Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 6

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ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 6 in Major League Soccer includes the man who sprang huge goal for Chivas USA.

Goalkeeper:

  • Vancouver Whitecaps’ Joe Cannon

Why we like him: We told you yesterday how a couple of the late “saves” in mad scramble to hold a point against San Jose may not have actually been his saves. It was so hard to tell. Either way, the Whitecaps’ veteran in goal did enough to earn the honor, making five saves while beaten only once (and that by Chris Wondolowski’s unstoppable screamer.)

Back line:

  • Portland Timbers’ Mikael Silvestre
  • Philadelphia Union’s Amobi Okugo (pictured)
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler

Why we like them: While we keep looking at Sporting Kansas City’s midfield and studying the proper mix between guys like Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Claudio Bieler and others, the defense just keeps steadily throwing up those shutouts. No one is more responsible that Besler, who had another excellent night in a 1-0 shutout over visiting D.C. United. That four clean sheets in a row for SKC.

Lots of good performances all around for Portland (read on, further down along this list), including a couple of men along the Timbers back line. Silvestre was sure-footed on the slick Jeld-Wen turf, helping to prevent Houston Dynamo danger despite an early change with his central partner due to David Horst’s first-half injury.

Midfield:

  • Colorado Rapids’ Hendry Thomas
  • FC Dallas’ Andrew Jacobson
  • Portland Timber’s Diego Chara
  • Chicago Fire’s Daniel Paladini

Why we like them: The lesser known central and holding mids dominate this week’s list. Hendry was a ball-winning, midfield disrupting machine in Colorado’s huge win over rival Real Salt Lake. (And all those young RSL midfielders cannot be easy to keep up with!)

Jacobson continues to be an underrated element in FC Dallas’ fast start (including the Texans’ 2-2 draw in Toronto). Chara was just this side of flawless on both sides of the ball in his team’s commanding 2-0 win over Houston. And Paladini played a big role as Chicago unleashed itself from the ranks of the winless with a late (but oh-so-important) win over New York.

(MORE: Chara is ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Player of the Week)

Forwards:

  • Chicago Fire’s Maicon Santos
  • Portland Timbers’ Ryan Johnson
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler

Why we like them: Two Santos in Chicago’s win, and off the bench no less! If he can find just a little more consistency, the starting striker job is certainly up for grabs around Toyota Park. Johnson hit two in the Rose City to help clear the runway for a big win landing at Jeld-Wen. And Bieler nailed the late game-winner as SKC took all the points in a Friday night win over D.C. United.  

Brighton nabs club record signing Jurgen Locadia

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Brighton & Hove Albion have secured a new striker for the stretch run of the Premier League season, signing Jurgen Locadia from PSV Eindhoven for a club record fee.

Locadia cost Brighton $19.3 million, breaking their old transfer record, set just last August when they brought Jose Izqueirdo from Club Brugge, by about $500,000.

The 24-year-old Dutchman has nine goals and six assists this season in 15 Eredivisie appearances for PSV, although he’s missed their last three games reportedly with a hamstring injury. He scored four goals in one game against FC Utretcht back in late September.

“We are delighted to have signed Jurgen, and pleased to welcome him to the club,” said Brighton manager Chris Hughton in the official club release. “He is a player we have been aware of for sometime, and it’s been no secret we have wanted to add a striker of his type. He is a strong, powerful and quick center-forward, with a real eye for goal and will increase our attacking options in the second half of the season.”

Locadia made his Eredivisie debut with PSV in style back in 2012, scoring a hat-trick against VVV Venlo in a 6-0 win. He would go on to score a career-high 13 goals in his first full season in 2013/14, eventually racking up 62 goals for PSV across all competitions in 176 appearances.

A PSV youth product, Locadia has been in the national team picture, riding the bench for a pair of World Cup qualifiers in October, but has not received a cap for the Netherlands. He was in the national youth setup as well, making appearances for the U-17 and U-21 sides.

Jupp Heynckes calls Aubameyang, Dembele behavior “unacceptable”

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Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes has labeled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s and Ousmane Dembele’s behavior at rival club Borussia Dortmund “unacceptable” and suggested such players would not be signed by Bayern Munich.

