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Report: Arsenal will not exercise buy-back clause on Barca’s Fabregas

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When Arsenal sold Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona in 2011, they made sure they’d get the first look at reacquiring him ahead of any rivals on the global stage by inserting a buy-back clause that was essentially a “right of first refusal” should Fabregas hit the transfer market.

Three years later, Arsene Wenger’s club has reportedly issued a “thanks but no thanks” on the clause, opting not to reacquire the 27-year-old playmaker. The move means a Premier League rival, or anyone else, can now swoop for the Spanish midfielder.

It also doesn’t completely mean an Arsenal reunion is out of the question should the asking price of approximately $50 million go down a bit, though it’s hard to think one of the deep-money clubs in Europe won’t dig out the cash for Fabregas, who was said to be keen on a North London return.

From the BBC:

The Spaniard, who started his career at Barcelona and still has two years of his existing contract to run, has been linked with Chelsea following the departure of Frank Lampard and his future is expected to be decided in the next two or three weeks.

On Thursday, his international team-mate Gerard Pique was caught on camera apparently telling Spain coach Vicente del Bosque that ‘he [Fabregas] told me that it is already done, he is leaving already, 33m euros he said’, but the pair are thought to have been joking.

Fabregas was the subject of two unsuccessful bids from Manchester United last summer and told BBC Sport in February he was “flattered” by their interest.

He is part of the Spain squad set to begin their defence of the World Cup against the Netherlands on 13 June.

So where do you think Fabregas winds up? Is he set to stay at Barcelona, to move to Chelsea or Manchester United, or is there a wild card out there in France, Italy, Spain or England?

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.