Five thoughts coming off the weekend action:
Because of an injury to Luke Young, Lichaj started for Villa on Saturday in a must-win match against WBA -- under new manager Gerard Houllier, the Villans had won only two of 12 league games. Lichaj's debut was promising. He showed good skill and composure on the ball and he was clearly not overwhelmed by the occasion in Villa's 2-1 victory.
With veteran national team starter Steve Cherundolo aging (he's now 31) and no clear-cut replacement in sight, Lichaj has an opportunity to establish himself as a regular in the U.S. squad. He certainly has the potential to do so. A few years ago, a U.S. youth team national player told me that coming up through the ranks, Lichaj was by far the most talented player he'd faced -- and this was among a pool of players that included Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu.
On the other hand, Tevez does genuinely miss his family back in Argentina and has long expressed a desire to return to the club of his heart, Boca Juniors. A contract renegotiating ploy by his agent can also be ruled out -- City's previous offers to make Tevez the highest-paid player in the Premiership have already been rejected. Instead, the growing suspicion is that Tevez is simply a political pawn in a personal dispute between his adviser Kira Joorabchian and Cook. However, with several years remaining on his contract, City won't let Tevez go cheaply, if at all.
Given his weekly wages and the prospective transfer fee (probably around $47 million), there's no chance cash-strapped Boca could afford him. That leaves Tevez with limited potential destinations or options -- one being Real Madrid, the other being to effectively go on "strike" in an attempt to force a January move.
It's time for some clarification on the matter. Unlike tycoon owners of the Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour ilk, NESV isn't drawing cash from its own pocket to fund its various franchises. Instead, NESV follows a business plan whereby each of its franchises subsists on its own revenues, with most of the profits reinvested into the franchise itself. In the case of the Red Sox -- one of the wealthiest teams in baseball -- adding Crawford and Gonzalez is well within the team's budget and means.
For Liverpool, while it'll never be able to spend at the level of Manchester City, Chelsea or Real Madrid, it will have a far healthier cash flow compared to recent seasons for which it can use to procure new players. By removing the club's debt burden, the £30 million ($45 million) per year that was formerly earmarked for interest payments is more or less freed up for transfers. With the new sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered kicking in (a four-year, $125 million contract), Liverpool is probably looking at an annual transfer kitty of £30 million to £40 million ($45 million-$60 million) in the summer, before even taking into account any revenue recouped from player sales and without the benefit of the even bigger boost it would receive should it regain Champions League status anytime soon.
For example, Chelsea obtained Nicolas Anelka in January 2008 for $23 million, Arsenal bought Andrei Arshavin in January 2009 for $25 million, not to mention Fulham's theft of Brede Hangeland in January 2008 for a fee in the $5 million range. Indeed, the argument could be made that in January, a team might be able to obtain players who might not be on the market come the summer, or might be considerably harder to obtain because of increased competition from other suitors or increased value due to stronger second-half season performances.