Wayne Rooney of Manchester United blocks a clearance by Gary Cahill of Chelsea

Manchester United reject Chelsea’s bid for Wayne Rooney

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Just hours after Wayne Rooney was said to be “angry and confused” by Manchester United’s stance on his future, Premier League rivals Chelsea have launched their bid to bring Rooney to Stamford Bridge.

This never-ending soap opera just took another twist.

However United instantly rejected Chelsea’s offer for the 27-year-old England international, and the circus surrounding Rooney’s future continues.

According to reports in England, Chelsea offered either David Luiz or Juan Mata plus $15 million to land United’s wantaway striker. But Chelsea have confirmed that a straight cash bid was made for Rooney. Does that seem fair for a player who clearly wants to leave?

I think so.

After returning to England following a hamstring injury while on United’s preseason tour of Thailand, Rooney is cut away from the squad and manager David Moyes.

Over the weekend Moyes spoke in a press conference about Rooney’s situation, for the umpteenth time, and stated that “overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we’ll need him.”

How could Rooney not be “angry and confused” by that?

A striker of his caliber and goalscoring expertise is nobody’s backup. This may have been the final nail in the coffin. The sooner Rooney leaves the better.

(MORE: Wayne Rooney “may want a fresh challenge” away from Manchester United)

But with reports of Manchester United wanting a quite ridiculous transfer fee of $115 million… that won’t be happening unless they back down. United should cut their losses and let Rooney leave, they have clearly stated that RVP is their main man throughout last season and now with Moyes’ comments during the preseason tour. Rooney isn’t willing to play second fiddle to another striker at United. So he wants out. It’s understandable.

Would he have to do that at Chelsea? New manager José Mourinho has been coy yet respectful when asked about Rooney and has stated he is a player “he really likes.” With Fernando Torres blowing hot and cold and other strikers Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku dividing opinion at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea could use another striker to bolster their attack. Rooney could also flourish in the No.10 role in behind the main striker and dictate the tempo of the game with his exquisite range of passing.

(MORE: Is Rooney only ‘vital’ in Robin van Persie’s absence?)

Chelsea are probably thinking: ‘why not try and grab one of England’s greatest ever attackers in his prime?’

But back to his present club, since Rooney joined United nine years ago his record is quite stunning and he’s been a figurehead for the playing staff ever since he arrived as a wide-eyed teenager.

Rooney has scored 197 goals in 400 games, just under a goal every other game, and he’s scored at least 15 goals a season since joining United in the 2004-05 campaign.

The ex-Everton striker scored 34 goals in 44 games in both the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons and despite RVP’s marauding goalscoring exploits last season, Manchester United’s staff and fans shouldn’t be quick to forget Rooney’s contribution over the last decade. Rooney has helped them win multiple EPL titles and a UEFA Champions League crown.

But every storybook career has new chapters, and it seems as though Rooney is entering the final page of his Manchester United career.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET