AZ Alkmaar to sell 2nd-leading goalscorer – what does this mean for Jozy Altidore?

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Jozy Altidore’s current club, AZ Alkmaar of the Dutch Eredivisie, are reportedly close to a deal that would send attacking midfielder Adam Maher to fellow Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven.

The two clubs are inching towards agreeing on a transfer fee as AZ submitted a counter-offer to PSV, confirmed AZ technical director Earnest Stewart, in addition to giving Eindhoven permission to begin discussions with the player. The talks could see Maher leave AZ after scoring seven goals in the league and assisting in five others.

The two youngsters paired wonderfully last season, a year which saw Altidore net 23 league goals and 31 in all competitions.

In Eredivisie league play, of Maher’s five assists, three were on Altidore goals, and two of Maher’s seven scores came on feeds from Jozy.  Three of Maher’s five assists in the Dutch Cup went to Alditore.

At just 19 years old, the Dutch U-21 international has a bright future if this past season has anything to say about it.

But what we’re more concerned with is how this affects the U.S. international. AZ were able to capture the Dutch Cup, the KNVB Beker, thanks to eight goals in six matches from Altidore, plus three goals and five assists from his young partner.

However, despite the 23 league goals from Altidore last year, AZ finished just 10th, a sheer disappointment after finding themselves top-5 in the previous four seasons including a league title in 2008/2009.

AZ have higher aspirations than 10th, and with the sale of their young creative force it could mean they shut down the sale side of their transfer dealings.  Altidore has been linked with a step up in European soccer after his successful season, with clubs in the Bundesliga and Premier League said to be interested.

If Maher heads out first, AZ may not be inclined to sell both their leading goalscorers from the previous season.  Altidore sits on a 4-1/2 year deal that doesn’t end until June of 2015, so there is no requirement for the Dutch club to capitulate.

If AZ do wish to cash in, however, now would be the right time for them to do so given Jozy’s goalscoring record from last season.  Just today news broke that Sunderland are “interested” in Altidore – whatever that means – and he apparently is one of the top targets for Paolo Di Canio this summer.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.