When it comes to ageless wonders, Ryan Giggs must be right up there with the best of them. I mean, he’s not Mick Jagger or anything, but good heavens! The man is still delivering the goods around Old Trafford at age 39. He turns 39, in fact, today.
Giggs played his first match for Manchester United in 1990.
Big Important Stories of the Day:
Major League Soccer presents its 2012 Volkswagen MVP during a semi-fancy luncheon ceremony at the Home Depot Center. We’ll try to act surprised when they call Chris Wondolowski’s name.
The Galaxy has a media availability prior to the MVP announcement, so we’ll see what comes out of that.
The Dynamo will hit town, too, arriving into (somewhat rainy) Southern California on Thursday evening, following a training back in Houston.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day: Wade Barrett
*Ahead on the blog today:
David Beckham – because this blog has been shamefully remiss in building up the David Beckham angle for MLS Cup. We promise to be better.
Also, discussion of the MVP honor, talk of a wave of player releases in MLS and possibly some words about the ongoing Darren Bent brouhaha in England.
What you should watch on TV today:
The first leg of Liga MX’s final, featuring Tijuana and Toluca, kicks off at 9:55 p.m. ET on Univision Deportes.
* Always subject to change; you know how it is
Arsenal still waiting on severity of Alexis Sanchez’s injury
Arsene Wenger has come under plenty of criticism for playing Sanchez, 26, despite the Chilean star complaining of a hamstring injury before the Norwich game on Sunday, and when he pulled up clutching his left hamstring in the second half Wenger’s face was one of anger and disappointment.
Multiple reports claim that Sanchez’s injury is still being assessed by Arsenal’s medical staff as Wenger faces an anxious wait to see how long his star forward is out for.
“Nobody is scientifically developed enough, not even the press, to predict exactly when a guy will be injured,” Wenger said. “I would have rested him but he felt perfectly alright before the game. We declared that he had no problem. Despite all the tests he looked alright. The players are there to play football not to be rested when the press decides that they need to be rested. He [Alexis] says it is a kick on his hamstring but I believe that is not really the reality.”
The reality is that Sanchez — who has scored nine times in 20 appearances this season — could miss some crucial games for the Gunners, including their UEFA Champions League Group F showdown with Olympiakos next Wednesday in Greece. Arsenal need a win by a two-goal margin or any win by scoring three or more goals to advance to the last 16 of the UCL, but with Sanchez out and plenty of others struggling, the dreaded injury plague struck the North London club in November, a month they always seem to falter in, once again.
Santi Cazorla suffered a knee injury against Norwich and like Sanchez it’s unclear how long the Spanish midfielder will be out for. The only piece of good news to come from Sunday’s draw in Norfolk is that Laurent Koscielny should be available to play against Sunderland on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) after overcoming a hip injury which forced him off early last weekend.
Muller, 26, has previously revealed he turned down a move to United but with Pep Guardiola’s future at Bayern unclear beyond the current season, the product of Bayern’s academy may feel now is the right time to move on even though he’s contracted to the German powerhouse until 2019.
If he does, Europe’s biggest teams will be lining up and according to a report in the Daily Mirror Chelsea want to sign Muller and will make an audacious move to make him their main striker as Jose Mourino and Diego Costa‘s fallout continued with the Spanish international left on the bench during the draw at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
With Costa sulking, Mourinho has been linked with moves for a number of strikers in January and next summer with Jamie Vardy, Saido Berahino and Antoine Griezmann all mentioned in the gossip columns.
In the past Muller has said that he turned down “astronomical offers” to join foreign clubs and United were his main suitors. With the man who gave him his debut at Bayern, Louis Van Gaal, now in charge at United and the Red Devils continuing to spend big, Muller has been constantly linked with a switch to Old Trafford but many Bayern greats are urging him to remain at the Allianz Arena to become a Bayern legend, or at the very least join the all-conquering Barcelona rather than head to England.
Muller’s predatory finishing alongside Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian certainly seems like a good fit at Chelsea and you can understand why they would want to break the bank to get him, but offloading Costa and others first must be the priority which is why any such deal for Muller seems unlikely to happen until next summer at the earliest.
If the man who has scored 141 goals in 325 games for Bayern is intent on leaving the Bundesliga after spending his entire career in Bavaria, then Chelsea and United will be falling over themselves to sign him.
