Manchester United’s move for Ander Herrera descends into chaos (Updated)

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At one point, we characterized the Ander Herrera-to-Manchester United story as “stronger” than the Marouane Fellaini link. That point was two-and-a-half hours ago. Since, the potential move of the Athletic Bilbao midfielder to Old Trafford has descended into chaos, rumor, and ultimately for United, failure.

Here’s what’s generally been reported, after hours of speculation as to what exactly went wrong: Manchester United were all set to hit Herrera’s buyout (€36 million; $47.5 million), but Spanish taxes pushed that up to €42 million. Apparently, this is a detail that United only realized today, when they actually went to trigger the player’s release. Unable to negotiate a lower fee with Athletic (whose previous reticence to settle for anything below the buyout should have foreshadowed their recalcitrant attitude), United walked away from the deal.

The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, on Twitter:

So let me break tone for a moment and try to get this straight: Arsenal is the team making huge, last-minute swoops for world-class talent? And Manchester United’s  the one getting tripped up by technicalities and a last-minute unwillingness to get a deal done? 2013, you’re blowing my mind.

Equally mind-blowing was some of the speculation flying around once the Herrera deal fell apart, little of which has been validated to this point (so proceed from here are your own risk). United’s representatives were said to be in Spain to pay the buyout only to leave the LFP’s offices having run into an administrative issue. Presumably, that was the tax. Later, speculation surfaced claiming the United representatives were not people from the club at all. Moments afterward, Spanish journalist Guillem Balague reported the deal was off. In a final round of fancy, some claimed the United officials were real, yet they were negotiating with fake Athletic representatives, possibly a telephone-esque distorting for another rumor.

UPDATE: According to Taylor, the final piece of speculation is likely (bizarrely) true:

“I think we’re going to hear a lot more about this in the coming days. The details are a bit sketchy but I’ve just had it confirmed from Old Trafford that the people who were in Spain, apparently negotiating on their behalf for Ander Herrera, were not sent there by the club and can accurately be described as ‘impostors’.”

World soccer, ladies and gentlemen.

Regardless, Ander Herrera is not joining Manchester United, and as of the end of the transfer window (roughly 20 minutes ago), neither had Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, though deals could still be in process at the FA’s office. Still, it’s looking more and more like fears harbored over the last two weeks by United fans — fears their club wouldn’t spend at all — may be realized. Unless you consider Guillermo Varela as “spending.”

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET