it’s January. The team you just bought is sitting in the relegation zone, in danger of slipping down into the Championship. Parachute payments aren’t going to help you recoup your investment. What do you do?
Well, bring in a bunch of players during the winter transfer window, of course. That’s just what Fulham did, bringing in cover at midfield, experience at the back and a returning hero in Clint Dempsey. Then, when the Cottagers still couldn’t win a game, it was out with René Meulensteen and in with Felix Magath, the second managerial change of the season. The new coach secured a draw against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion last time out, but Fulham remain dead last.
Which is why it comes as something of a surprise that Magath has announced that Konstantinos Mitroglou, secured from Olympiakos for a hefty £12m, won’t even make the bench when Chelsea come to town on Saturday afternoon. You’d think that the Premier League’s bottom side would want all their resources available in an attempt to thwart the leaders, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Mitroglou made an appearance last week against West Brom, coming on as a substitute, and managed to impress in a stint with Fulham’s U21 side. At first it was thought that Magath would leave him out because he’s still not yet fit enough – he came to Fulham carrying an injury – but now, it seems, the coach believes the Greek isn’t ready to handle the intensity of the Premier League.
The mystery deepens when you consider the fact that Magath himself did say that Mitroglou is fit enough to play 30 minutes. With his reputation as a finisher, combined with Darren Bent’s increasingly dismal reputation in that area, it seems he’d be valuable to have on the bench. But Mitroglou needs work before he’ll play again, the Fulham manager says.
£12m is a lot to spend on a player that’s not even going to warm the bench. But if Magath manages to outwit the visiting José Mourinho, questions about the intelligence of this decision will likely be pushed to the back burner.
Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.
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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.
According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.
Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.
The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.
Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.
The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.
Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.
[ MORE: Saints wallop Leicester in complete effort ]
Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.
Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.
“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”
The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.
With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.
[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win ]
According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.
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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.
NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.
MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.
If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).
In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.
Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.
[ MORE: Chelsea goes eight points clear at top of PL ]
The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
[ MORE: Xhaka’s red card makes him most sent-off player in Europe ]
It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.
Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.
“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.
“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”
While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.