Young Team of the World Cup: Dutch future is very bright

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Who fits into a Starting XI of the best young players of the World Cup? Following the PFA young player of the year format of players aged 23-and-under to start a season or tournament, it’s a pretty tricky undertaking.

For example, Enner Valencia of Colombia, Toni Kroos of Germany and Hector Herrera of Mexico are 24- and 25-years-old, as are several other “new” superstars of the tournament.

We’ll do this thing by the rules though:

GK- Thibaut Courtois, 22 (Belgium) — We already knew he was very good, but he could win the award by default due to the lack of goalkeepers starting for World Cup teams at his age. Then again, doesn’t that say enough in itself?

D- Stefan de Vrij, 22 (Netherlands) — How’s this for a fun fact: de Vrij and Martins Indi (below) were born three days apart in February 1992. They could form the nucleus of a Dutch team that comes back strong in 2018.

[ MORE from our 2014 World Cup review ]

D- Faouzi Ghoulam, 23 (Algeria) — Only played in a pair of games, but it wasn’t a tremendous tournament for young defenders. Still, the French-born Napoli star did a good job in Algeria’s near-upset of the eventual champions.

D- DeAndre Yedlin, 21 (United States) — The super sub may find his true calling as a true winger, but Yedlin made his mark on the tournament with darting runs and key passes. One to watch.

M- Neymar, 22 (Brazil) — Only near-paralysis could stop the youngster. It’s incredible to think he’s just 22, especially considering the heat he received before the tournament for “not being a superstar“.

M- Andre Schurrle, 23 (Germany) — To be his age and capable of the crosses he made in this tournament… wow.

M- Bruno Martins Indi, 22 (Netherlands) — A bulldog who’s mature and headstrong enough to mess with Arjen Robben in training, the future is extra bright for Martins Indi.

M- Paul Pogba, 21 (France) — Maybe Sir Alex quit on the kid a little too early?

F- Ahmed Musa, 21 (Nigeria) — His pair of equalizers against Argentina came in a massive match, extra packed with pressure. The Super Eagles still made it through despite losing 3-2, but perhaps a star was born.

F- Memphis Depay, 20 (Netherlands) — Memphis just turned 20 in February, and announced his arrival to the world by scoring his first two international goals against Australia and Chile.

F- James Rodriguez, 23 (Colombia) — James just turned 23 on July 12, and we have a feeling we’ll hear much more from him soon. After all, he was also our surprise player of the tournament.

Barcelona’s Twitter hacked to claim Di Maria signing

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FC Barcelona had eyeballs popping across the Twitterverse for a solid 90 seconds there.

La Liga’s giants Tweeted out a welcome to Angel Di Maria, the current PSG and former Real Madrid star, with the hashtag #DiMariaFCB.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

It was an odd Tweet for 4 a.m. local time, as humourously pointed out by our Andy Edwards, and the hackers were quick to claim credit before any Tweets could be deleted.

So if someone tells you Angel Di Maria is the latest member of Barcelona, be sure to stop the spread of fake news.

On a day where Barca’s reportedly ready to up their bid for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, something tells us someone at the Camp Nou is turning over their keys to the club’s social media.

Rescheduled Yankees game moves NYCFC-Houston to Connecticut

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A rescheduled New York Yankees game is moving New York City FC to Connecticut.

Relax, it’s only for a day.

NYCFC will entertain the Houston Dynamo at Rentschler Field at 3 p.m. on Sept. 23 instead of their regular home of Yankee Stadium.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

The club will offer tickets to another match to current ticket holders, and will also discount tickets to the game in East Hartford for fans who hold tickets to the Yankee Stadium game and want to travel for the Dynamo match (More info here, if you are in either of those camps).

This is the third of three scheduled seasons NYCFC will play at Yankee Stadium, and it doesn’t look like it’ll find a new home any time soon.

Given the everyday nature of Major League Baseball, it’s surprising there have not been more conflicts for NYCFC. We just remain hopeful for the day we can watch NYC’s star-studded roster play on a bigger home field.

“Injustice.” “Incomprehensible.” Ronaldo again protests suspension

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The five-game suspension Cristiano Ronaldo received for making contact with an official is not sitting well with the forward.

Better put: it’s still not sitting well.

Six days ago, Ronaldo took to Instagram to say he was being persecuted after his red card in the Spanish Super Cup.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Tuesday afternoon, he kept up the strong words by saying the suspension is “incomprehensible” and “an injustice.”

Roughly translated, Ronaldo posted, “One more incomprehensible decision. From injustice to injustive, they will never overcome me. And as always I will come back stronger. Thank you to all who have supported me.”

We’ll say this: He’s a really good soccer player.

Barca to offer Liverpool $176M for Coutinho

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Barcelona is insane.

Desperate following a rough two-legged loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the Blaugranas are reportedly ready to offer $176 million to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho.

Read it again: $176 million for Philippe Coutinho. It’s about $126 million with $12 million more when Barca clinches a UCL spot over the next four seasons (which they have done every year since finishing sixth in 2002-03).

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Even in this transfer market, that’s nuts. Crazy to offer, and maybe even crazier not to accept.

That’s pretty much two-thirds of the Neymar money. Two-thirds (I keep repeating myself with this story)

It’s even a convenient out for Jurgen Klopp, who’s said Liverpool is not a selling club. Here, he can say with a straight face that the club can improve with this money by selling a player who has — and I recognize it’s not all about goals and assists — one double-digit goal season in his career and a career single-season high of seven PL assists (done thrice).

Almost anyone who’s had the audacity to say the Reds should accept the bid has often been shot down by the Anfield faithful online. “It’ll ruin our season” and “How do we replace him this late?” are the common cries.

To the first question: No, it won’t. To the second: Easy?

It’s not like-for-like, but nearly every player in the world is available for $176 million. It’s not like-for-like, but here’s a short list: Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale, Paulo Dybala, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus… Shoot! Klopp could sign 2-3 of his favorite BVB alums.

With this fee, Coutinho would become the second-highest transfer fee of all-time, behind only Neymar. There are makeweights Barcelona could offer that would make the deal even more intriguing to the Reds: Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez.

Look at it from a neutral’s eyes — which I know is hard from the number of times I’ve read @ Tweets that say, “The only people who would like this deal are fans of Chelsea or United!” — at some point, it becomes unreasonable to not take advantage of Barcelona’s desperation. Maybe Coutinho is worth the “fit” for Barca, but rejecting this fee is more illogical than the offer itself.

At the risk of inflaming every more Liverpool supporters, Ross Barkley is probably going to cost someone $35 million and he’s a year and a half younger (Coutinho is a superior player right now, but we’re talking about the market here).

And, lastly, at some point you’re telling your entire team room that you’re willing to turn down near record money — it would be the highest non-buyout clause transfer ever — to keep a player from his dream club.

Take the money. Use it. Move on.