Paul Scholes will join Sir Alex Ferguson in bidding farewell to Old Trafford today as the former England international confirmed that he will retire at the end of the season.
It’s the second time Scholes will retire from football after initially calling it quits in 2011 to take up a position on United’s coaching staff. With United’s midfield, he returned to the squad in January 2012 after admitting he had missed playing.
His return proved quite fruitful as the midfielder made 17 appearances in six months, scoring four goals. This year, however, nagging injuries have hampered Scholes, reducing him to 14 appearances across the entire season, scoring once. The 38 year old confirmed that this time, his retirement is a final decision.
“Yes I am finally hanging up my boots for good,” Scholes said. “Playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United, under the greatest manager of all time, has been an honor.”
The midfielder will make his 498th Premier League appearance for United against Swansea on Sunday. The match is guaranteed to be an emotional roller coaster as the Red Devil’s will be presented with the league trophy (Scholes’ 11th overall), Ferguson will be carried off the field in celebration of his retirement, and Scholes will wave goodbye to the fans who consider him to be one of the best midfielders the Premier League has ever seen.
With Scholes retiring, Darren Fletcher continuing to struggle with illness, Anderson facing a summer transfer, Nick Powell still developing and Michael Carrick nearing the twilight of his career, this summer promises to be one that sees United sign at least one central midfielder.
The recent hiring of David Moyes has prompted many to believe that Marouane Fellaini is a prime candidate to join his boss at United. Other rumors suggest the Glazer family may be intent on bringing in 27 year old Juventus star Claudio Marchisio, 22 year old holding Dortmund maestro Ilkay Gundogan or 21 year old Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday