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Liverpool close to signing Simon Mignolet – But is the Belgian the right choice?

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Liverpool believe they are poised to sign Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

After having their initial transfer offer of £ 6.5 million ($10.2m) rejected by the Black Cats, Liverpool look poised to make an improved bid for the 24 year old, perhaps as early as this week.

Part of the speculation arises due to club managing director, Ian Ayre, pulling out of a scheduled appearance at a conference on football economic opportunities in Rio de Janeiro this past weekend. Instead, Ayre opted to remain in Europe and pursue discussions with Sunderland.

While Mignolet has avoided commenting on the matter of a transfer, he has indicated a reluctance to sign a new deal at Wearside, giving Liverpool hope.

Sunderland, to their credit, see the writing on the wall. Instead of pulling a Dortmund and refusing to sell the wantaway player before his contract runs, the Black Cats are merely holding out for reasonable value, which they believe is £10 million ($15.7m).

Here are a few somewhat conflicting but ultimately complimentary thoughts about Liverpool and Mignolet —

First, if Liverpool are truly done with Pepe Reina and Mignolet is the man they want in net, then fine. Sign him. £10 million ($15.7m)? That’s a steal.

Do I believe there are more talented keepers for ‘the Pool to purchase? Absolutely. Within the Premier League, I rate both Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Swansea’s Michel Vorm above Mignolet.

Why? Both are better shot-stoppers which, for me, is the most important attribute in goalkeeping.

I also love Begovic because he’s an athletic behemoth (6’5″ with shoulders like a cargo plane) who sounds like he could be an Ivy League professor. Seriously. Ask the Bosnian international any question and he’ll not only respond thoughtfully, but in perfect, articulate English.

My love for Vorm is largely because I believe he has the fastest reactions of any keeper in the world. Simply enough, no one gets corner-to-corner quicker than Vorm.

But don’t take these as knocks on Mignolet – I rate him higher than Reina and believe he could be fantastic at Anfield. I admire the Belgian because he has ice in his veins under any situation and he single-handedly saved Sunderland from relegation this season, conceding an astounding 54 goals in 38 matches.

It’s for these reasons that Sunderland should demand at least £12 million ($18.8m) for Mignolet’s services, and not a dime less.

U.S. U-20 midfield star leaves FC Dallas for a role with Schalke

schalke04.de/en
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Another Yank youngster has landed in Germany.

Weston McKinnie, 18, has starred for the United States U-20 team as well as FC Dallas’ Academy, and has been in demand.

[ MORE: Americans Abroad news ]

The club is Schalke, a Bundesliga outfit which has had an exceptional offseason. McKinnie joins the U-19 side, and is billed by Schalke as a midfielder who “can be deployed as part of a two-man central midfield or in the number 10 role.”

From Schalkeo4.de/en:

“He’s a player who convinced us with his robustness and game awareness,” said academy director Oliver Ruhnert. “In the US he is one of the best footballers for his age. He is also a youth national team player and has also captained his team. He brings a lot of qualities with him, especially to the mental side of his game. We are therefore convinced that Weston is capable of becoming a professional footballer. The transfer therefore makes a lot of sense.”

McKinnie, if you haven’t read his name before, is absolutely one to remember. The Schalke man joins a club with a good track record for Americans. Chad Deering, Thomas Dooley, and David Wagner have also represented the United States for the Miners.

WATCH and LISTEN: Our Deadline Day show, and the 2 Robbies talk transfers

Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe, The 2 Robbies
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Deadline Day was kinda nuts, am I right?

There’s a lot to digest, and we’ve covered a lot of it in this space.

But in case you need more — and who doesn’t want a bit more Premier League? — we’ve got a stream of Wednesday’s TV show covering the deadline, and the 2 Robbies talking transfers.

LISTEN: The 2 Robbies Transfer Deadline Day podcast

REWATCH: Wednesday’s Deadline Day show

Now onto the business of the Premier League’s nascent season. Who was boosted by today’s moves? Who took a hit?

Report: USWNT legend Heather O’Reilly set to retire from soccer

BIRMINGHAM, AL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Heather O'Reilly #9 of the United States of America reacts after scoring a goal against Haiti during the US Women's 2015 World Cup victory tour match at Legion Field on September 20, 2015 in Birmingham, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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She has the seventh-most caps and the sixth-most assists in United States women’s national team history, and she’s also calling it a day.

Excelle Sports is reporting that Heather O’Reilly is retiring at the age of 31. The FC Kansas City player will likely play her final match in September, as the 2015 champs have all-but been eliminated from the playoffs.

[ MORE: Five big Deadline Day signings ]

O’Reilly had 230 caps, 46 goals, and 54 assists for the USWNT team. She’s one of only a few players to have more than 45 goals and 50 assists (Julie Foudy, Tiffeny Milbrett, Shannon MacMillan, Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly).

One of many successful products of Anson Dorrance’s UNC program, “HAO” spent her club career with New Jersey Wildcats, Sky Blue FC, and Boston Breakers before joining FCKC.

O’Reilly was left off the Olympic roster this summer, named as an alternate. She could’ve been useful — of course hindsight is 20/20 — and it’ll be odd watching more USWNT matches without HAO.

International roundup: Schweinsteiger, Keane say goodbye; Denmark bags five

Germany's national team throws their captain Bastian Schweinsteiger into the air after he played his last match for the national team in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Germany won the friendly soccer match against Finland with 2-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Two mainstays of the international game are done with that part of their career following shutout wins on Wednesday, just two of several friendlies early in this international break.

[ MORE: Five big Deadline Day signings ]

Germany 2-0 Finland

Max Meyer picked up from his remarkable Olympics by firing home, and Mesut Ozil also scored for the Germans in a match that was not about the winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger called it a day on his international career in the win, his 121st cap. The Manchester United man finishes his career with 24 goals, a World Cup title and a EURO runner-up finish. Not too shabby.

Ireland 4-0 Oman

ROI all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane fittingly ended his tenure as an international player with yet another goal, bringing his career tally to 68 goals in 146 caps. Stoke City’s Jon Walters scored twice for the Boys in Green, and Robbie Brady (Norwich) also netted in the win.

Denmark 5-0 Liechtenstein

It took the hosts a half-hour to break down the visitors, but a pair from Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen opened the floodgates and Andreas Cornelius, Viktor Fischer and Jens Stryger Larsen finished the scoring in a blowout at the CASA Arena in Horsens. It was Larsen’s first cap.

Elsewhere
Turkey 0-0 Russia
Albania 0-0 Morocco
Estonia 1-1 Malta
Norway 0-1 Belarus
Lebanon 1-1 Jordan