Simon: Sky Blues can match best

Matt Simon has signed a new one-year deal with Sydney FC, who he believes can win silverware in the new season.

The former Australia international striker scored three goals in his 20 games for the Sky Blues last season, despite spending much of the campaign struggling with a rib injury.

It was a disappointing domestic campaign for Graham Arnold's side, who failed to make the Finals Series, but Simon, who started five of their Asian Champions League matches, feels the relative success they had in that competition bodes well for 2016-17.

The 30-year-old said: "I think we showed in the AFC Champions League at the end of last season we are a club capable of matching it with the best.

"I feel we are a squad who has a lot more to give in the A-League this season and, with the new additions to the squad, we've got a great shot at silverware."

Simon made his name with Central Coast Mariners at the start of his A-League career, where he scored 36 goals in 114 games.

He helped the Mariners win the premiership in 2007-08, and spent his last two seasons in Gosford with Arnold as his coach.

The Sky Blues boss said of Simon, who is eighth on the all-time A-League goalscorers list: "Matt's power, muscle and ability to cause headaches for defenders was hugely evident last season."

Sydney FC, who are 2/5 to win the Grand Final, thrashed Earlwood Wanderers 12-0 in the opening game of their pre-season campaign.

Filip Holosko scored four goals, all inside the opening 20 minutes, while Academy player Mani Gonzalez notched a hat-trick.

Sydney FC are 21/20 to win their first A-League game of the season against Western Sydney, who are 5/2 with the draw 12/5.

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Galatasaray confirm Lucas interest

Galatasaray have confirmed they are interested in Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva while Georginio Wijnaldum is set to move to Anfield from Newcastle United.

Galatasaray director Levent Nazifoglu has said 29-year-old Brazilian midfielder Lucas is on their list of targets.

"One of the players we are interested in is Leiva, but there are other alternatives," he said. "One of them will be up front."

The Brazilian moved to Merseyside nine years ago from Gremio and has featured in 223 Premier League games for the Reds. He played in 40 matches in all competitions last term but Jurgen Klopp has hinted that he would not stop the player leaving Anfield this summer.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have agreed a £25million transfer fee with Newcastle for Netherlands international Wijnaldum.

The 25-year-old midfielder only joined the Magpies last summer from PSV Eindhoven, scoring 11 goals in 38 Premier League matches as Newcastle suffered relegation to the Championship.

Newcastle are 1/1000 to clinch promotion this season while Liverpool are 1/10 to finish in the top four of the Premier League in 2016/17.

Klopp has already signed Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius, Schalke centre-back Joel Matip, Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Grujic, Southampton forward Sadio Mane and Augsburg defender Ragnar Klavan this summer.

Liverpool begin their Premier League campaign away at last season's runners-up Arsenal on 14th August and are available at 10/1 to beat the Gunners 2-1.

Mata offered olive branch

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is adamant that Juan Mata will have a key role to play at the club this season.

Mourinho sold the Spanish midfielder to United when he was the manager of Chelsea and it has been rumoured that the 28-year-old could be heading to Everton this summer.

However, Mourinho said: "He's here and he works hard. He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad.

"Until 31st August the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy, but to be fair I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place."

Mata has scored 21 goals in 86 Premier League appearances for United since his £37.1million transfer from Chelsea in January 2014.

He had been a popular figure at Stamford Bridge after joining the Blues from Valencia for £23.5million in the summer of 2011 and it was a surprise when Mourinho opted to let him move on.

Chelsea are 1/250 to win the 2016/17 Premier League title while United can be backed at 4500/1. United are 3/4 to win their first game of the season on 14th August at Bournemouth.

Content Long pens Saints deal

Shane Long has said he is playing the best football of his career at Southampton after penning a new four-year deal at St Mary's.

The 29-year-old Republic of Ireland international moved to Saints almost two years ago from Hull City and scored eight times in 39 appearances in 2014/15, before finding the net 13 times in 34 matches last term.

Long said: "I'm delighted. I'm excited to be part of what could be a big future in the next four years for this club.

"I love it here, the set-up, the training ground, the lads as well – everyone around the club. It's a real family feel, and I feel like I'm a big part of that and I feel like I'm playing my best football here as well.

