Report: David Beckham looks to bring Xavi to Miami, as glitzy rumors continue

2 Comments

Last week it was Cristiano Ronaldo, this week it’s Xavi. Who’s next… Lionel Messi?

It seems ever since David Beckham ponied up the cash earlier this month, along with his band of wealthy investors, to set up Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise in Miami, there’s been rumors galore of world class players arriving with a pair of boots under one arm and a sun hat on.

Plenty of unrealistic targets have been mentioned, but when you start to think about Miami joining the league in 2017, and the age of those targets in three years time, a few of these rumors turn into ‘well… maybe that could happen?”

In the case of Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona’s heartbeat in midfield for over a decade, you could argue that when you start to connect the dots, things start to make sense. Reports suggest the 34-year-old Spanish international has been sounded out by Miami and is receptive to a move to Florida, if his legs still allow him to get around the pitch.

Of course this isn’t the first time Xavi has been linked with MLS, oh no. Remember a few months ago when he was linked with New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls? Yeah, Xavi brushed those rumors aside and stated he’d never spoken to anybody about the move and was happy to see out his playing days at the Nou Camp with Barcelona. Can you blame him?

But if ‘Big bucks Beckham’ came calling and the likes of Ronaldo were also on board, it wouldn’t be a bad place to play out the final few years of your career. Plus, Xavi’s contract with Barcelona runs out in 2016, so that would slot in quite perfectly with a move to MLS for the start of the 2017 season when Miami are expected to join.

(MORE: So much for those Xavi-MLS-New York City FC murmurs)

Xavi is one of those players, despite all the rumors, who could play until he is 40. Like Paul Scholes, Andrea Pirlo and countless other midfield maestros, the pace of the game never seems to catch up with Xavi. A general of the tiki-taka approach, Xavi has inspired a generation of midfield players and if Miami has the chance to get him on board, whatever the cost, I think they should do it for at least two seasons.

Some MLS fans would scoff at yet another foreign import joining the league in their twilight. I agree, some of the decent European players who have come to MLS to see out their careers just haven’t been good enough. But when it comes to players of Xavi’s caliber, I’m talking David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane, then they will always improve the standard of play in the league.

Not to mention the commercial benefits they bring, along with increased exposure for the franchise. So if Becks does land Xavi, it’s a win, win for everyone concerned. I’d be surprised if it happens. But with Beckham pulling the strings, you just never know.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

Ian Walton/Getty Images
2 Comments

Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.