Mike Magee-Chicago 4

Major League Soccer MVP Mike Magee still holding out in Chicago


For a guy barely recognizable to most domestic soccer fans through most of his professional career, Mike Magee sure has made a lot of news over the last few months.

His inspirational goal-scoring tear nearly rescued an entire club’s season, his big run at the Golden Boot, his involvement in the high profile Robbie Rogers trade, his ability to land league MVP honors on a club that didn’t even make the playoffs (a rare feat) and a growing call for U.S. national team attention meant 2013 was a year the domestic soccer world at large gained far greater awareness of the versatile midfielder-forward.

And now, we are hearing about Magee for some less benign reasons.

We don’t see the word “holdout” too often in Major League Soccer, but here we are.

Long story short: the team is in Tucson – Magee isn’t.

Even if holding out as a negotiating tactic remains a seldom-deployed weapon in the MLS man’s typical arsenal, it really cannot surprise anyone in Magee’s case. This piece from last December cleverly noted that the league’s reigning MVP, at a salary of close to $200,000 and signed up through 2015, is making about the same money as an Olive Garden manager. (Note to self: look into career opportunities at Olive Garden, as they apparently pay far better than journalism.)

The team did acquire allocation money from Philadelphia on Monday in the trade that sent young defender Austin Berry to the brotherly land of the cheesesteak. So perhaps something is in the works to increase the man’s wages while also buying down some of the salary cap hit.

By the way, the team says officially that Magee is taking some personal time. And if you believe that, you probably will never make it as an Olive Garden manager. Because those guys and girls are apparently pretty sharp.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?