"I've enjoyed every minute down here. I'm happy, my family are happy, and it's a good place to be."

Long started his career at Cork City before being signed by Reading 11 years ago. He scored 44 league goals for the Royals before joining West Brom for £6.5million in the summer of 2011.

Cork scored 19 goals in 81 league matches for the Baggies before having a brief spell with Hull City and them moving to Southampton in a £12million deal.

Southampton open their Premier League campaign with a game against Watford on 13th August. They are 11/2 to win the match 1-0 and 6/5 to keep a clean sheet in the encounter.

Hanley targets Newcastle promotion

Scotland international defender Grant Hanley has his sights set on a return to the Premier League after joining Newcastle United on a five-year contract.

The 24-year-old has left Blackburn for an undisclosed fee and is determined to try and help the Magpies return to the Premier League at the first attempt, having previously played in the top-flight with Rovers.

Hanley told his new club's official website: "It is a fantastic opportunity to come and play at such a big club and one that I couldn't turn down.

"It is an exciting step in my career, but it doesn't stop there. This is just the start and I am looking forward to helping Newcastle get back into the Premier League."

The Magpies have been busy in the transfer market already this summer, as they bid to bounce back at the first attempt, with goalkeeper Matz Sels, utility man Isaac Hayden, winger Matt Ritchie and striker Dwight Gayle having already joined.

And head coach Rafa Benitez is confident that Hanley will prove to be another valuable acquisition, adding: "It was clear that we needed another central defender and we were seeking someone with good experience in the Championship.

"Grant is a young player with a lot of ambition to improve and keep growing with us. He is also a strong defender, fast and with personality."

Newcastle begin their Championship campaign on Friday 5th August with a trip to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham.

The Magpies can be backed at 11/10 to win the Championship title next season, while they are 1/1000 to gain promotion, with Aston Villa 4500/1 to secure an immediate return to the English top-flight.

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Morata enjoys dream Real return

Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata says he is delighted to be back at the club, having spent the last two seasons with Italian champions Juventus.

The 23-year-old Spain international helped Juve to back-to-back doubles in Italy before Real exercised a buy-back clause to bring Morata back to the Bernabeu this summer.

The talented forward continues to be linked with move away from Real again before the transfer window shuts at the end of August, but, for now, Morata is delighted to be back among Los Blancos' ranks.

He told the club's official website: "I have had two great years at Juventus, I learned a lot and I can only be thankful because without this experience I would not be here.

"It is incredible to be here again. It is a dream come true and I can't wait to get started."

Morata enjoyed a productive Euro 2016, despite Spain going out in the last-16 to Italy, scoring three times for La Furia Roja.

Meanwhile Real are available at 1/20 to win La Liga next season, with Barcelona priced at 10/1 and Atletico Madrid a 4500/1 shot.

And Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, whose club are reported to have made a couple of bids for Morata already this summer, refused to drawn on whether the Spain international remains a top priority for the Blues.

He said after a 3-0 pre-season friendly win over Austrian outfit WAC RZ Pellets: "About this situation – I prefer to leave it with the club.

"We know our targets and the most important thing is that between me and the club there is a great synergy on the transfer market.

"We know our targets and for me this is the most important thing. It is not important to speak outside, but to keep the secret in this moment I think it is very important."

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Gotze opts for Dortmund return

Mario Gotze is determined to make the most of his second spell with Borussia Dortmund, having sealed his return from Bayern Munich.

The 24-year-old playmaker, who scored the winning goal for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, left BVB three years ago to try his luck at the Allianz Arena.

However, things have not gone to plan with Bayern and Dortmund-born Gotze is eager to make up for lost time back at his hometown club and win over the fans who were unhappy when he first left, having signed a four-year contract.

He told the official BVB website: "When I switched from BVB to Bayern in 2013 that was a conscious decision behind which I will not hide myself.

"Three years later I look with different eyes at my decision. I can well understand that many fans could not understand my decision, I would not even take it today."

"My aim is to play my best football again."

And sporting director Michael Zorc is delighted to see Gotze back at his spiritual home, adding: "Mario is from Dortmund, he is one of the strongest and most creative midfield players in Europe and he is only 24 years old.

