Sunderland make $10 million Michael Bradley bid, Roma reject

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Sunderland are apparently trying to double their US national team contingent, but it looks like they may have to up their bid.

NBC Sports soccer studio host Rebecca Lowe mentioned the bid during the Southampton vs. Sunderland broadcast earlier today and reports from Italy suggest that the Black Cats have made a $10 million offer for Michael Bradley.

However AS Roma have rejected the Premier League clubs offer.

Rumors have circled for some time about Bradley joining Jozy Altidore in the North East of England, with Sunderland’s American owner Ellis Short is said to be a huge fan of bringing the USA’s star midfielder to the Premier League.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has already signed Bradley’s US national team pal Altidore, for $13 million earlier this summer and Altidore could have a huge input on whether or not Bradley arrives.

But even though Sunderland are an established top-flight club, this would be a bit of a strange move. 26-year-old Bradley has been a regular since joining Roma from Chievo in 2012 and is enjoying a successful Serie A career to date.

(More: MLS Insider, Michael Bradley – A child of MLS)

Bradley has had one brief spell in the Premier League in the past with a loan stint at Aston Villa not going well back in 2011, when he joined from Borussia Mönchengladbach.

However ahead of the 2014 World Cup, could Bradley’s spot as a regular in the Roma starting lineup be under threat?

After playing extremely well and becoming a fans favorite during his first season in the Italian capital, it’s hard to see that happen.

So for me, Bradley should stay where he’s at.

The whole idea of whether or not Bradley is more suited to Serie A or the English Premier League also comes to the fore, but the US national team midfielder has stepped up his game considerably since briefly turning out for Villa in 2011.

It’s a difficult one, but admiration from fans and a fresh start under a new manager in Rome is pretty hard to leave. Especially for a cold winter in Northern England for a team that won’t be creative and is just looking to consolidate itself in the Premier League. Harsh as that sounds, it’s the reality.

Sunderland’s bid was turned down by Roma, but even if they come back with an improved offer, it’s hard to see Bradley leaving Serie A for Sunderland.

But you never know…

(MORE: Would the move really make any sense for Michael Bradley?)

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Man City reportedly agrees $86m price for Laporte

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Sky Sports reporter Guillem Balague is reporting that Manchester City is set to seal an $86 million purchase of center back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, and all that’s left is for City to agree to contract terms with the player.

[ MORE: MCFC into League Cup Final ]

The 23-year-old has been with the Basque outfit since 2012, making more than 200 appearances for Athletic. Balague issued a Tweet saying Man City opted for Laporte over $34 million Jonny Evans of West Brom.

Laporte is a smooth and technical passer at center back who shouldn’t have a problem with the physical nature of the Premier League either. He’s yet to break into the French national team, and is only the second French player to play for Bilbao.

Rumors have circulated for some time, though a Tuesday report was dismissed because Laporte was in advanced discussions with Man City during a previous transfer window when he changed his mind.

It’s more big money from City, a boon for Athletic Bilbao, and terrific competition for John Stones and any Man City center back not named Nicolas Otamendi (and Vincent Kompany when healthy).

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”