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Thiago Silva’s Barcelona fixation remains a problem for PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain’s ascendance to true, top-flight European destination is complete, with their combination of wages, location, and level-of-competition making the Parc de Princes one of the world’s top 10 destinations. Yet even among that elite group, there’s an elite tier. Manchester United found that out when they lost Cristiano Ronaldo. Arsenal found it out when they lost Cesc Fabregas.

Now PSG is fighting to keep one of their best players from the draw of Spain’s big two. Thiago Silva, who only arrived in France last summer, seems ready to move to Barcelona, if this morning’s reports are to be believed. And if they’re not to be believed, there’ll be another report next week. Silva to Barcelona is something that won’t go away until Silva’s in Barcelona.

The Brazilian international, who rose to prominence after his transfer from Fluminense to AC Milan, apparently wanted to move to Cataluyna last year yet elected to try France because of his relationship with PSG president Leonardo, who had worked with the Brazilian in Italy. But with that tribute paid, Silva’s ready to move on, something PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi is dead set on preventing.

It’s a tough situation for the Parisians, if Silva truly wants to go. You never want a disgruntled player in your squad, and when somebody expresses a wish to move elsewhere, it’s usually best to consider a solution, especially when the player can garner a huge fee.

But PSG is still an ascending giant, one that will acquire more Silvas and Zlatan Ibrahimovics before they make a push for Champions League. If those elites talents can’t be convinced to use Paris as more than a weight station en route to other things, PSG will never make progress. They’ll tread water at their current level, one they could transcended if they could combine their prodigious talent with some longer-term continuity.

That’s the general theory. The specifics may be different. Silva’s may be an isolated case, one that may not portend the departure of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In addition, with Mamadou Sakho in the squad, PSG has a third starting-caliber center back, one who made more Ligue 1 starts last season than either Silva or Alex. If Barcelona’s willing to make the Silva sale a profitable one — one that far eclipses the $53 million PSG gave Milan for Silva last summer — the Parisians could argue a transfer is in the best interests of the club.

Silva, a late bloomer, will turn 29 in September. His value may never be higher.

All of that seems like post hoc rationale, however. Not to discredit the value of those kinds of evaluations, but PSG didn’t enter the summer intending to sell Silva. They still don’t to sell him, so if Silva ends up at Barcelona, on some level, no matter how much money they make, the move will seem feel like a capitulation.

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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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.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

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.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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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.

Man United captain Rooney raises $1.5m from charity game

FILE - A Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 file photo of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney leaving the field after the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) for charity from a friendly game against former club Everton last year. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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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.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

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.

WATCH: Lewandowski’s juggling stoppage time winner

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the German soccer Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and FC Bayern Munich in Freiburg, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP)
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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