"He had many options open to him and he was aware that he did not make the easiest choice by returning to his hometown club."

Dortmund can be backed at 5000/1 to win the Bundesliga title next season, with Bayern priced at 1/10000 and Bayer Leverkusen available at 5000/1.

Meanwhile, defender Neven Subotic, who had been expected to leave BVB before the transfer window shuts at the end of August, will stay put for the time being.

The Serbia international requires surgery on a rib injury and is expected to be out of action until at least the end of the year.

The 27-year-old has been with Dortmund for eight years, but had been lined up for a move to Middlesbrough.

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Guardiola cools Sane rumours

Pep Guardiola is unsure whether he will be able to add Schalke's Germany international winger Leroy Sane to his Manchester City squad.

The 20-year-old has been linked with a move to the Premier League side for several weeks, but Schalke are keen to hold on to one of their promising stars.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has admitted that he is interested in signing the player, but added: "Sane is a player of Schalke. Of course we talk to him – Schalke know we are interested but at this moment we don't have many possibilities to get him.

"There's a difference between City and Schalke and it's quite big but I don't know what's going to happen in the coming weeks and months."

Meanwhile, Guardiola was pleased with the performance of a young City side in their 1-0 pre-season friendly defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

"I am so happy. We did many things we spoke about well and in the right moment – that's why we cannot forget which team we played," he said.

"We have many young players in the team and you've seen them here – all in all, I'm satisfied with what they've shown me."

City's next pre-season match is against Manchester United in the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing.

Guardiola's side are 1212/1 to win the Premier League and League Cup in 2016/17 and 7/1 to beat Sunderland 3-0 on the opening weekend of the campaign.

Klopp coy on Allen exit talk

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has refused to confirm whether Wales international Joe Allen is heading to Stoke City.

Reports on Wednesday evening suggested the Reds had accepted an offer of approximately £13million from the Potters for the former Swansea City midfielder, who was outstanding for Wales at the recent European Championship.

The 26-year-old only has one year remaining on his Anfield contract and has spoken recently of his frustration at his lack of first-team chances at Liverpool under Klopp.

Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers signed Allen from Swansea four years ago for £15million but he has only made 60 Premier League starts for the club, and just eight last term.

When asked about Allen's future, as well as that of full-back Jon Flanagan who is being linked with a loan move to Burnley, Klopp replied: "There is nothing about this and all the transfer rumours.

"We cannot comment because we couldn't do anything else all day if we did, so we shouldn't start with this.

"I feel good [about Allen]. I like the guy and I really think he is a wonderful football player: I knew this before the European Championships, I saw it during the Euros and I know it now.

"I have said all I can say about this. It is all about respecting contracts, negotiating or not – whatever – and make a transfer or not."

Liverpool are 1/10 to finish in the top four of the Premier League in 2016/17 and 17/10 to beat Arsenal on the opening weekend of the campaign.

Sunderland set to lose Allardyce

Sunderland are annoyed that their manager for the last nine months, Sam Allardyce, is set to be named as Roy Hodgson's successor as England boss.

The 61-year-old has only been in charge at the Stadium of Light since October 2015 following Dick Advocaat's departure, but he managed to guide the Black Cats away from the relegation zone, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Norwich City going down instead.

Hodgson resigned as England manager less than four weeks ago following the 2-1 defeat to Iceland that ended their Euro 2016 campaign.

Sunderland issued a statement on Wednesday evening that read: "Naturally we are aware of the intense media speculation this evening. However, at the present time, Sam Allardyce remains Sunderland manager.

"We share in the anger and frustration of our supporters and would like to assure them that we are working to conclude the matter in the best interests of Sunderland AFC."

Hull City boss Steve Bruce was also interviewed for the position but it seems certain that Allardyce will be handed the chance to lead England through their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Allardyce has more than 20 years' experience as a manager having been in charge of Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham before being installed as Sunderland boss.

He still has a year left on his contract at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland are 1/2000 to be relegated this season and 2500/1 to finish in the top half of the Premier League. Meanwhile, England are 20/1 to win the 2018 World Cup outright.