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Manchester United line up massive bid for Robert Lewandowski

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You had to know this was coming.

One day after his incredible four goal performance against Real Madrid, Robert Lewandowski is rumored to be the target of a $46.4m (£30m) bid by Manchester United. It’s been a rumor that has gone hot and cold throughout the last year but after Lewandowski’s scintillating display last night, it’s now come to a boil.

Dortmund, however, are desperate to keep their star striker and claim they aren’t rushed to sell Lewandowski even though he has just 12 months remaining on his contract. United face competition for the Polish international from Bayern Munich, who recently triggered the $49.5 (£32m) release clause of Dortmund playmaker, Mario Gotze. Fortunately for the Black & Yellows, there is nothing to indicate that Lewandowski’s contract contains a similar provision.

Dortmund are expected to ramp up their efforts to re-sign their 33 goal hitman despite the reports that Lewandowski has turned down multiple offers and wants to leave for a bigger club. BVB will do everything they can to ensure that if they are unable to re-sign the striker that he does not end up in Bavaria. Relations between the two clubs are at an all-time low after Dortmund were furious with Bayern’s decision to announce the Gotze coup on the morning of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

The strain in relations between Dortmund and Munich will be a huge boost to United’s chances of signing Lewandowski. It is widely believed that it will take more than $46.4m (£30m) for Dortmund to part with the striker although BVB general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has made the outlandish statement that his club may even keep Lewandowski for the next 12 months, even if it means the player eventually departs on a free transfer.

Surely, Sir Alex Ferguson can convince him otherwise.

If United are to sign the Polish phenom, a swap deal could be in the cards. The Red Devils have previously suggested bringing Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao into the fold for cash and a swap of Javier Hernandez, who United claims to be valued at $31m (£20m), which seems a bit rich. Don’t be surprised if a similar offer is proposed to Dortmund.

One thing United won’t be doing is buying both Falcao and Lewandowski. Not only do they occupy the same role on the pitch but the cost required to purchase the two would be astronomical. Plus, United already have one of the best strikers in the world in Robin van Persie. Which raises the question – what would happen to the Dutchman if United purchased another high-line striker?

Surely, RVP won’t be sold. But we could see a situation where Ferguson begins to limit the number of appearances the Dutch striker makes in order to prolong his career. Van Persie turns 30 years old this summer and given his injury ravaged past and the number of competitions United participate in on a yearly basis, such a rotation might not be a terrible idea.

A move for Lewandowski would also raise questions as to what to do with Wayne Rooney. United could effectively finance a deal for Lewandowski if it were to sell Rooney to Paris Saint-Germain but whether Ferguson is truly ready to part with the Englishman remains to be seen.

But don’t be so sure United is the only English squad ready to make a play for Lewandowski. Manchester City are widely rumored to be looking to bring in a world-class striker and the Pole could be just the man for the job. What’s more, City are looking to unload Edin Dzeko and have entertained the idea of a swap plus cash deal.

The question then becomes: If you’re Dortmund, who would you prefer to swap for Lewandowski – Chicharito or Dzeko?

 

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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