The Blues will have to play away from their home for up to three seasons while the current stadium is upgraded, with most of the existing structure being demolished and revamped as Russian owner Roman Abramovich will finance the new stadium which could cost over $750 million.
Via the club website, Chelsea issued the following message to fans and their neighbors in West London, as anybody who has ever visited the Bridge will tell you that it’s squeezed into a tight 12-acre site banked by housing, two train lines, a cemetery and more.
A planning application for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge with an expanded seating capacity has been submitted. This follows a successful consultation process during which we received very helpful feedback. This application will now be examined by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
The main details of the application are:
– Stadium seating capacity to expand from 41,600 to 60,000 spectators
– An outstanding view of the stadium from every seat
– An arena designed to create an exciting atmosphere
– Direct access to and from Fulham Broadway Station, making travel more efficient
– Stadium facilities improved for every area
The planning process will last beyond the end of the season; if the application is granted planning permission there will still be a lot of work to do before redevelopment can start, including obtaining various other consents. We will inform you of progress through this process.
This will not be an easy project to get over the line but looking at the stunning photos below, if Chelsea can get this through the planning stage and put a shovel in the ground sometime soon, then their ability to attract almost 20,000 extra fans to home games will see them able to compete and surpass Europe’s big boys financially.
After searching for numerous other sites in London to build a new stadium, Chelsea have instead opted for the costlier option of staying at Stamford Bridge. The redevelopment would involved a complex excavation which would see the pitch lowered into the ground in order to squeeze in all 60,000 fans. If they get the green light the stadium would have the same capacity as Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, while expansions to Anfield, the Etihad Stadium and White Hart Lane will also see those stadiums hover around the 60,000 mark.
With a capacity of 75, 731 Old Trafford remains the biggest stadium in the Premier League but the others are catching up as UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules continue to kick in and generating more revenue from ticket sales is key for clubs like Chelsea who aim to perennially challenge for the top titles domestically and in Europe.
If Chelsea are able to build a new stadium at Stamford Bridge they will have to find a temporary solution in London with both Wembley Stadium and Twickenham mentioned as options. However, with Tottenham also looking for a temporary home while White Hart Lane is redeveloped, there could be quite a battle between those two for a solution.
Anyway, take a peak at these photos below to see how a new Stamford Bridge would look.
On Tuesday it was announced that after six months of talks a 13 percent stake in the City Football Group (CFG), owned by Abu Dhabi based Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was sold to investors from China for $400 million.
CFG comprises of the jewel in its crown, Man City, plus New York City FC in Major League Soccer, Melbourne City FC in Australia’s A-league and a stake in the Yokohama Marinos in Japan.
This huge investment from a Chinese consortium — made up of China Media Capital Holdings and CITIC Capital — comes less than a month after China’s President Xi Jinping visited City’s training ground during a tour of Britain.
Why are Chinese investors pumping millions of dollars into the already wealthy club?
The chairman of China Media Capital — a state-backed media firm — Ruigang Li believes that the consortium’s investment can help the growth of soccer in China.
“We and our consortium partner CITIC Capital also see this investment as a prime opportunity for furthering the contribution of China to the global football family,” Li said.
As for City, they aim to make the most of this link up with China with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak hopeful of the extra growth opportunities this deal will provide.
“Our belief is that we now have an unrivaled platform to grow CFG, our clubs and companies both in China and internationally,” Al Mubarak said. “We will be working hard with our new partners to realize the potential that this deal creates.”
Perhaps more important than this investment from China is the fact that the company which owns Man City is now valued at $3 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. Their close neighbors Manchester United are currently valued at $3.05 billion on the NYSE. United seeing their so called “noisy neighbors” not only succeed on the pitch but now challenge their financial dominance off the pitch, the Red Devils will be wary of City’s rise to the upper echelons of English and European soccer, and now way beyond that with their ventures overseas and particularly in China after this huge influx of cash.
If, as seems to be the case, it’s a matter of if and not when the sport of soccer explodes into mainstream society in China, City being owned by companies with close links to the Chinese state will certainly help them generate more fans, revenue and business from the country with the largest population on planet earth. Tapping into that potential — other teams like Real Madrid, Liverpool and United have a strong and loyal fanbase in East Asia — seems like a savvy move for a club who have invested billions of dollars in building themselves into a world superpower.