Nemanja Vidic’s agent ‘would rule out’ an extension at Manchester United

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Dealing with a three-game losing streak, the last thing Manchester United needs is prominent players threatening to jump ship, but between the increased rumblings surrounding Wayne Rooney’s contract and the idea Nemanja Vidic might be going elsewhere, two big chunks of the team’s core are in doubt. Yet whereas Rooney is locked into his United deal into 2014-15, the team’s captain is in the final six months of his contract, meaning he could sign an agreement with another team at any time.

If Vidic’s agent is to believed, that team won’t be Manchester United, with Silvano Martina telling Italian radio that the 32-year-old Serbian international is unlikely to sign an extension with the Red Devils.

From reporting by The Guardian:

“Vidic, given his contract situation, has several teams looking at him,” his agent Silvano Martina told Radio Crc in Napoli. “Vidic is a very good player and will have no trouble finding a new club. For the time being we are remaining calm. However, at the moment, I would rule out an extension with Manchester United.”

The question is to what extent this threat is to be believed. Would Nemanja Vidic, in the face of a fair offer (if that ever comes), really walk away from Manchester United? Possibly. It’s possible Vidic wants to move on, adding a second storied team to his résumé before entering the final phase of his career. Maybe Martina’s comments reflect the viewpoint of a man who just wants to change things up.

Given the context of the comment, however, this seems like posturing. Before making the ‘rule out’ claim, Martina describes the market for Vidic. He’s a good player, teams are looking at him, and he’ll have no trouble finding a club, the agent claims. The implication: Manchester United’s clearly going to have to offer Martina’s client something good to turn away from this opportunity.

Okay, perhaps I’m reading too much into the comments, but it’s far easier for me to believe that a player entering the last part of his contract is trying to get a new deal than imagining somebody in his seventh season at a club and entering the final part of his career is moving on without a better explanation. “I want to play for another team” would be a great explanation, but instead of providing that, Martina described why Manchester United should be offering Vidic a deal.

When a player reaches a certain age, the Red Devils do this. They don’t offer multi-year deals, and they usually wait until the new year to start getting their guys signed up for the following season. It’s why Ryan Giggs seems to be perpetually on a one-year contract, and it’s also why Rio Ferdinand’s future is in doubt. Even 32-year-old Michael Carrick’s recently signed contract extension only goes until June 2015, though there is an option to extend it another season.

It’s a lack of commitment that also gives players an out, something that could cost United one of their two best (if not their best) central defender. But based on how Martina’s going about things, the agent’s ‘rule out’ stance seems negotiating than true declaration of intent. If the reason Vidic wasn’t interested in a contract extension was a desire to play elsewhere, it would have been put in those terms.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.