Anything new to latest David Beckham, Miami, MLS expansion story? Maybe just a little

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Here’s what we know about David Beckham the player: his array of handlers at 19 Entertainment were always tops about keeping the global icon in the news. Even when there wasn’t much newsiness in the “news,”  they faithfully, skillfully worked the media levers to keep the man’s Q rating and brand appeal at military grade strength.

And here’s what we are discovering about Beckham’s post-playing days: nothing is going to change as far as keeping his name in the news and handlers skillfully working the media levers.

To wit: About once a month or so, we read about David Beckham, MLS expansion and Miami. It’s pretty much always the same story, with possibly just a smidge of new info.

But that’s the evil genius of Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment: They know how it all works, how to inch the story forward ever so slowly – always keeping the batteries fresh and the lights illuminating Beckham’s brand machine.

Today comes the latest clicks driver, the next story that says, essentially, “David Beckham wants an MLS expansion franchise, and it will probably be in Miami.” This one is from Associated Press’ UK-based reporter Rob Harris.

This is no criticism on Harris. Any reporter who can move the story along, even a little, is a fool not to exploit the opportunity. And this one does say that Beckham has “picked Miami.” That, coming from an unnamed source, scoots the story forward just a bit.

Thing is, that is far, far from official; more on that in a second.

Harris also reported that Fuller, of “American Idol” creation fame, “will be a significant shareholder.” Truth is, Fuller has long been significantly involved in every major Beckham business venture, and he was always going to be involved here at some level.

I spoke to MLS executive vice president Dan Courtemanche late this afternoon. He told me Beckham has yet to reveal the particular makeup of his ownership group.

Courtemanche declined to say whether Beckham had made any official proclamations to MLS of Miami as the primary target.

source:
Just 11 months ago, Beckham was walking off the StubHub Center field, an MLS champion.

“We are continuing our discussions with David Beckham regarding future ownership of an MLS expansion team,” Courtemanche said. “Our policy regarding discussions with potential expansion team owners is that we keep those conversations private until the individuals we are speaking with decide they want to go public with their plans. Thus, it is more appropriate for David Beckham to comment on his plans.”

My guess: Beckham can say today that Miami is it, his one true MLS expansion love!  That he adores Miami and wants to be in the land of pastels and believes South Florida soon will be Seattle, Portland and Toronto FC (circa 2008) all rolled into one.

But if Beckham runs more numbers and decides tomorrow that Miami just doesn’t work, for whatever reason, he can certainly change his mind. MLS isn’t going to turn the man down – well, MLS can’t contractually, even if it wanted to – because the object of Beckham’s geographical affections has shifted elsewhere.

In other words, if the next Beckham-MLS expansion story says he is now considering San Diego or San Francisco or San Antonio or wherever, MLS will probably respond with, “Sounds good. … Let’s get a look at that stadium plan!”

And if Beckham does such a thing, that will make a good story for Fuller or one of his 19 Entertainment handlers to leak, too.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

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Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

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The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

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Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…