Phil Jagielka out up to four weeks with hamstring injury

Leave a comment

The Boxing Day injury that forced Everton captain Phil Jagielka to miss the Toffees’ 2-1 Sunday win over Southampton could sideline the England international until late January, according to the BBC. Although manager Roberto Martínez concedes the 31-year-old could return earlier, the defender’s hamstring problem may see him sidelined for three league matches.

Given Everton’s upcoming schedule, the injury comes at a decent time. After the team’s Jan. 1 trip to Stoke City (12th in the Premier League), the Toffees host Norwich (14th) before visiting West Brom (15th), with an FA Cup date hosting second tier Queens Park Rangers on Jan. 4 adding a fourth game to the four-week window.

If all goes to plan, however, Jagielka should be back in time for Jan. 28th’s visit from Liverpool, with the year’s second Merseyside Derby carry extra weight between teams currently occupying fourth and fifth place.

[MORE: Everton 2-1 Southampton: Romelu Lukaku response ensures home win (Video)]

According to Martínez, the injury was less anything that happened in the Sunderland game than an accumulation of wear-and-tear suffered during England’s busy season:

“With this soft tissue injury it could be up to four weeks. Knowing Jags he will be back earlier,” Martinez said.

“It is just the accumulation of games and the demands of this month – November into December is high-risk in terms of injuries to the players.

“When you have the number of games we play, it is understandable.”

Sunday’s was the first Premier League game Jagielka has missed this season, the 24-time England international having played every minute of the Toffees’ campaign before sitting out Sunday’s 2-1 win. With him and partner Sylvain Distin at the back, Everton has allowed a league-low 18 goals, their one conceded against Southampton pushing them even with Arsenal for the Premier League’s best mark.

In Jagielka’s place, Martínez will turn to a favorite from his days at Wigan Athletic. Making his first appearance of the season on Sunday, Paraguayan international Antolín Alcaraz got the call ahead of John Heitenga, the 31-year-old logging a full 90 minutes against the visiting Saints.

If Heitenga can’t match his manager’s optimism, Everton will need three or four more performances like that out of Alcaraz. While the veteran may be a step back from Jagielka, he should be able to help Everton keep up their winning ways against a kind early January schedule.

Report: Man City adding Mendy to continue backline restoration

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.

[ MORE: Alvaro Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.

Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.

Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.

Report: Alexis Sanchez meets with PSG ahead of proposed move

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Neymar has received a lot of the attention as PSG appears poised to open its checkbook to acquire the Brazilian, but another high-profile South American could very well be heading to France this summer.

[ MORE: Conte says Costa situation was was sorted out in January ]

Arsenal remains certain that it will be able to maintain the rights to Alexis Sanchez ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season, but the Chilean and his representatives were reportedly in Paris on Friday meeting with the Parc des Princes side over a proposed move.

Goal is reporting that the 28-year-old and his team of representatives met with PSG officials for several hours on Friday as the second-place finishers from a season ago are set to offer over $58 million for Sanchez.

Sanchez has scored 72 goals across all competitions for the Gunners since joining the club in 2014 from Barcelona.

Mascherano still believes Neymar is “the future” of Barcelona

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Neymar-to-PSG saga has escalated quickly, and signs of the Brazilian’s move to Paris are growing, but one Barcelona player remains confident that his compatriot will stay in Spain ahead of the new La Liga season.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract with Chelsea ]

PSG has shown a willingness over recent days to meet Barca’s worldly $260 million transfer fee for the 25-year-old, while Neymar has reportedly alerted his teammates that he will in fact be heading to the Parc des Princes next month.

Veteran Barcelona midfielder/defender Javier Mascherano is one of the Blaugrana players that hopes Neymar will stick around and help anchor the La Liga giants for years to come despite a possible massive payday in store.

“Obviously he is young and I hope he’s here with Barcelona for many more years,” the Argentina defender said to ESPN.

“He is a really important player for the club. Because of his age, he’s the future of the club and we hope we can keep on counting on him.

“He’s accustomed to the pressure and people talking. There’s always going to be rumours and news around him.

“It’s really difficult to give advice. Firstly, I’m not anyone to be giving advice and secondly, I see him really happy here, really happy. [Barca] are a club that have made it possible for him to perform at his best. But after that, each person has to make their own decisions.”

If Neymar does bolt for Paris the complexion of the MSN-Barca attack changes drastically despite still boasting elite talents Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

[ MORE: Man United drops Man City in Houston “Manchester Derby” ]

Barca has done little in the transfer market this summer, only adding Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu and Nelson Semedo of Benfica. The club continues to pursue Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho, however, the Reds recently rejected a bid of $93 million.

‘Nothing is impossible’: Bonucci brings hope to AC Milan

Twitter/AC Milan
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) Nothing is impossible. That’s AC Milan’s new unofficial slogan following Leonardo Bonucci’s surprise transfer from defending six-time Serie A champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Neymar reportedly tells Barca teammates he’s off to PSG ]

Presenting fans to Bonucci via Weibo on Friday, Milan CEO Marco Fassone recounted how Italy’s top defender moved to a rival club.

“It started by chance and it seemed impossible but Leo interrupted me right away and said, `Nothing is impossible. When there’s desire to do things you can get them done.”‘

Milan has been on a spending spree following the club’s sale to a Chinese-led consortium for $800 million in April, and Bonucci is the top acquisition, so far.

“Leo doesn’t require introductions,” Fassone said. “It’s an extraordinary reinforcement for us. … He completes a mosaic sought after by (Milan chief sport officer Massimiliano) Mirabelli – a mix of younger players and experienced leaders who will make the road ahead easier.”

Other recent signings by Milan included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).

Bonucci thanked Kessie for letting him wear his preferred No. 19 shirt, and pointed to Milan’s seven European Cups and Champions League titles as a reference point for a club that did not even qualify for continental play the last three years and hasn’t won Serie A since 2011.

“Milan deserves to be among the elite again in Italy and Europe,” Bonucci said. “When you are united you win. The strength has to be that of the squad whereas singular players alone can do nothing. We can get back to the top and that’s what this club deserves.”

Bonucci’s transfer fee reportedly topped the 40 million euro ($45 million) mark, and the center back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to 10 million euros ($11 million) per season, including bonuses – making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

Meanwhile, Juventus is reportedly near to signing prized winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina for a reported fee of 40 million euros ($45 million). The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Juventus will sign the 23-year-old Bernardeschi to five-year contract worth 4 million euros ($4.6 million) per season.