It’s a question that at first blush feels wild, almost absurd: could Toronto FC forward Bright Dike make his way onto the Nigeria roster for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil?
Could a player whose played for three American clubs in four years — and didn’t make his Nigerian senior team bow until he was 25 — be in Stephen Keshi’s plans for the Super Eagles time on the world’s biggest stage?
He’s cleared another hurdle, making the roster for Nigeria’s March 5 friendly on American soil against Mexico. Dike, he of the seven strikes in 30 MLS appereances, is one of eight listed forwards on the roster but one of only a select few true strikers.
Of those forwards, several have a more pronounced pedigree than Dike. Newcastle United veteran Shola Ameobi has broken back into the Keshi’s squad, while Obinna Nsofor (Chievo Verona) and Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce) have shown well. Michael Uchebo and Imoh Ezekiel have yet to play for the senior team.
Some usual suspects are outside the squad: Obafemi Martins and his 18 international goals won’t be there, nor will Dynamo Kyiv’s Brown Ideye.
So it seems this is a legit opportunity for Dike to impress and not just a cursory look. Dike scored against Italy in November and has one goal in two official caps. He also scored in an unofficial match against Catalonia.
In a statement of intent, Tottenham is reportedly preparing to bring in one of the Premier League’s most electrifying wingers.
The Times in London reports that Spurs are set to offer Crystal Palace a $70 million transfer fee to sign Wilfried Zaha, bringing the Ivory Coast international back to a big six club for the first time since 2014. Zaha famously was the last signing of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, but by the time the now-25-year-old arrived, David Moyes was the manager and Zaha never found a place in the Man United first team.
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Since returning, Zaha has found his form and this season has four goals and an assist for Crystal Palace in 20 Premier League matches as the club is now treading water above the relegation zone. Last season, Zaha scored seven goals and dished out nine assists in 34 starts in the league.
Zaha’s potential signing likely means either a change in formation or the departure of either or both Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela, both who play on Zaha’s preferred left side regularly.
The report states that the signing could be a way to galvanize some of the supporters for next season in which the club will play in the re-built White Hart Lane.
Josh Sargent’s 18th birthday is one he’ll never forget.
The young American phenom was finally able to sign his first professional contract on Tuesday after turning 18-years old, passing the FIFA threshold for when a foreigner can sign a pro contract. Sargent has been training with Werder Bremen’s youth teams for the last few months and has even trained with the first team and featured for the Werder Bremen U23s.
“We’ve gone over all the formalities and Josh signed his professional contract with us earlier,” Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann said on Tuesday afternoon. “Again, we’re delighted he decided to join us. He’s settled in brilliantly since the turn of the year.”
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Sargent will continue to train with the youth teams and reserves, and will be eligible to feature for the Werder Bremen first team for the 2018-2019 season.
After making a number of moves to improve its attack this offseason, Orlando City SC is now splashing the cash to improve its backline.
The club announced on Tuesday the signing of veteran centerback Lamine Sane from Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on a permanent deal. It appears that with less than six months left on his contract and Sane not in Werder Bremen manager Florian Kohfeldt’s plans, he was allowed to leave on a free transfer.
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“Lamine will significantly strengthen our back line,” Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic said in a statement. “He brings tremendous experience at the highest levels of European football and we believe he will fit right in with what we’re trying to build in Orlando.”
Sane started 27 times for Werder Bremen during a struggling 2016-2017 season, but had made just 11 appearances this season for the Bundesliga side. He’s also made 25 caps for Senegal, but the French-born defender hasn’t appeared for them since 2015. Perhaps a good start to the season in MLS could get him a surprise spot in the World Cup squad.
The 30-year-old joins a rebuilt starting lineup featuring other veterans as Orlando City looks to win in the near term, after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs.
While the team lost Cyle Larin and Kaka in the offseason, Jason Kreis and co. brought in Dom Dwyer late in the 2017 season, Justin Meram, Josue Colman, Uri Rosell and Sacha Kljestan in the offseason. Along with a couple of new outside backs, Sane is the first signing to shore up the leaky middle of the park for Orlando, one that the club’s fans hope will lead Orlando City to a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference in the least in 2018.
Barcelona has again beaten out its league and global rivals for the next up and coming Brazilian star.
According to a report from Brazilian publication Globo Esporte, Barcelona has agreed with Gremio on a $49.4 million transfer fee for midfielder Arthur. The deal would see 60 percent of the fee go to Gremio and the rest to agents and the owners of part of the player’s rights.
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The 21-year-old’s deal is still subject to the standard medical tests, and wouldn’t go through until January 2019.
Arthur broke onto the scene as a permanent member of the Gremio first team in 2017, starting 27 league matches and nine times in the Copa Libertadores as a dominant holding midfielder.
Barcelona will likely look for him to play a similar role to countryman Paulinho or Sergio Busquets, controlling the tempo of the game with passing but also being able to quickly snuff out an attack.
Arthur created controversy in December when he was photographed wearing a Barcelona shirt. It was around then that news began to leak that Barcelona began negotiations for his services. According to other news reports, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Inter Milan were also interested in Arthur’s services.