“It’s unacceptable how certain players act in professional football,” Heynckes said speaking to the media ahead of Bayern’s on Sunday against Werder Bremen. “It’s just not right. These situations have always happened, but now they have reached a whole new dimension.”

Aubameyang has not yet left Borussia Dortmund, but reports all over Europe suggest he is pressing the club to leave, with Arsenal linked, as well as a move to China. The Gabonese international has been suspended by the club for missing meetings and training, and reports say he has handed in a transfer request.

Dembele left for Barcelona back in the summer, and was similarly suspended for missing training in hopes of forcing a move. The 20-year-old later admitted that he intentionally missed training with the intent of pushing the club to sell him.

“The Dembele and Aubameyang situations have to be viewed in a critical light,” Heynckes added, also hitting out at former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who the Reds insist they did everything in their power to convince him to stay before he ultimately left for Barcelona. “I am very critical of this because players are very privileged. The Coutinho transfer was similar but solved more elegantly.”

The 72-year-old, in his fourth stint as Bayern Munich manager, said he would not sign these players if up to him, and suggested that Bayern Munich has a higher standard.

“Ethics and morals form part of our job and we have to look at the bigger picture and what’s happening in society. You have to consider how difficult it is for others to earn their monthly income. Clubs signing these players have to expect that this behavior will continue at their club. I don’t want to speak of solidarity, but it’s a team sport where you cannot afford to set your own individual targets. Clubs should think twice about signing these players. Honestly, I would reject it.”

Heynckes said that clubs shouldn’t take a hard stance with a player, instead hoping to placate them with a softer touch.

“Banishing the player to the stands is not the way,” Heynckes said. “You have to work at it, communicate and care for the player. You need a clear direction and I think we have that at Bayern Munich.”

Van Persie moves back to hometown club Feyenoord

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Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie has signed with his boyhood club Feyenoord after being released from his contract at Fenerbahce, the Dutch club confirmed.

The 34-year-old has only made two league appearances this season due to a knee injury, and since returning to full health in early December, he has been left out of the squad. Van Persie’s switch is a free transfer after his Turkish club allowed him to terminate his contract. It was reported back in November that the Dutchman was no longer wanted at Fenerbahce and that they would let him rot on the bench if he did not find a way out himself.

[ MORE: Friday Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

“Nothing stands in the way of a return of the 102-cap international to De Kuip,” Feyenoord wrote in an official statement, “now that he has come to an agreement with his current club Fenerbahce about the dissolution of his contract. The club and the player have reached an agreement regarding personal terms and related details for the move.”

A Rotterdam native, van Persie began his career in Feyenoord’s youth academy and made his first club appearance off the bench in a February, 2001 Eredivisie match against Roda JC. His first professional start, a KNVB-Bekker match against AGOVV Apeldoorn, saw him score an incredible five goals in a 6-1 win. Van Persie would go on to score 21 goals in 76 matches across all competitions for the club before moving to Arsenal in the summer of 2004, where he would spend the next eight seasons, arriving just after the Invincibles season and leaving in 2012 after 131 goals for the Gunners.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Chelsea still pursuing Roma duo, and more

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Chelsea is looking to make a big transfer splash as it searches for potential replacements for Michy Batshuayi and David Luiz.

According to multiple reports, Chelsea is attempting a double signing from AS Roma, forward Edin Dzeko and midfielder Emerson Palmieri. The Brazilian left-back is rated by Roma at $30.5 million but he could join Chelsea on loan. However the interest in Dzeko is much newer, and it’s unclear whether Roma would allow Dzeko to leave, especially in the middle of the season.

[READ: MLS SuperDraft 2018 Live Tracker]

With Roma preparing to face Inter Milan this weekend, talks between the two clubs have been put on hold until next week.

Dzeko’s agent confirmed that Conte is interested in the Bosnia and Herzegovina international but stated Dzeko’s desire is to remain at Roma.

After failing to beat out Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup for Manchester City, it would be interesting to see Dzeko give the Premier League another go, although he’d likely play second-fiddle again, this time to Alvaro Morata.

Here are some more transfer rumors from around Europe and the Premier League:

(more…)