Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Bernard to Arsenal, Nani to Monaco

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Arsenal are close to signing Brazilian star Bernard for $30 million, as the 20-year-old winger is reportedly having a medical in London on Friday. The Atletico Mineiro attacker is one of Brazil’s brightest young talents and following some brief yet promising appearances at the Confederations Cup earlier this summer, Bernard’s attacking nature would fit in well at the Emirates. A diminutive winger who can also play through the middle, Bernard has great close control and loves to pass the ball. Think of a slightly more attack minded Cesc Fabregas and you’ve hit the nail on the head. At the age of 17 he was playing regularly in Brazil and has improved every season. Could we soon see the tiny Brazilian magician work wonders for Arsene Wenger?

Nani is apparently in talks with AS Monaco over a $15 million move to the Ligue 1 new boys. The Portuguese winger has fallen way down the pecking order at Old Trafford and Nani is keen to play regularly before the 2014 World Cup. At 26 he’s coming into the prime of his career, but the winger has failed to live up to expectations at United. Dubbed as the “new Cristiano Ronaldo” when he arrived from Sporting Lisbon in 2007, Nani has shown his brilliance in brief flashes. But with Wilfried Zaha and others preferred by David Moyes, now is the right time to leave. Nani’s pace and direct style will suit French soccer and if he does leave, United’s fans will be left wondering what could’ve been.

Tottenham Hotspur could look to bolster their attack further, as they chase Lyon forward Lisandro Lopez after failing to sign the 30-year-old back in January. Lopez only has one year left on his Lyon deal and has requested a move this summer, so the French side will look to cash in while they can before the Argentine striker leaves for nothing. Lopez can play up front or on the wings and has scored 82 goals in 166 games since joining Lyon from FC Porto in 2009. With quick feet and an eye for goal, Andre Villas-Boas would get a top player at a knock down price. What’s not to like about this deal?

Liverpool have made a move to sign Valencia left back Aly Cissokho initially on loan with a view to a permanent deal. The French international joined from Lyon but with Valencia in financial turmoil, they’re looking to offload valuable talent and the defender could cost just $6 million in total. But would Cissokho demand a starting spot at Anfield? I’m not sure. Jose Enrique has been solid yet unspectacular since his switch from Newcastle, and maybe Brendan Rodgers wants a bit more athleticism from his full backs. 25-year-old Cissokho would certainly provide that.

Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones could leave the Britannia Stadium after returning from the Gold Cup with Trinidad and Tobago. Jones, 28, has scored goals wherever he has played but has fallen behind Peter Crouch and others with the Potters. With West Brom looking to replace Romelu Lukaku, this could be a very shrewd move from Steve Clarke. Jones knows the league, is strong, quick and powerful and can play the lone forward role superbly well. They could probably get him for less than $8 million too, which would be a steal.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia