Cristiano Ronaldo: “I miss English football”

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Here we go. Cristiano Ronaldo has opened up another can of worms.

The Real Madrid superstar was asked about a possible return to the English Premier League and the Portuguese captain gave the biggest indication yet, that an EPL return could be on the cards.

“I miss English football,” Ronaldo said. “For me, it was one of the best years in my career when I was there in Manchester United. Everyone knows that it is a club that is still in my heart and I really, really miss.”

Ronaldo’s comments come as speculation continues to circulate around his future. The 28-year-old attacker has spoken of his love for Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson in the past, this isn’t the first time. But can he be swayed to return under David Moyes?

After scoring 201 goals in 199 games for Madrid, Ronaldo may want a fresh challenge. Perhaps helping United to lift another European title would be a challenge worth leaving the Spanish capital for.

But, and this is a big but, Ronaldo also spoke about how he is now enjoying life in La Liga.

“But now my life is in Spain. I am enjoying playing there too. Part of my life is there, but in the future we never know. I am really, really happy in the Spanish league.”

That leaves a huge carrot dangling in the face of Manchester United’s directors, Moyes and United’s fans. It is not quite a come and get me plea… but it’s not far off.

(MORE: Ronaldo to “meet Manchester United” about return)

If Ronaldo was to return to United, it would take quite some doing. Huge trust would have to be placed in Moyes and massive financial backing would also be needed. Ronaldo has a price tag of around $100 million and astronomical wages of around $18 million per season. But if Rooney did leave Old Trafford, the clubs highest earner would be off the wage bill. That would help fund Ronaldo’s return, and everyone would be happy.

This saga should be over by now. It has been rumbling on for years and Ronaldo does nothing to abate it. These latest comments may be blown out of proportion by some, but why would Ronaldo even mention that he “misses English football” if there was no ulterior motive? He knew what kind of headlines would spring up after those comments.

With new manager Carlo Ancelotti wanting to build a team of his own at Real, selling Ronaldo would put plenty of pennies in Madrid’s transfer coffers. Swapping Ronaldo for Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and still making a slight profit on the transfer fee could be something that appeals to Real. That would be smart business indeed.

So, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo to United’… this saga will rumble on all summer long. Hopefully it comes to an end sooner or later. If not, get use to seeing the Portuguese star and his lovely tan adorn websites and back pages for months to come.

Beautiful.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.