32 European nations bid to joint-host Euro 2020 competition

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In what is set to become a landmark tournament in terms of organization, Euro 2020 bids have now been submitted by 32 European nations.

Now the hard part begins.

Between now and next September, UEFA has to whittle down 40 cities to 13… get ready for some serious canvassing from all four corners of the European continent.

If you’re not familiar with the novel approach UEFA are taking for Euro 2020, let’s step back for a second to dissect exactly what will happen. As has been the case since the European Championships and World Cups began, either one host country of two joint-hosts have put on hugely expensive and lavish tournaments for the world to enjoy. But now all that may stop, as President of UEFA Michel Platini and his executive board have decided that the financial burden is too much for one nation to take, as arguably the worlds second biggest international soccer tournament is a massive commitment.

So, in 2020 the tournament will be spread across Europe, with one or two cities in each country bidding to become a host venue for the quirky 2020 edition. Will it work? Many are waiting on with bated breath, as this could also spell the end for one nation hosting the World Cup in the future.

Personally, I think it’s an incredibly smart idea to host the tournament across the entire European continent. It cuts down on costs, celebrates the entire regions cultural diversity and helps spread the beautiful game to the entire population of Europe. What’s not to like about it?

Plus, players will be gracing some of the greatest venues in world soccer, and fans will enjoy the excellent transport links via air and rail to zip between countries and take in many different games within a venues.

Turkey and Istanbul is a front-runner to hos the semi-finals and final, while other iconic cities such as London, Munich, Rome, Lisbon and Madrid all headlining the incredible cities that could host games.

It make sense, from a financial and spectator standpoint… so why not try it out? I have a feeling this strategy may be the go-to setup for future European Championships.

Below is the list of the 40 cities UEFA can choose from to host games in 2020, not bad, eh?

Armenia (Yerevan), Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Croatia (Zagreb), Czech Republic (Prague), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), Finland (Helsinki), France (Lyon), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Greece (Athens), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Italy (Rome and Milan), Kazakhstan (Astana), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Poland (Warsaw and Chorzow), Portugal (Lisbon and Porto), Republic of Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (Saint Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Serbia (Belgrade), Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia), Sweden (Solna), Switzerland (Basel), Turkey (Istanbul), Ukraine (Kyiv and Donetsk) and Wales (Cardiff)

Sargent signs first professional contract on his 18th birthday

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Josh Sargent’s 18th birthday is one he’ll never forget.

The young American phenom was finally able to sign his first professional contract on Tuesday after turning 18-years old, passing the FIFA threshold for when a foreigner can sign a pro contract. Sargent has been training with Werder Bremen’s youth teams for the last few months and has even trained with the first team and featured for the Werder Bremen U23s.

“We’ve gone over all the formalities and Josh signed his professional contract with us earlier,” Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann said on Tuesday afternoon. “Again, we’re delighted he decided to join us. He’s settled in brilliantly since the turn of the year.”

[READ: UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas]

Sargent will continue to train with the youth teams and reserves, and will be eligible to feature for the Werder Bremen first team for the 2018-2019 season.

Orlando City sign defender Sane from Werder Bremen

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After making a number of moves to improve its attack this offseason, Orlando City SC is now splashing the cash to improve its backline.

The club announced on Tuesday the signing of veteran centerback Lamine Sane from Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on a permanent deal. It appears that with less than six months left on his contract and Sane not in Werder Bremen manager Florian Kohfeldt’s plans, he was allowed to leave on a free transfer.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

“Lamine will significantly strengthen our back line,” Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic said in a statement. “He brings tremendous experience at the highest levels of European football and we believe he will fit right in with what we’re trying to build in Orlando.”

Sane started 27 times for Werder Bremen during a struggling 2016-2017 season, but had made just 11 appearances this season for the Bundesliga side. He’s also made 25 caps for Senegal, but the French-born defender hasn’t appeared for them since 2015. Perhaps a good start to the season in MLS could get him a surprise spot in the World Cup squad.

The 30-year-old joins a rebuilt starting lineup featuring other veterans as Orlando City looks to win in the near term, after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs.

While the team lost Cyle Larin and Kaka in the offseason, Jason Kreis and co. brought in Dom Dwyer late in the 2017 season, Justin Meram, Josue Colman, Uri Rosell and Sacha Kljestan in the offseason.  Along with a couple of new outside backs, Sane is the first signing to shore up the leaky middle of the park for Orlando, one that the club’s fans hope will lead Orlando City to a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference in the least in 2018.

Report: Barcelona agree nearly $50 million deal for Brazilian starlet Arthur

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Barcelona has again beaten out its league and global rivals for the next up and coming Brazilian star.

According to a report from Brazilian publication Globo Esporte, Barcelona has agreed with Gremio on a $49.4 million transfer fee for midfielder Arthur. The deal would see 60 percent of the fee go to Gremio and the rest to agents and the owners of part of the player’s rights.

[READ: Spurs ‘have capacity’ to win Champions League]

The 21-year-old’s deal is still subject to the standard medical tests, and wouldn’t go through until January 2019.

Arthur broke onto the scene as a permanent member of the Gremio first team in 2017, starting 27 league matches and nine times in the Copa Libertadores as a dominant holding midfielder.

Barcelona will likely look for him to play a similar role to countryman Paulinho or Sergio Busquets, controlling the tempo of the game with passing but also being able to quickly snuff out an attack.

Arthur created controversy in December when he was photographed wearing a Barcelona shirt. It was around then that news began to leak that Barcelona began negotiations for his services. According to other news reports, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Inter Milan were also interested in Arthur’s services.

Wigan, Manchester City cooperating with police after pitch invasion

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Some Wigan Athletic fans got a little too excited following the club’s shock 1-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup, and the police are now investigating alleged crimes that happened on the field and outside of the stadium.

Police confirmed to the BBC that two supporters were arrested outside the stadium on suspicion of assault while the police are working with both Wigan and Man City to investigate what happened pitch side after the final whistle.

[READ: Wigan bounce 10-man Man City]

Man City striker Sergio Aguero was involved in an altercation with a fan on the field after the game, and it appeared that Man City supporters threw down advertising hoardings onto the field.

“Football is a family event and the disruption that players and fans alike faced will not be tolerated,” Greater Manchester police chief superintendent Stuart Ellison told the BBC. “As soon as people were on the pitch, we immediately deployed our resources to the front of the stands, where they were able to keep the two groups of supporters apart and prevent any further disruption.”