Arsene Wenger puts the kibosh on Alex Song’s return

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Arsenal are in need of a physically imposing holding midfielder.

Alex Song is in need of a club that appreciates his services.

Arsenal once loved Song.

Song once loved Arsenal.

Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, maybe. But it’s still not happening, says Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman put the rumors to bed on Thursday when he explained that there is no buy-back clause in Song’s contract. Wenger explained the situation after Song’s cousin – Rigobert Song, announced that the player was not enjoying life in Spain.

“This season he has only been a substitute,” Rigobert said. “He is not happy. At Arsenal he was a leader on and off the field – he doesn’t feel like this in Spain and it makes him feel bad.”

It probably didn’t make Alex feel much better to have his cousin blow up his spot, but hey, that’s what family is for, right? Problem was, not only did it prompt Wenger to put the kibosh on Song returning to Arsenal this season, but it convinced the manager to explain that Song actually needs to stay longer at Barcelona.

“I heard he wants to give it a go for another season, which you can understand because it’s the first season,” Wenger said. “I think he’s a quality player and sometimes the players have to insist when it doesn’t go well and not change his mind too soon.

“My personal advice for him would be to give it another go and after two seasons he can still make a decision.”

Wenger’s comments, while undoubtedly depressing to Song and his cousin, underline the respect the manager has for players owned by other clubs and his refusal to perpetuate transfer rumors. Ironically enough, it was the Frenchman who, for two years, had to deal with incessant rumors and comments out of Barcelona when the Blaugrana had its sights fixed on Cesc Fabregas.

The rumblings were never addressed or diffused by authority figures at Barcelona. Not that they had to be – the vast majority of football clubs do little to silence transfer rumors that could potentially disrupt a club. Point being, for all the grief Wenger gets as a manager there are few classier individuals in the game.

As for Arsenal’s holding midfield options, few rumors have been circulating although West Ham’s Mohamed Diame, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo are all players who would seemingly fit the bill.

Transfer rumor roundup: Matic to Manchester United; Barkley, Everton news

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Tottenham Hotspur’s depth means it can wait out Everton as the Toffees demand plenty of money for young star Ross Barkley.

The 23-year-old England international won’t sign a new deal with Everton, and Ronald Koeman has been clear that he’s ready to cash in on the wantaway midfielder.

[ MORE: Latest on Ronaldo ]

Spurs are interested according to Sky Sports, but rolling their eyes at a requested fee of close to $64 million. So the North Londoners will wait, a move that makes sense given Barkley’s up-and-down form.

The Liverpool Echo says that Koeman is close to making it official with Sandro Ramirez, as the ex-Barcelona prospect will join Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen as new Toffees in a $7 million deal.

The BBC says Koeman will quickly move onto two more transfers, aiming to woo Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea City and center back Michael Keane from Burnley.


The Manchester Evening News says Manchester United is close to reuniting Jose Mourinho with defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic.

The tough-minded Serbian turns 29 in August, and would give Mourinho flexibility with Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera. United also has Michael Carrick as a deep-lying option.

Matic has 121 Premier League appearances and two titles since returning to Chelsea in January 2014.


 

Germany mulls letting China under-20s play league soccer

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BERLIN (AP) The German soccer federation is mulling a proposal to allow China’s under-20 team to play friendly matches in the fourth tier of its league system.

Because the Southwest Regional League is comprised of 19 clubs, each currently has two match-days free that can be used for friendly games. The one-off action would allow China’s under-20 team to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

[ MORE: Juve confirms Alves release ]

“Nothing has been fixed yet but the clubs are all in favor,” league president Felix Wiedemann told The Associated Press on Thursday. “There’s a lot of interest in it. It’s important to say that there will be no points at stake, so it won’t influence the outcome of the league.”

Clubs would receive about 15,000 euros ($16,700) in compensation for two home games against the Chinese side, if the plan is approved. The Chinese are planning on a base near Heidelberg in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Southwest Regional League members are meeting on July 11, when a decision will likely be made in consultation with the German soccer federation, Wiedemann said. The league kicks off at the end of the month.

China and Germany agreed to a five-year soccer partnership last November, aimed at developing the game in China with training and other programs.

WATCH LIVE: Australia vs. Cameroon in Confederations Cup

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Australia and Cameroon fight for their Confederations Cup lives on Thursday at 11 a.m.ET live on Telemundo Deportes.

[ WATCH LIVE: Cameroon vs. Chile on Telemundo Deportes ]

Cameroon will have its top attacker in the form of Vincent Aboubakar in its bid to overcome an opening loss to Chile, while Australia will hope goalkeeper Maty Ryan can get the job done following a 3-2 loss to Germany.

Germany and Chile square off at 2 p.m. ET.

Reports: De Boer offered Crystal Palace manager’s spot

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Multiple reports claim Crystal Palace has offered its managerial position to Dutch boss Frank De Boer.

Palace has been without a manager since Sam Allardyce retired after the season. The Eagles finished 15th in the Premier League, five points behind eighth place Southampton and seven points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Latest on Ronaldo ]

An accomplished defender at Ajax and Barcelona, the 47-year-old De Boer led Ajax in his first managerial stint before spending less than three months at Inter Milan last season.

De Boer twice won the Rinus Michels Award as the top manager in Dutch football, and would become just the second Palace manager from outside the British Isles.

He would inherit a very good group of attackers with Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, and Andros Townsend. Palace also has a talented midfielders Luka Milivojevic and Yohan Cabaye to go with marauding Dutch back Patrick Van Aanholt.