Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mandzukic to Man United, Kalou to Arsenal

Leave a comment

With Manchester United’s season continuing to stall, David Moyes needs some kind of boost in the January transfer window. He may just have found it. With Robert Lewandowski sealing his move to Bayern Munich this summer, Croatian international striker Mario Mandzukic could be on the move from Bayern. This season he has scored 12 goals in 21 games, after scoring in last years Champions League final win. Mandzukic, 27, will want regular soccer in the future and he might not get that at Bayern with Lewandowski’s arrival. His physical style will suite the Premier League so a switch to United would make sense in a lot of ways. United and even Arsenal are monitoring Manzukic’s situation.

Staying with the Gunners, former Chelsea attacker Salomon Kalou could be heading back to the PL with Arsene Wenger and Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers interested. Kalou, 28, is currently at French side Lille but it’s thought he could return to England for less than $5 million in January. The Gunners certainly need some reinforcements up front and Kalou’s PL experience means it wouldn’t take long for him to adapt. This season he’s scored six goals and added two assists in Ligue 1 as Lille sit third behind PSG and Monaco.

Newcastle United are looking to add to their ranks, with a loan move for Borussia Monchengladbach’s Luuk de Jong in the works. The Dutch striker, 23, would add some serious firepower to the Magpies offense and the Dutch international is looking to resrureeect his career after not scoring in 13 Bundesliga matches this season. Previously De Jong had shone with FC Twente in Holland but since switching to the Bundesliga last season his career has gone on a slight downward spiral. With the World Cup coming up this summer, the Dutch forward needs a big few months to try and make the Netherlands squad. Maybe a loan switch, with a view to a permanent move, would be good for both parties?

Blackpool’s Tom Ince could be on the move to Monaco, as the England U-21 international is available in a cut-price deal this January. Ince, 21, is only under contract until this summer at Bloomfield Road and is said to want a move away from the Championship club. Several Premier League teams have been linked with Ince (son of former Man United, Inter Milan and England midfielder Paul Ince, who is actually his manager at Blackpool) and the tricky winger has bags of pace. Ince has scored seven goals and added five assist in 21 games this season for the Seasiders and could follow in his father’s footsteps by moving abroad. Will Monaco be a good fit for him?

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has begun his rebuilding process at Cardiff City, and is apparently close to bringing two fellow Norwegians to join him in South Wales. Solksjaer’s former club Molde and Dutch side Herenveen are in talks with Cardiff over their midfielders Mats Moller Daehli and Magnus Wolff Eikrem respectively. Cardiff’s new manager has worked with both players before, having coached Eikrem while at Manchester United and Daehli during his time in charge of Molde. It’s said that deals are progressing well for both players, as Vincent Tan’s new manager will start to splash the cash.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez injured on international duty

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Atlanta United is sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings three weeks into its inaugural Major League Soccer season, and the bite appears to be every bit as fearsome as the bark for the newcomers.

Now, the club must contend with its first bit of truly scary news.

In-form striker Josef Martinez was injured on international duty with Venezuela and is heading back to the United States for evaluation. The report says he tweaked his left thigh, and after the match head coach Rafael Dudamel said he would release Martinez back to Atlanta, saying, “I do not think it’s good for Josef to travel. This muscle tightness can take 10 days of recovery.”

Martinez was subbed off of Venezuela’s match with Peru in the 59th minute, replaced by Yangel Herrera and walking off under his own power. Venezuela drew the match 2-2, blowing a 2-goal halftime lead and leaving them bottom of the table, 14 points back of the intercontinental playoff spot.

Obviously that 10-day recovery is more ideal than any other long-term prognosis, but it would still see him miss a road visit to Seattle next Friday. The 23-year-old has a whopping five games in his first three MLS games with Atlanta and has been a force. Brandon Vazquez and Bryan Rochez are the two options currently on Atlanta’s roster to replace the Venezuelan in the lineup.

Martinez was signed on loan from Serie A side Torino, but the move was made permanent last week.

