Thursday Kickoff: FA chief aims for 2022 World Cup title; Messi pays tax sum; and more

Thursday Kickoff: FA chief aims for 2022 World Cup title; Messi pays tax sum; and more

South American Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: FA chief aims for 2022 World Cup title; Messi pays tax sum; and more

GregDykeEnglishFA (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The Football Associaton’s new Chairman, Greg Dyke, has laid out his vision of saving English soccer, including the goal of an England World Cup title in 2022, in a media lunch on Wednesday.

Dyke, who said that English soccer has a “serious problem” due to the amount of foreign players and coaches in the English Premier League, also played down the Three Lions’ chances at the upcoming World Cup, assuming they qualify, saying that they certainly wouldn’t have been looked at as favorites.

The former BBC Director General alluded to statistics that point to he decline of English players playing in the Premier League and that within the last 20 years, the percentage of England-eligible starters in the EPL has dropped from 69 percent to 32 percent.

“Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes,” Dyke said to the Guardian. “Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard, I think it’s fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it’s getting smaller.”

Though it’s far away, Dyke said that he wanted the England National Team to be at a point where they are in the semifinals of Euro 2020 and winning the World Cup in 2022.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday kicked off:

MESSI PAYS TAX DEBT

After being accused of tax fraud in June, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father have paid a sum of €5 million ($6.6 million) to the Spanish tax authorities, according to reports in Spain.

The Argentine deposited the money as a “corrective payment” late last month according to court documents, despite the Messi family claiming that they had done nothing wrong and the accusations were false.

Messi and his father were alleged to have hid away more than €4 million by filing false tax returns, and hiding the other income in businesses located in Belize, Uruguay, Switzerland, and the UK. The two are expected in court on September 17, though the Messi’s lawyer has asked for a postponement.

BARCELONA EYE COURTOIS AS VALDES REPLACEMENT

Prior to the start of the current La Liga season, Barcelona and Spanish National Team goalkeeper Victor Valdes announced that this season would be his last at the club, and that he would take a new challenge at a new club next season.

Barcelona considered selling the 31-year-old this summer, but without an immediate replacement, they held off. However, knowing that Valdes will be gone come June, the Barcelona front office have begun to look for replacements, with a ready made one in Atletico Madrid’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, according to reports in Spain.

The Belgian goalkeeper has produced tremendous performances in two seasons with Atletico, on loan from Chelsea, and the 21-year-old shot stopper is reportedly interested in a move to the Camp Nou next season. Barcelona has also had their eye on German international Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, though Spanish publication Marca believes that the Spanish club will only sign one of Ter Stegen or Courtois next summer.

BENDER OUT FOR GERMANY QUALIFIERS

One day before their World Cup qualifying match against Austria, Germany’s midfield has received yet another injury blow.

After already being without the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger due to an ankle injury, the German National Team medical staff announced that midfielder Lars Bender has been ruled out of both of Germany’s World Cup qualifiers in the coming days against Austria and the Faroe Islands due to a hip injury.

The injury forces could force Germany to play attacking midfielder Toni Kroos alongside Sami Khedira in a 4-2-3-1 formation that Joachim Löw has used recently. On the bright side, Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said that the hip problem isn’t serious and that they expect Bender to play in his club Bayer Leverkusen’s next match, next Saturday against Wolfsburg.

QUICK KICKS

When Philipp Lahm takes the field for Germany against Austria on Friday, he’ll earn his 100th career cap, joining seven other players including Miroslav Klose, Franz Beckenbauer, and Jurgen Klinsmann. (REPORT)

Both Vasco Da Gama and Corinthians in Brazil have been banned from having home supporters in their next four games each, with the first two behind closed doors and the second two matches having just away fans inside. (REPORT)

Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez revealed he turned down a move to Real Madrid because of the potential competition between him and Karim Benzema. (REPORT)

The LFP have announced the kickoff times for the next three weeks of matches, including placing the Madrid derby at the Bernabeu Stadium on September 28 to begin at 10pm local. (REPORT)

After a month-long trial, Jose Mourinho’s 14-year-old son, Jose Mario Mourinho, has signed for Fulham’s youth academy. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you agree that English soccer has a huge problem on it’s hands? Do you believe Messi is all finished with his tax issues now? Do you see Courtois as a strong replacement for Valdes?

Share your thoughts below.

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