Barcelona say Fabregas doesn’t want Manchester United move

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This Cesc Fabregas saga has taken another dramatic twist this morning.

Barcelona’s manager Tito Vilanova has said that Fabregas wants to remain at the Nou Camp and snub any potential transfer to Manchester United.

Essentially it’s another huge slap in the face for Red Devils boss David Moyes.

Speaking this morning, Vilanova addressed United’s bid for the Spanish international. “I know he has received offers from other teams,” said Vilanova. “But Cesc has told me he wants to stay here. He has told me it is his dream to stay with Barcelona.”

So that’s the end of that then… But are United really the big losers (Exhibit A, top right photo) in this one?

But why should Fabregas turn down a starring role at some of Europe’s top teams when he’s struggling to hold down a leading role at Barca? Because he loves the club.

Vilanova continued: “He doesn’t want to go to other teams for money reasons or playing time. He knows there is competition for places here, but his decision is to stay. I am relaxed about the situation.”

Fabregas could conceivably pick any club in Europe to play for. And probably captain them and be the leading star. Just like he was at Arsenal for many years and then he outgrew the North London club.

(MORE: Manchester United make $53 million bid for Cesc Fabregas)

But was this what he really wanted when he returned to his hometown of Barcelona? Should he be content with being used out of position and forced to watch on patiently as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets clog up his midfield role?

If he just wants to play for the club he loves no matter what, you have to admire that. But a question of Fabregas’ ambition, drive and desire pops into my mind.

Doesn’t he want to be the star of the show and lead a European giant to titles? Because he can. Obviously he has already won plenty of trophies since switching the Emirates for Catalan back in 2011. But at Manchester United he would be a key cog in Moyes’ plans for the future.

To put it bluntly Tom Cleverley and Anderson aren’t quite up to the standard of midfielder you’d expect from United. And with the likes of Darren Fletcher’s long-term injury and Ryan Giggs continuing to drift to the peripheral, a key box-to-box midfielder is something Moyes strives to bring in. They tried and failed with Barca’s young star Thiago Alcantara. And now it looks like they’ve had a similar experience trying to pry Fabregas away from Blaugrana.

(MORE: Thiago Alcantara will join Bayern Munich, shun Manchester United)

But if the 26-year-old diminutive midfield genius doesn’t fancy a move to Old Trafford, plenty of other clubs are interested. After United’s bid of $53 million was made public yesterday, the ears of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all pricked up.

If Fabregas fancies a change, the EPL’s finest are waiting to court him. But if United can’t entice him to leave Barca, what chance have the others got?

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”

Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup

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Manchester City’s quest for the historic quadruple is over after Pep Guardiola‘s 10-man side was shocked by League One side Wigan Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the DW Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Will Grigg scored the game’s only goal, a late winner after the home side had been thoroughly outplayed and out-possessed for 78 minutes. With 45 places currently standing between them in the English football pyramid — and Man City garnering “best of all time” consideration — “upset” doesn’t even begin to describe Monday’s result.

On the other hand, City represent the third Premier League side knocked out of this season’s FA Cup at the hands of Wigan: Bournemouth, in the third round; followed by West Ham United, in the fourth.

City were reduced to 10 men during first-half stoppage time, when Fabian Delph went flying in on Max Power as the two contested a 50-50 ball inside Wigan’s defensive third. Referee Anthony Taylor initially withdrew his yellow card from his pocket, but protests from the aggrieved party appeared to change Taylor’s mind, and Delph was off.

Prior to Deplh’s dismissal, Wigan had done well  enoughto hold their own against the runaway PL leaders. The Latics had a pair of half-chances, most notably through Grigg in the 12th minute, that could have easily gone their way. Much of the play, though, as is to be expected, was controlled by City (first-half possession: 82 percent), though Guardiola’s men were unable to break through before going a man down.

Still, the share of possession remain unchanged throughout the entirety of the second half, as City patiently probed and used possession as their best means of defense… until the 79th minute arrived.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

The ball was played back to Kyle Walker, into space; rather than receiving the ball at first opportunity, Walker let it run on as he prepared to play it back to Claudio Bravo; Grigg saw his opening and pounced quickly; his first touch used his body to shield Walker from the ball, and his second set up the shot; Grigg went for the far post, curling the ball around Bravo and nestling it just inside the post.

Wigan will now host another PL side, Southampton, in the quarterfinals.

Barry Bennell jailed 30 years for abusing young players

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) A former English youth soccer coach was jailed Monday for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers after the judge called him the “devil incarnate.”

Barry Bennell, a former coach at Crewe and scout for Manchester City, was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991.

“Your behavior towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Judge Clement Goldstone told the 64-year-old Bennell.

Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.

Goldstone said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God.

“In reality, you were the devil incarnate,” the judge added. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.

Bennell has already served three jail terms, totaling 15 years, for similar offenses involving 16 other victims in England and the United States.

LIVE, FA Cup: Wigan host Manchester City

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All conquering Manchester City head to third-tier Wigan Athletic on Monday (Kick off, 2:55 p.m. ET) to keep their quest of a legendary quadruple alive.

[ LIVE: Follow Wigan v Man City here

Pep Guardiola‘s men are 16 points clear atop the Premier League summit, while they are virtually through to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and are in the League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.

Can anyone stop them?

Wigan stand in their way with the Latics promotion favorites from the third tier who have already beaten Premier League teams Bournemouth and West Ham United to reach the last 16.

The winner will host Southampton in the quarterfinal for a place in the semifinal at Wembley Stadium, and City’s fan will be feeling a little nervous heading into this game.

Why? They played Wigan in the FA Cup final in 2013 and lost 1-0 after a last-gasp header from Ben Watson sealed one of the greatest upsets of all time to hand the Latics their first-ever major trophy. Wigan also beat City in the FA Cup quarterfinals in 2015, the last time they met in this competition.

Surely Guardiola’s boys won’t be on the end of another upset this time, especially with this starting lineup…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have analysis and reaction from the final FA Cup fifth round clash right here at Pro Soccer Talk.