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When Dani Alves left Barcelona to join Juventus over the summer, the Blaugrana appeared to have the right back vacancy covered.
However, manager Luis Enrique appears to be turning his attention to the Premier League in order to replace the versatile Brazilian defender.
According to SunSport, Barcelona is prepared to approach Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne during the winter transfer window as the Spanish giants look to lock down the right back position.
The 25-year-old is reportedly seen as a significant upgrade from Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal, both of whom have been tabbed as starters this season for Barcelona.
Clyne has appeared in 12 matches this PL season for the Reds, who currently sit tied atop the Premier League with Manchester City and Arsenal on points.
In addition to Clyne, SunSport reports that Glen Johnson is also a consideration for the Blaugrana, however, the 32-year-old is certainly not a first option for Enrique and Barcelona given his age and drop in form.Follow @MattReedFutbol
One of Major League Soccer’s most wide open new rivalries headlines a glorious quartet of first legs when the Conference Semifinals get going on Sunday.
[ MLS: Conference semis schedule ]
Toronto FC and New York City FC have squared off five times in a nascent rivalry which has seen plenty of thrills, including a 4-4 draw in NYC last season.
TFC has three draws but is yet to top NYCFC. There are so many reasons to love this match-up: the tactical face-off between Patrick Vieira of NYC and Greg Vanney of Toronto; the combined firepower of David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Andrea Pirlo.
Aside from the postage stamp pitch at Yankee Stadium for the second leg, almost everything about this is wonderful.
[ MORE: JPW talks with USL commish Edwards ]
The other Eastern Conference semi sees the Montreal Impact building off its upset of DC United with a pair of matches against high-flying New York Red Bulls.
The first match is in Montreal, and the Stade Saputo is a big, loud place. Didier Drogba is no longer featuring for the hosts, but Ignacio Piatti has been as good as any players in the league (He deserves MVP consideration but it seems politically difficult to imagine it will go anywhere besides a New York team or Giovinco).
The Red Bulls haven’t lost since July 3, and feature a dominant group up the middle which includes Luis Robles, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestand, and Bradley Wright-Phillips. This, too, shall be fun.
Over in the West, we see suddenly starring Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy opening up against surprising Colorado Rapids.
A Donovan vs. Tim Howard match-up is in some ways an Evertonian and USMNT fan’s dream, but this will be more about whether Colorado’s “no-name” — outside of Howard and Jermaine Jones — team can stare down the star power of the Galaxy. Look for sneaky star Shkelzen Gashi to make his name known a bit more for the Rapids.
[ MORE: Spain may recall David Villa ]
Finally we’ve got the hottest team in the West, Seattle Sounders, duking it out with Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner FC Dallas.
The playoffs find Seattle as a minor favorite since FCD star Mauro Diaz went out for the year and Fabian Castillo skipped town for Turkey. But ruling out Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, and head coach Oscar Pareja is something you’d do at your own peril.
For Seattle, there’s new star Nicolas Lodeiro and striker Jordan Morris, the latter who is delivering at an unreal level (even for a rookie as hyped as the Stanford man).
All of these matches have the potential for special soccer. Bring on Sunday.
For all the glossing of Major League Soccer as a retirement league for European stars, David Villa’s performance in MLS may’ve rebirthed his international career.
Villa, 34, has 97 caps and 59 goals for Spain but has not played for La Furia Roja since scoring against Australia in his only appearance of World Cup 2014.
[ MLS: Conference semis schedule set ]
He retired after the tournament, but that doesn’t mean new coach Julen Lopetegui won’t be trying to call him back into the fold.
“The truth is that I saw him very well and playing with a lot of intensity,” Lopetegui told Onda Cero.
“Villa continues to play at a very good level and in the future we will see if he can return. We don’t close the door to any player and we always have consideration for players that can help the national team.”
He’s Spain’s all-time leading scorer by a 15-goal margin, and Villa’s prolific rate .6 goals per national team game is second only to Alfredo di Stefano amongst the nation’s Top Ten scorers.
Would he be interested? We like to think so, and Villa has been dominant for NYCFC in a potential MVP season. NYCFC faces Toronto FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.
Week 10 of the Premier League is here as we are a quarter of the way into the season. It’s still ridiculously tight across the league.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live ]
If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.
Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.
[ VIDEOS: Preview all 10 games ]
With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.
BASICALLY, FREE MONEY
Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Man United 3-0 Burnley – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]
DON’T TOUCH THIS…
West Brom 1-2 Man City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
Everton 2-2 West Ham – (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Tottenham 2-1 Leicester City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]
Stoke City 2-1 Swansea City – (Monday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Watford 3-2 Hull City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”
Middlesbrough 1-0 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
Southampton 1-1 Chelsea – (Sunday, 12 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]