Kevin de Bruyne questionable for injury-laden Belgium

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Belgium, already without superstar Eden Hazard for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Greece, will now be without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up an injury in training on Friday and will miss both the match against Greece and the subsequent friendly against Russia three days later…maybe.

The Belgian National Team official Twitter account sent out a quote from manager Roberto Martinez that confirmed De Bruyne would miss the pair of matches, but the tweet was quickly deleted.

Instead, this one was pushed out in its place, correcting his availability and also updating the type of injury:

Should De Bruyne miss out, it means Belgium would likely rely heavily on Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas for the playmaking duties, with midfielder Radja Nainggolan potentially taking on a more attacking role as well.

Belgium and Martinez also confirmed that right-back Thomas Meunier will miss out after failing to recover from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini‘s status is unknown after he was held out of Thursday’s training session.

The injury also leaves De Bruyne’s status for Manchester City up in the air, with a pair of massive games in London in quick succession after the injury break. City visits Arsenal next Sunday, followed by a hop over to Stanford Bridge on Wednesday.

Landon Donovan retires again, this time for good

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After coming out of retirement last fall to join the LA Galaxy for one more shot at an MLS Cup, Landon Donovan has once again called time on his career, saying he’s certain he will not play again.

With a number of other ventures on his plate, the USMNT all-time leading scorer is looking forward to spending his time elsewhere.

“Yeah, I’m done,” Donovan said. “I’m done. No more playing for me. I have not [gone public with it yet]. But that is definitely the case.”

Donovan scored one goal in nine games for the LA Galaxy in his comeback bid, with the club ravaged by injuries and still gunning for the Cup. However, after the season was over with a loss to Colorado in the Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy confirmed it was nothing more than a short-term stopgap.

“With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing,”team president Chris Klein said to the L.A. Times in December. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and we see we’re comfortable in the direction that we’re headed.”

In January, reports claimed Real Salt Lake had offered Donovan a Designated Player contract, but it appears he’s turned it down, and will now have time to concentrate on his other ventures. Off the field, Donovan is an analyst on Fox’s soccer coverage, is on the advisory committee for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid, and has joined the ownership group attempting to bring an expansion MLS team to San Diego.

Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho scores thunderbolt for Brazil

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brazil topped Uruguay 4-1 to move on the verge of World Cup qualification, but there was much more to the first half of this match than meets the eye.

Uruguay went ahead 1-0 on a 9th-minute penalty won and scored by Edinson Cavani, and for a moment it seemed like the home side might find its way to pull within a point of Brazil at the top of the CONMEBOL standings. That would not last very long.

[ MORE: Full roundup of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying action ]

Just 10 minutes later, a bad giveaway near the midfield stripe saw Neymar casually feed Paulinho a good 50 yards from goal. The former Spurs man took matters into his own hands, charging forward and unleashing a vicious strike that continued to rise until it ripped the chords in the top-right corner.

 

Not only was the goal a sight to behold, it was an important moment in the match. Brazil was back level at 1-1, and Paulinho would be on his way to an eventual hat-trick with a pair in the second half. Neymar scored once as well to complete the 4-1 final scoreline, and the three points for Brazil saw them remain perfect in the World Cup qualifying round as they march seven clear of Uruguay at the top of the standings.

For Paulinho, the hat-trick brings him to four goals in the World Cup qualifying round, adding to his score in the 3-0 win over Argentina. They also mark an important moment for the Chinese Super League, where Paulinho now plays, having moved from Spurs in July of 2015. Some national team coaches have left players on the outside of the squad for moving to leagues such as the Chinese League or Major League Soccer, but Paulinho has clearly been an asset to Brazil despite his club situation. In fact, in China, Paulinho has scored four goals in his four league matches for Guangzhou Evergrande this season plus another in the Asian Champions League, leaving him in top goalscoring form coming into this international break, something which has clearly translated directly to international play.

The 28-year-old had lost his place in the national team squad in 2014, going over two years without a single international appearance, but has been a mainstay in the Brazilian side during this World Cup qualification cycle.