Is David Moyes stubborn or silly when it comes to Cesc Fabregas?

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Despite having two bids immediately rejected by Barcelona, Manchester United manager David Moyes is not giving up in his quest to sign midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Which begs the question, is Moyes being stubborn or just plain silly?

He’s stubborn (in the best way possible) if his efforts result in Barcelona selling Fabregas to United.

United’s first move for Fabregas on July 15 was for $38.2 million (£25m). Barcelona quickly rejected.

The second move for the midfielder made last week was understood to be in the region of $45.9 million (£30m)  plus add-ons. Again, Barcelona rejected on knee-jerk.

It now appears that Moyes is ready to table a third bid that will likely be somewhere between $53.5 million to $61.1 million (£35m to £40m). If the Catalan giants accept that bid then United will have their man and Moyes’ efforts will be classified as persistent. United will have their man, albeit at a slightly inflated price.

But if Barcelona deny the upcoming offer, many may consider Moyes to be a silly man.

Not only will he have failed to acquire the player he targeted to shore up the United midfield but, after having already missed out in his primary midfield target Thiago Alcantara, he also will have further dented the clout that Manchester United has long possessed in the transfer market. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s transfer market power was unprecedented. If the club wanted a player, the club got that player – and typically at a favorable rate.

Moyes further risks looking campy because he continued to pursue the player despite the tea leaves appearing relatively straightforward.

After United’s first bid was rejected then Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova explained, “Cesc has told me he wants to stay here. He has told me it is his dream to stay with Barcelona. 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.”

Following United’s second second bid a Barcelona source said that “Fabregas is not for sale” and that “[t]he president [Sandro Rosell] has been very clear with Man United.”

In addition to the club’s stance, Barcelona center-back Gerard Pique said: “United are wasting their time. It took a long time for Cesc to get his dream move back home, and he won’t give it up. This is home, it is where his family is, and he is playing with his closest friends. He has told us he is happy, and that he intends to stay with Barcelona.”

Even Alex Song, who arguably suffers from less playing time because of Fabregas, expressed his disbelief at the Spaniard moving to Old Trafford. “I did not speak with him but I know Cesc is 100 per cent here. He loves Barcelona, he loves the club. He will stay here next season and give 100 per cent because I know him very well and he’ll want to fight. He’s focused on the club.”

Yet while all those quotes seem to indicate only one result, the reality is that they are circumstantial in nature.

We have not heard directly from Rosell that Barcelona refuse to Fabregas to Manchester United. And we have not heard directly from Fabregas that he refuses to move to Manchester United.

Until either of those things happen ‘sources’ will blab and teammates will pine but Moyes still stands a chance at coming out of this situation looking more stubborn than silly.

 

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.