Report: David Villa the next big name heading to MLS?

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Digging around the rumor mill, some interesting news regarding Spanish international and current Atletico Madrid forward David Villa has surfaced.

Turns out Villa could be heading to Major League Soccer this summer, as Atletico continue to stall on a new contract extension for the 32-year-old former Valencia and FC Barcelona striker, who still has two years left on his initial deal after arriving at the Vicente Calderon last summer.

Villa, the Spanish national team’s all-time leading goalscorer, has shaken off several injury-plagued campaigns to fire in 13 goals in 26 games for Atletico this season but, according to reports, his manager Diego Simeone is willing to let Villa leave after the season ends.

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These reports surface from Spanish publication Marca, and have cropped up elsewhere, but do be warned, in MLS circles such stories are taken with a hefty pinch of salt. As is often the case with aging, yet hugely talented, superstars in Europe, Villa has been linked with MLS almost by association with this glittering career entering its twilight. Let’s see if any of the ‘number of MLS clubs interested’ are actually ready to stump up big Designated Player cash for Villa, before we get too excited.

Will this move ever come off? Who knows. But then again, look at the likes of Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and Obafemi Martins. Rumors about those three predatory strikers persisted for months before their moves to MLS came off. What I do know, is that if Villa does make the switch to MLS, he would be a sensation.

The diminutive forward will likely play an important role for Spain in this summer’s World Cup, as they look to retain their title from 2010 when Villa scored five goals and was the tournament’s top scorer. With his future seemingly unresolved, could New York City FC or the re-branded Chivas USA franchise be a potential home for Villa after this summer? Let’s wait and see what happens, as Spain’s leading marksmen, apparently, contemplates a move Stateside.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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