Maurice Edu’s introductory press conference in Philadelphia: Eager to “play every game, get stuck in”

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Fresh off his first training session as a member of the Philadelphia Union, midfielder Maurice Edu and two top Philadelphia front office men met with the media.

CEO Nick Sakiewicz and manager John Hackworth were on hand to talk with the media in a press conference that was a little different than your standard “Welcome this DP to America” talk. For one thing, there was the Union’s wrestling with MLS over Edu’s pay and the player’s not-so-sunny time spent in Europe to consider.

First, Edu, who wasn’t shy enough to admit, nor naive enough not to admit that, “the past couple years weren’t ideal. Obviously I would’ve like to play more.” He was asked about his frustrations after leaving a decent time with Rangers in Scotland to be little used by Stoke City and did not hesitate to say how badly he wanted to be an every-match player:

“It’s always frustrating as a player when you don’t play. In this game, you have to be mentally tough because it’s just full of ups and downs. One day you can be on a high, the next you can be on the worst spell of your career.

“Don’t get too down when you hit a low and at the same time when you’re on a high, just make sure you stay level-headed, you maintain a level of composure and a sense of humbleness.”

“I’m eager. This past couple years have been difficult and I haven’t put together a long stretch of games. I’m excited to come here and play, play every game. Do well, score goals, get stuck in on tackles, do all the things that I’m capable of doing.”

Sakiewicz danced around some questions a little bit, perhaps understandably so considering his team was ready to pay Edu a higher figure than MLS preferred. He mentioned that to sign three guys right after the season ended would’ve been foolish.

“We had to find the right guys and today I’m very excited to welcome Maurice to our club. It’s been a long, long journey and we’re delighted that he chose to come back from the Premier League.”

Manager John Hackworth’s excitement comes from working with Edu in the past.

“I had the good fortune of coaching Mo on the national team. He’ll be an integral part of our team moving forward. He knows the MLS well. He started his career here but he’s in his prime and I know how excited he is to be here.”

He also admitted the process of bringing him back was a trying experience.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” he said. “Anytime you go through a major acquisition of a player, especially bringing a national team back from Europe, there are so many things that have to happen right to make it a reality. You have to be patient.”

There was also a lot of talk about the progression of the league, as Edu spoke of the increasing reputation of MLS around Europe. Sakiewicz added that the league’s upward trending will only continue.

“If you think we’re having fun now, wait another 10 years,” Sakiewicz said. “This country’s really come a long way.”

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.