Ryan Nelsen

Toronto FC make hunt for Italian Designated Player public

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In a week of change at Toronto FC, more new faces will soon be on the way.

We just don’t know who yet.

But MLSE (TFC’S owners) president and CEO Tim Leiweke revealed the side has earmarked several Italian players to become the clubs newest DP.

Leiweke and head coach Ryan Nelsen already have an off-season trip to Italy scheduled and have been in talks with agents and players about potential moves.

“I don’t want to be the GM, but we will be involved on the DPs,” Leiweke said. “I would say that our involvement will be on big contracts and big commitments on behalf of our owners. We will be involved in trying to find the right DPs and trying to make the right deals.

(MORE: Kevin Payne’s time at Toronto FC ends after nine months)

And it seems as though Toronto’s head coach is increasingly becoming the man who calls the shots in their player recruitment policy after GM Kevin Payne left earlier this week. Leiweke revealed the former Blackburn and Queens Park Rangers defender has some exciting irons in the fire.

“Ryan is helping and leading the charge on identifying the players that he wants,” Leiweke said. “They are DPs and they are marquee DPs and he is anxious and excited about that. Ryan and I are 100 percent on the same page on this January window and what we are looking for and on the players we are looking for. We have had specific conversations about targets.”

So although the identity of the DPs Toronto are targeting remains a secret, what areas should they look to strengthen in as Nelsen continues his long-term rebuild? Having only scored 23 goals in 26 games, the second lowest total in the league, Toronto should be looking for Italian attacker to lead them into the future.

But why are they specifically focusing on Italians?Good question.

Well, after digging through some demographics on the City of Toronto, the 2011 census states that 8.6 percent of Toronto natives are from Italian backgrounds which equates to roughly 475,090 people. That is a huge market to tap into and after their MLS rivals Montreal have fared so well since importing Italian stars such as Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pisanu, can you blame TFC for trying to get in on that?

Even if Nelsen does plump for some star veterans, Italian greats have always been known to keep themselves in tremendous shape and the psychical demands of MLS haven’t taken too big a toll on Montreal’s Italian contingent.

Ready yourself for plenty of rumors regarding Italian soccer stars leaving Serie A for BMO Field in the next few months.

Ahead of huge title clash, influential Leicester scout transfers to Arsenal

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Ben Wrigglesworth might not be a man you’ve heard a lot about, but he has been influential in helping Leicester City’s unlikely charge to the top of the Premier League.

Now, he’s been poached by Leicester’s main title rivals: Arsenal.

[ MORE: Spurs, Arsenal to battle for title?

Ahead of the monster clash between the Foxes and Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) the man who unearthed the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante has transferred to Arsenal and is now their First Team Video Scout.

Wrigglesworth, Leicester’s former Head of Technical Scouting, announced he would be leaving the Foxes via his Twitter page (see below) and he has now accepted a new role as part of Steve Rowley’s team at Arsenal.

It is believed he will not only help with the scouting of players but will also analyze Arsenal’s first team and the opposition.

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Arsenal will unveil a new player performance center at their training HQ this summer and have recently purchased a soccer data company based in America, statDNA, to help them with scouting and player analysis.

With several Premier League teams now having huge player databases monitored by a team of talented individuals — often, like Wrigglesworth, with no pro playing experience — scouring the globe for the next bargain, the Moneyball vibe is strong.

VIDEO: Top 5 Premier League goals of Week 25

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Week 25 of the Premier League saw some stunning goals scored.

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

But which were the best?

In the video above are the top five strikes, as Jesse Lingard‘s stunning swivel and finish for Manchester United against Chelsea must be the top strike. Right?

Take a gander and see which is your favorite.

American takeover of Everton edging closer

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19:  A general view during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park on December 19, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Soon there could be an American flag fluttering at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Spurs, Arsenal to battle for title?

Following reports in December stating that former San Diego Padres owner John Jay Moores and his associate Charles Noell were in talks to buy Premier League club Everton, a new report from the Liverpool Echo states the $300 million takeover could be completed in the next two weeks.

Long-time Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has come under increasing scrutiny from fans of the Toffees this season about their lack of spending in the transfer market and the businessman has reportedly been in talks with many interested parties over the years to try and sell the Merseyside club.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The report from the Echo says Moores and Noell have spent the last six weeks carrying out due diligence and have been in talks with the biggest shareholders, chairman Kenwright, plus Robert Earl and Jon Woods, about buying them out.

If Moores and Noell do become the majority shareholders of Everton and the controlling owners would mean the Toffees would be the seventh current PL club to be owned by Americans.

Manchester United, Sunderland, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Aston Villa all have majority owners who are from the U.S.

West Ham confirm talks underway to give Payet new contract

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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West Ham United have announced they are in talks with star man Dimitri Payet about a new contract.

[ MORE: Spurs, Arsenal to battle for title?

Just over halfway into his first season in the Premier League the Frenchman, 28, has become a cult hero at Upton Park with his dazzling skills delighting the West Ham faithful.

However, reports in the UK on Tuesday had stated that Payet and his representatives were demanding a huge raise amid reported interest from other suitors but the club has moved swiftly to deny those claims.

Here’s the statement in full from West Ham:

Following reports in today’s media, West Ham United would like to clarify that at no time have Dimitri Payet or his agent made any demands to the Club over a new contract. However, the Club can confirm that due to Dimitri’s outstanding impact since his arrival at the Boleyn Ground, they have initiated amicable and productive talks about an improvement and extension to his contract.

Those talks are progressing well and it is hoped they can be concluded shortly. Dimitri would like to make clear that he is very proud to play for West Ham United and he appreciates the support he has received from the Board, manager and fans since he joined the Club in the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Payet has been a revelation since arriving from Marsielle in the summer for $15 million. He leads West Ham in PL goals (6), assists (4) and chances created (67). His mercurial flicks and tricks has seen admiration from around the league as the Hammers chase a top six finish under Slaven Bilic during his debut season in charge. Ahead of their move to London’s Olympic Stadium in the 2016-17 season, it’s likely Payet will lead this new-look West Ham side into an exciting new era.

He has a strong connection with fans of the east London club who sing his name loud and proud.

Payet released the following message via Twitter to calm any fears about him leaving.