Oh, how the mighty fall.
According to the father of Queens Park Rangers midfielder Ji-Sung Park, the 32 year old is poised to retire from football at the end of next season. Sung-jong Park said: “Nobody knows the future; maybe he could play one more year with a new team after next season. But I think [Ji-Sung] has made his mind up to retire. He thinks he’s played enough.
“He’s never had times like this with PSV Eindhoven or Manchester United. My son has had difficult times at QPR this season; it was a new experience to him. Ji-sung said it’s difficult to keep his feel for the game as his playing time is inconsistent, but he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”
To say the South Korean has struggled since signing from Manchester United in a £2m deal last summer would be an understatement. Last year at Old Trafford he scored four goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. This season he’s stepped on the pitch 22 times for QPR but has yet to register a single goal. Perhaps even more shocking than the numbers is Park’s uninspiring performances for a club devoid of midfield quality.
Once a work-horse of the highest order, Park earned the moniker “Three Lung Park” from the Old Trafford faithful for his ridiculous displays of energy and stamina at United. The midfielder’s tenacity prompted Ferguson to once famously admit that it was not Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney who gave him the most selection headaches, but rather Park.
Under the United boss’ tenure, Park made a name for himself as a big-time Champions League player. Notable performances included a man-of-the-match performance in the second leg win over Barcelona in 2008, an awe-inspiring man marking shutdown of Andrea Pirlo during the quarter finals in 2010, and a brilliant goal against Chelsea to knock the Blues out of the 2011 quarter finals.
Park will reportedly see out his two-year contract at Loftus Road, although it’s hard to foresee him regaining the fitness that made him a cult hero at Old Trafford. If QPR are relegated – and at the bottom of the barrel with 8 matches to go that looks like it will be the case – it will be sad to see Park forced to finish his career in the Championship.
What are your thoughts on Park’s retirement? Do you see him regaining the form he had at United? Is Harry Redknapp to blame for Park’s decline?
Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.
[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]
With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.
[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.
If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.
[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]
14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.
That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.
Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.
[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]
Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:
“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”
The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.
The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).
The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.
[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]
Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.
Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.
Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.
As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.
Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?
The game in 100 words (or less): Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.
Three moments that mattered
6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.
36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.
38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.
Man of the Match: Piatti.