What we’re thinking, what we’re watching, what’s coming on the blog today and the RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day). Setting up your day in soccer …
Birthdays of note: It’s a big day for goalkeepers. Manchester City and England backstopper Joe Hart turns 25. Closer to home, former Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton, now with the Montreal Impact, turns 35. Also, former England great Trevor Francis (not a ‘keeper) turns 58 and former Brazilian great Rivaldo turns 40.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Tony Chursky
Ahead on the blog today: Rafa Marquez suspension talk (It’s bound to come down today, right?), and, since it’s seems to be a day for goalkeepers, we’ll rank the men in goal in Major League Soccer.
Twitter daps: Red Bulls and U.S. national team striker Juan Agudelo (@juanagudelo17), having a weak moment: “Trying to stop my hand from putting girls scout cookies in my mouth. #problems”
PST background noise while blogging today: Podcasts. Lots of soccer podcasts.
We’ll leave you with this: Best save ever? You’ve heard of this one, right? It’s Gordon Banks (some call him the best ever) saving off of Pele in the 1970 World Cup:
Samir Nasri‘s soccer career has taken a nosedive since his seven-goal, nine-assist season in 2012/13, both internationally and domestically.
The 29-year-old winger has retired from the French national team after to being frozen out by Didier Deschamps, and has seen a decline in playing time for Manchester City two seasons in a row. Now with a new manager and a fresh start at the Etihad, things aren’t exactly off with flying colors out of the gates.
Nasri hasn’t featured thus far in Manchester City’s preseason, and manager Pep Guardiola said it’s because of his fitness. “Samir arrived a little bit overweight,” Guardiola said following the team’s win over Borrusia Dortmund in International Champions Cup play from China. “He’s much better now, but still there is a little bit of weight. Last season he was injured and we want to avoid that.”
City took down Dortmund on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The squad fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich last week in the team’s first pre-season match. Nasri did not appear in either, and defender Gael Clichy – without naming names – said that Guardiola has forced those with fitness issues to train on their own.
“We have a few players who are not training with the team yet,” Clichy, a former teammate of Nasri’s at Arsenal, said on Wednesday. “If your weight is too high, you’re not training with the team. You have to know that if your weight is 60 kilos and you are on 70 kilos, then you cannot play football.”
Guardiola backed up his policy on Wednesday following Clichy’s comments. “The weight is so important. When you are not fit, danger is coming. You’re not fast enough or quick enough in the head. That’s why you need to be fit.”
Liverpool wanted to get younger at the back, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.
Despite reportedly heavy interest from Anfield, 19-year-old defender Ben Chilwell has signed a new five-year deal with Leicester City, tying him down through the summer of 2021.
The Leicester City defense desperately needs Chilwell’s youth as it ages yet another year following their run to the Premier League title. Robert Huth is 31 years old, Wes Morgan – also on a new deal this summer – is 32, and backup Marcin Wasilewski is 36. On the left edge, where Chilwell is most proficient, first-choice left-back Christian Fuchs is 30, while Jeffrey Schlupp provides the only other true bit of youth at 23. On the right, Danny Simpson is 29 and Richie De Laet is 27.
The youngster was reportedly a high-priority target for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, lodging a number of bids with the news that Brad Smith would move to Bournemouth. According to reports in England, the Reds made one last effort to bid for Chilwell prior to his extension, but it did not bear fruit.
“Ever since I arrived in Leicester, Ben has been a young player that has shown a lot of promise,” Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri told the club’s official website
. “He has all the attributes you would want in a defender and shows a lot of maturity for a player of just 19. He has come back for pre-season in very good condition and is already showing that he is ready to push for a place in the team.”
Chilwell, a Leicester City academy product, has yet to make a Premier League appearance, but has featured for the England youth teams at multiple levels.
The finishing touches are being put on the biggest transfer in history.
A report from ESPN FC claims that Paul Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, is locked in talks with Juventus to finalize an offer of $132 million from Manchester United.
[ MORE: Fabregas off in fiery friendly ]
Pogba, 23, has been chased by United all summer and it finally appears that Jose Mourinho has his man.
The report goes on to state that Pogba could have a medical in Miami on Friday (where he is currently on vacation) as United aim to tie up the deal by the weekend.
This week it had been reported that a major snag in the deal had arrived due to Raiola demanding over $22 million for brokering the deal. However it seems as though any talk of an impasse has now passed and United are now close to sealing the huge deal for the French international midfielder.
Pogba left United for a $1.2 million compensation fee in 2012 after he failed to break into Sir Alex Ferguson‘s team. Now, just four years later, he will return to Old Trafford with four Serie A titles in his trophy cabinet plus he was named as the best young player at the 2014 World Cup.
Real Madrid and Barcelona were previously linked with Pogba but United’s riches, despite the Red Devils not being in the UEFA Champions League next season, seem to have prevailed.
Mourinho said in his first press conference as United’s manager that he wanted four key players to arrive as part of his rebuild.
He got Eric Bailly. He got Zlatan Ibrahimovich. He got Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Now it looks like the fourth, and most important, player will arrive.
There are just six days to go until the Olympic soccer tournament kicks off in Brazil.
We’ve already ranked the top 20 players in the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments at Rio 2016 and now it is time to look each team.
[ STREAM: Watch Olympic soccer here ]
With host nation Brazil the clear favorites in the men’s competition, the U.S. women’s national team is also head and shoulders above the rest as they aim to pick up a fourth-straight Gold medal.
Below you can find the “power rankings” if you will, of the teams competing this summer for a place atop podium.
- Korea Republic
- South Africa
- South Africa