As the Vancouver Whitecaps head across the country to take on New England, captain Jay DeMerit is not with them.
With the 34-year-old defender coming off an injury-plagued few years, coach Carl Robinson has mapped out a specific plan for the season with predetermined waypoints set as moments DeMerit and others could be rested.
“When I took the job, obviously, it was a case of – I’ve got three 34-year-olds within my squad, Jay, Andy (O’Brien), and Kenny (Miller)” Robinson said.
“So I mapped out a plan of what I wanted, and how I thought I could best protect these guys because it is a 34 game season – regular season, plus playoffs, plus Canadian cup.”
With the team heading a long distance away to play a struggling New England squad, it makes sense that Robinson would select this fixture to rest DeMerit.
In addition, the Whitecaps have three home games in their next four matches, so leaving DeMerit home seriously limits his travel requirements in the coming month.
Another possible fixture that could be tabbed as a rest date for the older players could be a trip to Philadelphia on June 7. It’s the club’s only other trip to the east coast in the first four months of the season.
Robinson said he wasn’t sure who would be the man to replace DeMerit in the back line, but possibilities include Johnny Leveron, Christian Dean, and Carlyle Mitchell. Leveron is recovering off a concussion which caused him to miss last weekend’s draw with Chivas.
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal is still looking for the right big names to join the club, but defender Per Mertesacker seems ready to battle without additions.
The big German defender was quite outspoken when it comes to the club’s second place finish in the 2015-16 Premier League, saying it was a “miracle” they finished that high.
[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]
Mertesacker, 31, notes the giant clubs who finished behind Arsenal on the PL table, and that several of those competitors have made big pick-ups in the transfer market.
From The Sun:
“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.
“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”
Arsenal has added Granit Xhaka and English U-21 back Rob Holding, but patience seems thin amongst Gooners across the globe. Are Mertesacker’s comments a hint that the players aren’t expecting much?
Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi both spent some time as potential Arsenal players in the summer rumor mills, but will the former’s move to Juventus keep the latter from the Emirates Stadium?
As we wait for official confirmation that Juventus has purchased Higuain from Napoli for $103 million, it seems Napoli is aiming to replace him with Icardi. Football Italia says Inter has rejected an offer of $22 million plus Manolo Gabbiadini that would send Icardi to Naples.
[ MORE: Messi back, blonde at Barca ]
Gabbiadini has 20 goals in 60 matches for Napoli, but Icardi is among the hottest properties in the world. The 23-year-old Argentine is signed through 2019, and the fee is obviously going to be quite high, but Napoli is ready to spend money that others may not.
Many players have been rumored for the “fourth chair” behind Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez in the Barcelona attack orchestra, but could the issue be settled with a reserve from Atletico Madrid?
Luciano Vietto, 22, is being linked with a $24 million move from the Vicente Calderon to the Camp Nou. AS says personal terms are the only obstacle remaining, and Vietto would have a lot to prove in Barcelona. After belting 20 goals for Valencia in 2014-15, Vietto found the net just thrice in 28 matches last season.
Atleti could use that money, according to Marca, as Diego Simeone’s bunch reportedly believes it can pry Diego Costa from Chelsea. The Brazilian-born Spanish international has massive success at Atleti before moving to North London, and Simeone has not quit on the idea of bringing him back “home”.
Also, we’re just going to leave this right here, with the lone add-on that Aaron Schoenfeld is tearing it up for Maccabi’s rival.
Lionel Messi is back with Barcelona a week earlier than expected, as the Camp Nou set prepares to defend another La Liga title.
That means Messi will be on the roster for the International Champions Cup, as Barcelona is slated to play Celtic, Leicester City, and Liverpool.
[ MORE: Manchester Derby in China on Monday ]
That’s not the only surprise from the 29-year-old, who has pulled an Aaron Ramsey and dramatically altered his ‘do.
Glad to have him back on our screens a bit earlier than planned, and — although I’m far from a style icon — I’ll be just as glad when the blonde grows/washes out of his head.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s long summer has earned him an extended vacation, but the knee injury he suffered in the EURO 2016 Final would’ve kept him from this season’s first big club match anyway.
The 31-year-old star will not be available for the Aug. 9 UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla, saying he’ll be back in the mix just one day later.
[ MORE: Discussing Yedlin’s future ]
Ronaldo also said he’s going to speak with the club about extending his contract, which runs through the 2017-18 season. He’s very been vocal about his desire to finish his career at the Bernabeu, and will put pen to paper in order to prove it.
From Sky Sports:
“I spoke to the president on the phone and when I get to Madrid, we will talk about it.
“Obviously it’s something I want, I have mentioned it many times, and the club also wants it. But we only spoke briefly, and there will be more concrete things to come.”
No surprises here, though it would’ve been nice to have Ronaldo on our screens for the match-up between his Champions League winners and the Europa League champions.