Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is more than a little surprised at the reports that Spanish star Juan Mata will be leaving Chelsea for a direct competitor in Manchester United.
Wenger’s also doubting the fairness of the move, as Chelsea’s already faced Manchester United twice and will not have to face Mata (while the move hands the Red Devils a boost ahead of a visit to Wenger’s Gunners on Feb. 12).
Some are reading into the following quotes as his calling for the Premier League to look into its fixture-scheduling in the future, as well as seemingly the role the January window plays in the season?
“United could have sold him last week but it opens at least the dates of this transfer window. Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and some others not and I think if you want to respect the fairness for everybody – exactly the same – that should not happen.
“I wouldn’t go as far as that, [Chelsea selling Mata to do damage to rivals]. I just think you would want that everybody is at the same level. I can understand completely what Chelsea are doing, it’s within the rules but maybe the rules should be adapted for fairness.”
Color me a cynic, but is he not saying, “Why do we have to face Juan Mata while Chelsea doesn’t have to worry about him at all?”
Wenger also said Arsenal’s lack of any transfers cooking at this late stage in January coupled with his squad’s health make any new talent coming to the Emirates during the January transfer window unlikely.
“We have Chamberlain back, Bendtner back and I hope next week Arteta and Ramsey back, so I feel overall we have the squad needed. We have Yaya Sanogo coming back into the squad next week as well.
“Overall we have a very strong squad. If something exceptional turns up we will do it but having said that not everybody will strengthen. They buy, but buy does not always mean strengthen.”
So, no Draxler then? Arsenal hosts Coventry City on Friday night for the club’s FA Cup fourth-round tie before visiting Southampton on Tuesday. With suspensions, appointments and injuries, the Saints have plenty of news of their own this morning…
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
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The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
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Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.