Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Fernandinho’s return could give Man City huge boost ahead of Barcelona clash

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He may not be the most glamorous player adorning Manchester City’s star-studded roster, but many would argue he’s the most important.

Defensive midfielder Fernandinho has been badly missed from the heart of City’s midfield since he was injured back in January. The 28-year-old suffered a thigh injury, and has missed the last three games which has seen City go on a bit of a wobble.

But on Monday the former Shakhtar Donetsk star trained with the rest of City’s squad at the Etihad Stadium, ahead of Tuesday’s massive UEFA Champions League clash against Barcelona and he will be in the squad of 18 for the home tie against City’s Spanish opponents.

If Fernandinho does start in the first leg of the eagerly-anticipated last 16 tie, City’s chances of progressing could increase considerably.

(MORE: Pellegrini: “I don’t have any fear about facing Barcelona”)

When the Brazilian midfielder has been missing this season, City have failed to score in four of five PL games as 64 of City’s 68 goals have come in his 20 starts. His absence isn’t the only reason City have failed to score in their last two PL games, but he does play a massive part in the City machine, as Fernandinho breaks up play and tidies up the midfield with ease as his terrific engine allows him to motor around the center of the pitch and win back possession for Manuel Pellegrini’s team.

That will be key against Barca’s midfield trio of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquets who often dominate possession and are allowed to feed the likes Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro. If Fernandinho does return to City’s lineup on Tuesday, his main job will be to cut off that supply line and win the ball back so City can attack.

(MORE: Convincing results show La Liga trio ready for UEFA Champions League)

He is unselfish and does the dirty work that allows the likes of Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas, Alvaro  Negredo, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure to pile forward and score the shed load of goals which City have done to devastating effect this season. They are already way past the 100 marker and counting, and despite not scoring many Fernandinho is key to that.

Against Barcelona on Tuesday, City will be missing their top goalscorer Aguero. But having Fernandinho back fit and ready to roll is arguably even more important than having Aguero on the pitch. That’s saying something.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.

Palmer-Brown heads U.S. U-20s to win over Mexico (video)

Erik Palmer-Brown
@ussoccer_ynt
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The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.

Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops again ]

The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.

The U.S. took that lead into halftime.

Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.

Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.