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?

USMNT eyeing the table as it kicks off training camp

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) Goalkeeper Tim Howard‘s uniform was filled with grass stains after the first day of training camp.

And this was considered a light workout.

“Just getting everybody back together, getting a sweat,” Howard said Monday after the U.S. squad went through a roughly 60-minute workout. “Day by day, we’re just trying to add on to the pile, put some concepts in and get some understanding between players.”

What awaits the squad in resumption of the final round of World Cup qualifying is certainly a gantlet. They have a game against Trinidad and Tobago on June 8 in Commerce City and then at Mexico three days later.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

There’s little margin for error, with the U.S. currently in fourth place in the six-team standings. They have three home and three away matches remaining. The top three teams qualify, with the fourth-place squad going to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

“We need to keep climbing that table. We feel like this is a good opportunity to do it,” said Howard, now with the Colorado Rapids and who will feel right at home with the Trinidad game on his turf at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “One game, that’s as far as you can look. You can’t look to next week or the week after or two months from now.”

For now, Howard will be coach Bruce Arena’s goalkeeper over Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath and Nick Rimando, who all were invited to camp. But it’s an ongoing evaluation.

“We have good goalkeepers here. That’s the least of my worries, to be honest,” Arena said.

Given the short amount of time between games, Arena fully plans on using more players than usual. One particular competition to watch will be at right back between Timmy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin.

“I have a close eye on everything,” Arena said. “We have a bunch of good players here. … We’re watching everybody and thinking about how we can best utilize everyone.”

[ MORE: Kroenke, Wenger meet; Decision looms ]

The roster features a solid blend of youth and experience. Leading the youngsters is Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder who last weekend became the youngest American to win a club medal in Europe.

On the veteran side are players such as Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley and Howard, all of whom have more than 30 World Cup qualifying appearances.

“We’re past the experimentation phase. These are all guys who the manager believes in whole-heartedly,” Howard said. “They’re not here for anything other than to play minutes, play important minutes.”

Arena couldn’t agree more.

“This is a nice group we have here. Hopefully, we can find the right balance in the team, putting them in the right position to complement them both individually and collectively,” Arena said. “If we can accomplish that, there’s no reason to believe we can’t be successful in these two games.”

Joining the camp in Colorado are a few players who weren’t with the squad in March. Guzan, Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and Yedlin are all on the field. Guzan didn’t participate because his wife was expecting their second child, while the others were dealing with injuries, illnesses and yellow-card suspension.

Now, it’s a matter of getting their timing down – and accustomed to the altitude.

“There’s no reason to make it an excuse,” midfielder Paul Arriola said. “Just doing the best we can to acclimate to it.”

Arena’s squad will get things rolling in a friendly against Venezuela in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday.

“That’s a good game for us,” Arena said. “It gives us a little bit of exercise at lower altitude, which isn’t perfect for what we need to do to get ready here and Mexico City, but it’s a start. Think it will be good to give a chance to 16 players and build from there – get us ready for Trinidad and Mexico.”

Stam after Reading playoff final loss: “Tough to take”

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Jaap Stam has won silverware in three different leagues for five different teams, and has a Champions League title from his time at Manchester United.

He’s used to winning, and that includes his first stop as a full-time manager. And that makes Reading’s loss in Monday’s playoff final sting a bit more.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

Reading lost in penalty kicks and it’s not like the Royals were thoroughly outclassed by Huddersfield Town. But it still burns. From Sky Sports:

“You don’t want to play football to be in the grey areas, you want to get the max out of your career, win trophies and play at the highest level.

“It’s tough to take, but it has to be difficult. It’s not good to lose a game like this, you need to feel it and experience it and then take that forward if you get into the same moment again. The good players do that.”

Reading loses a trio of loan players — Lewis Grabban, Reece Oxford, and Jordon Mutch — as well as American midfielder Danny Williams. It won’t be easy for Reading to get back into the playoffs without an injection of money, but Stam’s first rodeo as a manager was a good ride that came up just short.

Wenger, Kroenke meet; Board to learn decision Tues.

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Wenger watch is entering its final hours.

The BBC is reporting that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke met with longtime manager Arsene Wenger on Monday to discuss the Frenchman’s future, and that the decision was going to be made together.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

It seems almost certain that Wenger is going to come back to the Emirates Stadium. From the BBC:

The outcome is unclear but the decision rests solely with Wenger and Kroenke and will be relayed to directors at a Tuesday board meeting.

Fresh terms were agreed in principle some months ago, but nothing is signed.

There have been questions about whether Wenger would accept a sporting director being placed above him, and if Kroenke believes the repercussions of keeping the boss would negatively impact the business.

Barcelona to keep goalkeeper Ter Stegen until 2022

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has reached a deal to extend the contract of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen until June 2022.

The club said the new agreement, which has a buyout clause of 180 million euros ($201 million), will be signed on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

Ter Stegen has been with the club since 2014, helping it win nine titles in three seasons.

The German goalkeeper has played 93 matches with Barcelona, conceding 90 goals in 71 wins, 10 draws and 12 losses.

Barcelona has already renewed the contracts of Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic. It is still working on new deals for Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.