The Europa League quarterfinal draw was made on Friday, and fans of the U.S. national team will have one eye on promising striker Aron Johannsson.
The Icelandic-American forward has been handed a glitzy tie against Portuguese giants Benfica, as his AZ Alkmaar side have performed incredibly well to reach the last eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition.
Alkmaar host Benfica first on April 3, then travel to Lisbon to play in the Estadio da Luz against the two-time European champions on April 10. Benfica have now reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League in four of the last five seasons after beating Tottenham Hotspur in the last round.
Johannsson has had a stunning season for AZ, scoring 17 goals, and with the chance to test himself against one of the best teams left in the competition, the 23-year-old is set to have a large contingent of USMNT fans watching his every move next month.
Elsewhere favorites Juventus face French giants Lyon, and an extra incentive for the Turin based club is that the final is being played at Juve’s home stadium on May 14. FC Basel play Valencia, with both teams featuring prominently in the UEFA Champions League in recent season, while there’s also an Iberian battle between FC Porto and Sevilla which is sure to be a fiery encounter.
The first legs will be played on April 3, with the second legs on April 10. The teams listed first below will host the first legs.
Europa League quarterfinal draw
AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica
Lyon vs. Juventus
FC Basel vs. Valencia
FC Porto vs. Sevilla
Leaving Manchester City is proving difficult for longtime backstop Joe Hart.
The English No. 1 is heading out on loan to Torino after dropping down Pep Guardiola‘s depth chart at the Etihad Stadium after 348 appearances for City.
[ MORE: Deadline Day’s done deals ]
Hart needed to play, as he’s still in Sam Allardyce’s plans for England, and couldn’t wait around for a chance in Manchester.
That didn’t stop the 6-foot-5 keeper from a very emotional goodbye in his last City start, last week’s win over Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League.
Days later, the goalkeeper is trying to put it all into words, saying in a Facebook post that he will miss Manchester:
I am very grateful that Torino has given me this opportunity to play for their great club. But the feelings I felt during the recent Steaua Bucharest game will live with me forever. You can’t buy that and I will struggle to replicate them. So thank you for that and all the amazing memories.
Hart joins a Torino side with European aims, and is not the only big name loan on the books. Leandro Castan and Iago Falque have joined the Turin side from AS Roma.
AFC Bournemouth have secured the biggest signing in club history on Transfer Deadline Day.
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, 24, has signed for Bournemouth on a season-long loan deal at the Vitality Stadium.
Put your jaw back in its correct position.
[ LIVE: Every Deadline Day deal ]
Wilshere only became available on Tuesday after holding talks with Arsene Wenger and the outcome was that he wouldn’t get regular minutes with the Gunners this season.
The England international is a star talent and as soon as he became available over 22 teams registered their interest in taking him on loan. Three front-runners emerged early on Wednesday with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and AS Roma all keen on Wilshere.
However, tiny Bournemouth won the race in the Wilshere stakes to dish up the biggest shock of the transfer window so far.
This is a massive transfer coup for Bournemouth.
In only their second-ever season in the Premier League they have landed a star midfielder with vast UEFA Champions League and international experience.
Yes, Wilshere has a history of injuries but now he has the chance to prove everyone wrong and play in a sustained run of games for the Cherries (he was likely fifth or sixth on the depth chart in Arsenal’s midfield this season) as he aims to get his career back on track after several injury-hit seasons.
It is thought that Wilshere preferred playing for Bournemouth over the likes of Palace and Roma due to the style of play of Eddie Howe‘s side as the Arsenal academy product loves to pass and move the ball. He will fit in very nicely for the Cherries on the south coast and will become an instant hit with the Bournemouth faithful as his signing gives them a massive boost after a tough start to the season.
Nobody could’ve predict this move. The madness of Deadline Day lives on.
Tipped for several Premier League destinations, Islam Slimani has joined Algeria teammate Riyad Mahrez at Leicester City.
Slimani, 28, spent the last four seasons as Portuguese powerhouse Sporting Lisbon, scoring a career-best 31 goals last year.
[ MORE: Sissoko to Everton for medical]
He scored two his 23 international goals at the 2014 World Cup, netting against both South Korea and Russia.
Slimani said Mahrez helped with his decision:
He added: “My friend Riyad Mahrez spoke to me about the Club and about the atmosphere the Leicester fans create at King Power Stadium. I will give absolutely everything I have on the pitch for them and for my team-mates and I hope that together we can achieve something special.”
Get the jersey ready. Slimani, Mahrez, Vardy, and Musa could be a deadly bit of depth as Leicester strives to strike hard in the UEFA Champions League.
West Ham United has strengthened their flanks with the addition of two-time UEFA Champions League winner Alvaro Arbeloa.
The 33-year-old back played in the Premier League with Liverpool from 2006-09 before skipping town for Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Sissoko off to Everton for medical ]
Arbeloa has been with Real since, scoring six goals and making 233 total appearances. His appearance dipped to just nine last season, and he’ll finish his time at the Bernabeu with
He also was a part of Spain’s EURO-World Cup-EURO sandwich between 2008-2012.