Manchester United could be lining up a bid to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Premier League.
According to the Evening Standard, United are looking to sign Fabregas as evidence of the intent to continue their winning ways despite the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. If signed, Fabregas would become David Moyes’ first acquisition as manager of United. The club has reportedly made contact with Barcelona concerning Fabregas and the Blaugrana are rumored to be asking for a transfer fee of $30.7m (£20m) for the Spain international.
Since returning to his boyhood club, Fabregas has struggled to make an impact and has come under significant media and fan criticism for his performances. While Fabregas has featured in the central midfield throughout the campaign, he has consistently been left out of the Starting XI for Barcelona’s biggest matches. Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta remain the midfield pairing of choice, with Lionel Messi operating in front of the Spanish duo.
The reports concerning Fabregas come at the heals of Barcelona’s humiliating 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final. Bowing out in that fashion has prompted the club to consider a fire-sale of underperforming players, which includes Alexis Sanchez and David Villa.
Fortunately for Cesc, United is in serious need of a central midfielder who can inspire. Darren Fletcher remains sidelined with a serious illness, Paul Scholes is retiring at the end of the season, Anderson is set to be transferred and Tom Cleverley’s inconsistent play and injury struggles make him a huge question mark going forward. That leaves Phil Jones and Michael Carrick as holding midfielders and an aging Ryan Giggs, a promising Shinji Kagawa and a green Nick Powell as potential playmakers.
What could make it the perfect role for Fabregas, however, is that he would be re-united with Robin van Persie. The two spent seven seasons together at Arsenal where Fabregas developed into a dominant set up man while van Persie established himself as one of the most lethal finishers.
If Moyes decides to move for Fabregas that could spell doom for Wayne Rooney, who typically plays inside of the van Persie. Rooney has asked for a transfer and is rumored to be on the wish list of Paris St. Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
With a raucous Anfield behind them for the second leg, Liverpool shouldn’t be too frustrated despite the dramatics of its stoppage time loss at Villarreal.
That’s a big part of Jurgen Klopp‘s logic following the 1-0 first leg loss in the UEFA Europa League semifinal, one that came when Adrian scored in the final minute of stoppage time.
[ MORE: Match recap | Why Klopp kept Sturridge on bench ]
Klopp seemed, rightly, more concerned with where Alberto Moreno was on the goal.
From the BBC:
“Of course I’m not too happy with the goal we conceded in the last second. Counter-attacking in the 92nd minute makes not much sense – but it is only the first leg.
“It is 1-0 and they have to come to Anfield where we know how strong we are. We had our moments, we defended really good. This race is not over.
“If we had enough players around the box it was no problem but they played this one chip ball over Kolo [Toure], I don’t know where Alberto [Moreno] was in this moment but that was the only big mistake we made in this game and they scored with it.”
Liverpool had the best odds to win the tournament heading into the first leg, but now needs a multi-goal or shutout win to beat a tricky Villarreal, which enjoys a nice counter attack (They could, of course, also win with a 1-0 win and penalty kicks, but you know what we mean here).
Many were wondering why Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp decided not to use striker Daniel Sturridge in Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Villarreal in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Europa League semifinal.
Klopp says the decision was completely tactical, and laid it at the feet of Sturridge not having experience in Thursday’s desired formation.
[ MORE: Watch full Premier League match replays ]
These comments were from before the match. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts after the loss.
“It was a very difficult decision to be honest. I thought about a lot of things and at the end I decided for a little more stability.
In a 4-3-3 we didn’t play with Daniel until now. For today, this 4-3-3, 4-5-1, this very flexible style it makes sense that the player played together before.”
Even well-regarded managers make mistakes, and Liverpool was very much missing a striker’s touch on Thursday (Roberto Firmino did hit the post, and looked somewhat dangerous).
The “FIFA Slayer” is in the building. Rog sits down with Loretta Lynch, the 83rd attorney general of the United States, for an interesting conversation in the latest MiB pod.
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Vitolo scored a goal then drew a penalty, and Kevin Gameiro converted the chance as Sevilla picked up a pair of road goals in a 2-2 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday in the first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Europa League semifinal.
Marlos had a goal and an assist for Shakhtar Donetsk, with Taras Stepanenko scoring Shakhtar’s other goal.
Sevilla has won the last two tournaments, and hosts Thursday’s second leg with an advantage toward reaching a third.
[ MORE: Watch full Premier League match replays ]
Gameiro set up that oh-so-pivotal road goal in the first 6 minutes, sliding the ball to Vitolo for his left-footed finish between the legs of Andriy Pyatov.
But the Ukranians weren’t slow to respond, and Shakhtar netted twice before halftime. First Marlos scored a left-footed of his own from Yaroslav Rakitskiy in the 21st minute, and then Marlos turned provider for Stepanenko’s headed finish in the 35th.
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]