Friday Kickoff: Ronaldo, Costa travel to Lisbon; PSG close in on Luiz; and more

Friday Kickoff: Ronaldo, Costa travel to Lisbon; PSG close in on Luiz; and more

South American Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Ronaldo, Costa travel to Lisbon; PSG close in on Luiz; and more

CristianoRonaldoDiegoCostaRealMadridAtleticoMadrid1 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa have both made the trip to Lisbon for the UEFA Champions League final.

Despite injury concerns around the duo earlier in the week, both Ronaldo and Costa traveled with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, respectively, as they prepare for the final at the Estadio Da Luz on Saturday. Ronaldo spent 20 minutes at Thursday’s practice with the Real Madrid first team and worked on his own the rest of the time, while Costa and Arda Turan were both included in the Atleti first-team training on Thursday.

Costa traveled on Tuesday to Serbia to receive treatment from a doctor who reportedly used horse placenta to heal the 25-year-old’s injured hamstring. While Ronaldo, Costa, and even Gareth Bale are set to play, Real Madrid defender Pepe has been ruled out of the final with an injury, bringing Raphael Varane into the starting 11.

Here are some more stories to start off your Friday:

LUIZ SET FOR BIG-MONEY MOVE TO PARIS

David Luiz could be playing alongside his Brazil National Team teammate Thiago Silva at Paris Saint-Germain next season.

Luiz is on the verge of completing a 40 million pound ($67.36 million) transfer to PSG, according to reports in England, spurning a possible move to Barcelona to go to France. Discussions are in an advanced state according to the Guardian and a deal is expected prior to the start of the World Cup.

The move gives Chelsea a sizable chunk of funds to go out and bring in Atletico Madrid’s forward Costa this summer, with whom they are reportedly close to sealing a 32 million pound transfer.

Luiz, who is set to represent Brazil at this summer’s World Cup, played just 19 of 38 English Premier League games this past season, being overtaken by Gary Cahill and John Terry for the starting centerback spots.

With Luiz out of the picture, Barcelona is looking at signing PSG youngster Marquinhos this summer.

LARS BENDER RULED OUT OF WORLD CUP

Germany’s central midfield problems have just increased for head coach Joachim Löw.

Löw learned on Friday that midfielder Lars Bender has been ruled out of the 2014 World Cup with a thigh injury suffered in training at Germany’s training camp in South Tyrol in Italy.

“It’s disappointing for everyone when a player has to pull out due to injury so close to the tournament,” Löw told Deutsche Welle. “I’m really sorry for Lars. I know that he really wanted to be there in Brazil. In terms of character and sporting ability, he’s absolutely a role model.”

Bender’s loss leaves Löw with a 26-man roster ahead of the June 2 deadline to cut the squad to 23. Löw is also left with just Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira as experienced options in central midfield, with both of them working to overcome injury problems all season. Khedira is working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament from November, 2013.

QUICK KICKS

Mehdi Benatia is reportedly open to leaving AS Roma this summer, though the club has closed the door on him leaving. (REPORT)

Toni Kroos has made an about-face and will remain at Bayern Munich for the upcoming season. (REPORT)

AC Milan will reportedly hire Unai Emery from Sevilla to replace Clarence Seedorf as club manager. (REPORT)

Celtic are set to go after former striker Henrik Larsson to become the club’s new manager. (REPORT)

FC Barcelona have scheduled a preseason friendly match against HJK in Helsinki, Finland. (REPORT)

Former Manchester City and Liverpool forward Craig Bellamy has retired at the age of 34. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Ronaldo and Costa starting in the final? Surprised to see PSG pay so much to sign Luiz? How much will Germany miss Bender?

Share your thoughts below.

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