Manchester United get Marouane Fellaini ($42 million), possibly Fabio Coentrao (loan) in under the wire

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About this previous post: The one where we were trying to draw parallels between Manchester United’s deadline activity and Arsenal’s of years’ past? Given a couple of late acquisitions — moves made just before today’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline — that comparison may be a little harsh. After all, in bringing in a couple of international-quality players, the Red Devils have certainly improved their squad, even if the day featured one prominent miss.

But let’s put Ander Herrera in the past for now. Because now is about Marouane Fellaini, who finally moves from Everton for $42 million. Now is about Fabio Coentrao, who will (or, may) take up residence in Manchester on a one-year loan from Real Madrid.  Together, they represent the two significant additions Red Devils supporters thought they were getting with Herrera and Fellaini, and if the embarrassment of the Herrera situation can be put aside, Red Devil supporters may see their team as similarly improved.

Every Premier League fan knows Fellaini, the tall, afro-wielding Belgian impossible to ignore in the middle of the park. Capable of playing anywhere from defensive midfield (his preferred position) to supporting striker (arguably, his most effective spot under David Moyes at Everton), Fellaini is one of the more versatile players in the league. He’s also the type of guy that can prove a great equalizer in Champions League, where his physicality, ability on set pieces can cover for a lot of evils. Roaming the area between Manchester United’s overpowering attack and the team’s regista, Michael Carrick, Fellaini is the perfect fit for the Red Devils, even if it’s been some time (ever?) since the club had a player like him.

In Coentrao, David Moyes gets another highly versatile player, one that can play either fullback spot as well as in central midfield. With injuries at right back, the Portuguese international should see time immediately, and whether it be spelling left back Patrice Evra, complementing Carrick, or filling in for anybody else in midfield, Coentrao should prove a valuable piece, if not (eventually) an outright starter.

Yet as we write, news is coming of another potentially embarrassing situation for United, with one source in Spain (relied in English by another source in Spain) affirming speculation United failed to get Coentrao’s paper world in before Monday’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline:

[tweet https://twitter.com/GuillemBalague/status/374671259159642113]

According the The Guardian’s latest reporting, Manchester United sent in preliminary paperwork in time and had until 7:00 p.m. Eastern to get Coentrao’s details worked out.

If Coentrao’s move goes through, it’s a successful day for United, even if they missed out on Herrera; even if they missed out on Leighton Baines. If, however, Coentrao’s situation gets added to the Herrera debacle, this goes down as one of the more embarrassing Deadline Days in recent memory, with foibles costing a prestigious club two potentially valuable pieces.

If that happens, expect Red Devil mistakes to overshadow Fellaini’s acquisition when we think back on this summer window.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

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

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

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

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

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