Mourinho on Mata transfer: heaps praise on player, lambastes Wenger for criticism

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Both the gracious and venomous qualities of Jose Mourinho’s way with words have been on display when it comes to Juan Mata’s expected transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United.

The Chelsea manager has not hesitated to praise his soon-to-be former player nor take some shots at Arsene Wenger for his criticism of the big money transfer.

But first, his comments on the player:

“We’ve allowed Juan to travel and have a medical at Manchester United, sooner rather than later things will be finalized.

 

“He is a fantastic player, in spite of not playing much for us. I still think he can be an important player for us, the offer we have received (believed to be around $61 million) we feel is the right offer for the quality of the player. It’s a good move for Juan, a good move for the Premier League and the offer is the right offer. He was fantastic for Chelsea and Chelsea were fantastic for him.”

He hasn’t been shy about praising Mata in the past, although it usually came with a caveat like “Yeah but if they’d only let me start 12 players, he could start.” Mourinho also pointed out that they’ll honor and respect Mata when he does return to Stamford Bridge.

Which, of course, will not be this year, as Arsene Wenger’s been quick to point out in his criticism of the transfer window. Commenters on this site weren’t hesitant to laugh off Wenger’s thoughts that Mata’s transfer was unfair because Chelsea won’t have to face Mata (and by extension, that the Gunners will).

Mourinho, too, was not hesitant. Independent on Sunday football writer Miguel Delaney tweeted the following quotes from Mourinho’s press conference:

– “Wenger complaining is normal because he always does. It’s something we know.”

– “If Wenger sells Ozil to Man United in this moment, I will be very happy, because he’s selling a very important player…”

– “Normally, [Wenger] should be very happy Chelsea is selling a player like Mata but this is his nature. We have to accept way he is.”

– “Wenger says this is not fair but what is not fair is that his team always has the best days to play.”

– “When you go to the fixtures during the season, it’s never fair because [Arsenal] always get the right times to play, to rest.”

Answer complaints about unfairness by calling the complainer a complainer, and then complaining: The. Special. One.

Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.

Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.

Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.

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“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.

“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.

The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.

Pele hospitalized overnight in Brazil

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The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”

Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.

“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”

Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.

[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]

USMNT centerback Carter-Vickers heads to Ipswich Town on loan

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Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.

Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.

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Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.

There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.