent an operation on his meniscus in early June and could not return in time for Uruguay’s World Cup opener, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica.

With Suarez back on the field, Diego Forlan could either slide to one of the wing positions or drop to the bench and serve as a second-half option when England has heavier legs. Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez has admitted however that he’s taking a big gamble by playing Suarez so soon after surgery. Suarez believes that he is 100 percent healthy and ready to go.

The 27-year-old mercurial striker is coming off one of the finest English Premier League seasons in recent memory, scoring 31 times in 33 games and racking up a number of personal Player of the Year awards.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

FC BARCELONA MAKE BID FOR HIGUAIN

Luis Enrique’s reconstruction project at FC Barcelona is in full gear, but the club’s prized summer transfer target may take a bit longer to complete than hoped.

According to a report in La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Barcelona have offered Napoli 55 million euros ($75 million) for forward Gonzalo Higuain to reunite him with his international teammate Lionel Messi. However, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is unwilling to part with Higuain unless offered 70 million euros.

Di Laurentiis in the meantime is waiting for the World Cup to end, when he can begin new contract negotiations with Higuain. The report states that the Argentine striker could see his wages rise by 500,000 euros over the next five seasons and have a buy-out clause in his contract of 70 million euros, the same price that Barcelona are being asked to pay.

BALOTELLI TRANSFER SPECULATION INTENSIFIES

Mario Balotelli may be on his way to England, if recent comments by the 23-year-old’s agent prove to hold weight.

“Arsenal are a fantastic club,” Mino Raiola said, reacting to British reports linking the Italian to English Premier League side Arsenal. “Only eight or 10 clubs in the world can afford Mario Balotelli – like all premium players, and he is one of the greatest.”

As to whether the move will happen, Raiola said: “Anything is possible.” Balotelli is currently under a four-and-half-year contract with AC Milan, which purchased the striker in January of last year.

The transfer talks are believed to be a result of racial abuse suffered in Italy, including ahead of this year’s World Cup. Others suggests that Arsenal’s 2014-15 kit deal with Puma, who also sponsors Balotelli, could play a financial factor in a move.

Balotelli scored the game-winning goal for Italy against England in the Italians’ World Cup opener Saturday.

BRAVO NOT CONCERNED WITH BARCA TRANSFER RUMORS 

Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is currently in Brazil helping the Chilean national team with its World Cup campaign, but that hasn’t stopped the Spanish media from asking about his future.

Bravo, 31, has been linked to a move to Barcelona since the end of the La Liga season, which also marked the end of the Victor Valdes era at Camp Nou. However, with the World Cup in full swing, the Chilean has been reluctant to go into detail about a possible move.

“I am not anxious, I am calm instead,” Bravo told Estadao. “I am with the national team and I am not worried about what might happen in the future. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Bravo has spent eight years in Spain at Real Sociedad, appearing in over 200 matches during that time.

BARCA REACH AGREEMENT WITH RAKITIC 

Ivan Rakitic will join Barcelona for its 2014-15 season after reaching an agreement with the club Monday.

The 26-year-old midfielder has agreed to a five-year deal with Barcelona, moving from Sevilla to Camp Nou after three seasons. Rakitic impressed last season, making 59 appearances and scoring 15 goals, while also leading Sevilla to the 2013-14 Europa League title.

Rakitic is currently with the Croatian national team in Brazil at the World Cup. He’s expected to officially sign the deal following the tournament and the start of the summer transfer window (July 1). 

QUICK KICKS

Spain midfielder and new Chelsea signing Cesc Fabregas has insisted that he told Barcelona management he wanted to leave the club after three seasons. (REPORT)

Fabregas’ Spain teammate Xabi Alonso has revealed that his national team side was not mentally prepared nor hungry enough to win its first two World Cup games. (REPORT)

Argentine fullback Marcos Rojo has admitted that he would love to play with international teammate Lionel Messi at club level but he hasn’t discussed a transfer move with his club, Sporting Lisbon. (REPORT)

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Laurent Blanc has blocked Marquinhos from leaving the club this summer. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you believe Suarez is 100 percent fit? Do you see Higuain moving to Barcelona this summer? Do you feel that Balotelli could leave Milan?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Suarez fit to face England; Barca make Higuain offer; and more

  1. Jon says:

    You have in your Balotelli section that he is 32 years old. Simple typo as he is indeed 23, not 32.

  2. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Xabi Alonso was second worse player vs Chile: missed two sitters and one giveaway which Chile scored, and too simple crosses.

  3. Fast Eddie says:

    Poor England, don’t look like they have much of a chance to get out of group.

  4. Gordoninho says:

    I hope MLS is soon viewed as an option for players who are tired of the racial abuse they receive in Italy and Spain.

    • slowleftarm says:

      That would be nice and I think we’re getting there as MLS’ level of play and profile improves. All comes down to getting enough money into the league to enable MLS teams to offer competitive salaries. Guys will come here if the salaries are comparable because living in the US is awesome.

  5. Gordoninho says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but I love seeing Kobe Bryant and Lebron James showing their support for the USMNT and their interest in the sport, in general.
    Lots of talk in this country is about young players switching to soccer from football due to the risk of head injuries. Having said that, the dream of playing in the NBA is an extremely unrealistic one for many children who will not grow taller than 6’2″. If Lebron and Kobe can help make soccer more appealing to larger demographic, I’m all for it.
    Go, go USA!

  6. Shark says:

    Almost all of these stories are about transfers at Barca, which I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be banned from making. Glad Financial Fair Play is going as planned…

    • Ryan says:

      I could be wrong but i believe the ban was lifted.

      • Alex says:

        The ban wasn’t lifted, it was pushed to next year.

        • Brain Guy says:

          It’s being appealed. Conveniently leaves Barca just enough time to re-stock before the ban takes effect.

          • slowleftarm says:

            True but that’s also how appeals work. If you stop them making transfers pending the appeal and then they win the appeal then they were punished for nothing.

    • Eurosnob says:

      You should be more concerned about ManCity and PSG in terms of financial fair play. Barca’s initial punishment due to violations in pursuing youth players, not overspending, and it was postponed so Barca is free to sign players this summer.

  7. Ronald senat says:

    I need to no everythin abut this player

  8. Alex says:

    It still baffles me why Barcelona are going after players like Higuain and Koke when what they need is defensive reinforcements.

    • Tom says:

      With Fabregas and possibly Xavi going (and Xavi getting old even if he doesn’t go) the midfield reloading, at least, is necessary. They sure do need CBs though.

    • Eurosnob says:

      I have been asking the same question for the last three years. They need to get a quality CB or two.

  9. SilverRey says:

    “Arsenal’s 2014-15 kit deal with Puma, who also sponsors Balotelli, could play a financial factor”

    Is this the way around financial fair play? Just let the sponsors pick up the bill for players…

    I may be naive to the way things work on the financial side of things, but I don’t remember seeing this before. Are there other players out there for whom the sponsors have had a say in where they go, let alone affect deals directly with cash?

  10. Pingback: Soccer Transfer Speculations 2013 | ZamRin