International Friendly - France v Netherlands

Louis Van Gaal wants Kevin Strootman at Manchester United

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Might Kevin Strootman be patrolling the Manchester United midfield next season?

The midfielder’s agent, Chiel Dekker, admitted knowledge of the Dutch manager’s admiration on Wednesday, saying “[Strootman] is of interest to Louis van Gaal but not related to Manchester United at this point.”

Dekker continued his resistance throughout the course of his interview, noting on six different occasions that no deal has been struck due to Strootman’s on-going commitment to Roma.

From The Guardian:

He won’t be back playing until autumn – that’s the time schedule at the moment. He is of interest to Louis van Gaal but not related to Manchester United at this point… He’s in Rome and he had a terrific season. There has been nothing between the clubs or between Louis and Kevin – they know each other and like each other but at this stage it’s not related to Man United.

Roma do not want to sell. The first thing is it’s all between the clubs. And it’s also a very difficult decision because he has to choose between a fantastic club in Rome, a club that bought him and supported him while he was injured and [then] you have his personal coach of the national team at United.

The clubs have to decide. He’s very happy at Rome, he’s happy to stay because they play Champions League next season and happy to recover [from] his injury, so at this stage we are not part of any discussion.

Great devotion by Dekker to Roma, there. But isn’t it all for show? Very well could be. After all, few people know how to plant seeds better than slick-talking agents, especially ones of injured players whose skills nevertheless remain in high demand.

Which is exactly the case with Strootman, who is recovering from a serious knee injury that’s keeping him out of the World Cup and away from the pitch until next fall. All indications are that Strootman will return to Rome for the beginning of the Serie A season before possibly moving to United in the January transfer window.

A lot can happen between now and then. United are currently in the market for a number of center midfielders including Ander Herrer, Cesc Fabregas, Jordy Claise and Bastian Schweinsteiger, among others. The addition of any of these men could affect the likelihood of a move for Strootman, although Van Gaal could make additional room by selling off the likes of Tom Cleverley and/or Marouane Fellaini, who endured difficult seasons in 2013/14.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Pardew saves his job, says Palace owners “don’t know a lot about football”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Alan Pardew, Manager of Crystal Palace thumbs up prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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While some may advise that keeping a low profile would best suit Alan Pardew right now, Crystal Palace’s embattled manager is of a totally different mindset.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, in which Pardew’s side saved his job (for the time being), the 55-year-old Eagles boss and former player chose the first bright moment, Palace’s first Premier League win since Sept. 24, to hit out at the club’s new American owners with a scathing assessment of the footballing prowess, or perhaps lack thereof — quotes from the Guardian:

“The chairman got a bit edgy this week, as you’d expect. We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football so the chairman has been defending me.

“I always think as a manager at any level, particularly in the modern era, expect the sack. Just expect it; it’s coming at some stage, so just do your job as best you can. Every week, that’s what I try to do.

“Sometimes it’s hard to dress up six defeats when you’re the owner of the club and you have investors. Obviously there are things he’s got no control over but he’s tried to offer me all the assistance that he could. He’s been brilliant for me and I just want to say thank you to him really.”

With various reports linking Sam Allardyce and Roberto Mancini to a job which he still holds, it’s understandable that Pardew would be slightly on edge, quick to thump his chest and restake his claim as the right man for the job, but perhaps alienating and borderline embarrassing the new investors, who are now responsible for signing your paychecks, wouldn’t have been my go-to move.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

On the other hand, as Pardew rightly stated in the above quotes, his day of reckoning will eventually arrive, so what’s he really got to lose?