Mauricio Pochettino open to discussing move to Tottenham

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The Guardian is reporting that Southampton manager, Mauricio Pochettino, is open to discussing the possibility of a move to White Hart Lane with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

Following the sacking of Tim Sherwood on Tuesday, the ninth manager of Levy’s 13 year stint, the rumor in Spurs camp is that Pochettino has emerged as the favorite to take over at the club. The 42-year-old Argentine, who has been at Southampton since replacing Nigel Adkins in January 2013, has one year remaining on his contract at St. Mary’s.

His stint on the south coast has been widely hailed across the Premier League. After helping the Saints steer clear of relegation in 2012/13, Pochettino guided the club to an 8th place finish this past season, wowing audiences along the way with a high-pressure, entertaining style of play.

Individually, Pochettino has done wonders in development of the players taking Adam Lallana to new heights and introducing the world to the skillful, sure-footed man-child that is left-back Luke Shaw. He is also credited with getting the most out of front-man Rickie Lambert, who is now in the England fold, and Jay Rodriguez, who looked destined for Brazil before a tragic ACL tear derailed his season.

Underneath Southampton’s success, however, is the smell of a sinking ship. The man widely hailed with Southampton’s rise to the Premier League, Nicola Cortese, resigned as club chairman this past spring amidst reports of discord with owner Katharina Liebherr. The loss of Cortese, the man responsible for bringing in Pochettino despite his status as a relative unknown in the managerial world, was one many feared would trigger a chain reaction of loss throughout the club.

That’s exactly what now appears to be happening, starting with Pochettino. Making matters worse, both Lallana and Shaw have informed Southampton of their desire to consider offers from Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively. It’s a troubling scenario, especially considering Pochettino currently has final say over all transfers at the club.

There’s little question that Pochettino could do wonders at a club like Tottenham, with its significant cash flow and player pool. Where it will leave Southampton who just three years ago were in League One, however, is the issue and one that Ms. Liebherr would do well to address as soon as possible.

 

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.