Tuesday transfer rumor roundup: David Luiz linked to Barcelona, Cardiff looking at Zaha, Morrison

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Gossip columns spent the better part of the summer speculating which center back would wind up at Barcelona only to see Blaugrana pass on all their options. With Carles Puyol still struggling to stay health, it make sense that the old copy is being recycled, with a potential $47 million move for David Luiz gracing the pages of Real Madrid-friendly Marca. The outlet also sees Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala, Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Sociedad’s Inigo Martínez as targets.

Mangala, however, is going to be a much-soughtafter man when the Dragons decide to sell. The 22-year-old French monster (I meant that in the best way) is also being sought after by Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United, according to one report. Then again, every big club in England is after everybody, according to the U.K. outlets, right?

Meanwhile, over at AS, it’s Real Madrid that’s in the news. Fabio Coentrão, who nearly moved to Manchester United at the end of the summer window, will reportedly cost over $30 million to get out of the Bernábeu. Then again, that report is from the Daily Star, who have the lowest rumor accuracy of all England’s outlets. So let’s take the $30 million Coentrão with a grain of salt.

Over in Italy, D.C. United’s Erik Thorir, operating in his capacity as president of Inter Milan, was short on specifics when he claimed wanted to “strengthen” while admitting the club have “an excess of players for certain roles.” The Indonesian businessman also claimed Walter Mazzarri’s team was too old, claiming the ideal “average age of the team should be 26.” Sounds like a recipe for both buying and selling, making them no different from most teams in the January market.

All those rumors about Paul Pogba returning to Manchester United? Not going to happen, according to the player. Resentment about how the French international was treated by Alex Ferguson could keep the one-time Red Devil trainee from returning to Manchester. Next stop: the Santiago Bernabéu?

Back in England, if Manchester United really are looking to replace Patrice Evra, Leighton Baines is candidate number one. Given how much David Moyes like his former left back, the England international may be the entire candidate’s list, something that has Everton keen to get their star fullback inked to a new contract. Baines’ current deal runs through June 2016.

Newsflash: Cardiff City are in trouble. Subheadline: Their squad needs help, part of the reason why interest in Wilfried Zaha and Ravel Morrison makes sense. With one player currently with Manchester United, the other having moved to West Ham two years ago, both young England talents would represent upgrades to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s club. Because of an escalator clause in his contract, West Ham may be forced to sell Morrison outright, something that could lead to a reunion with his former Red Devils coach.

One player that could potentially leave England is Lewis Holtby. Without a role with Spurs under Tim Sherwood, the Tottenham midfielder could make a return to the Bundesliga. Schalke are reportedly ready to take him back.

Now for the more spurious stuff: Arsenal want to pay big for Julian Draxler (but see him as a Van Persie-type?); Sunderland are trying to land Ignacio Scocco, as if they don’t have enough stickers; Liverpool in frame for Mohamed Salah, but potentially nothing else; Arsenal is looking into bringing Sebastian Giovinco over from Juventus; and Chelsea are ready to give Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett a chance to replace Petr Cech.

Okay – I made that last one up.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

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John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”