Report: Matt Besler considering Fulham, Sunderland among 10 European options

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According to MLSsoccer.com’s Greg Seltzer, USMNT central defender Matt Besler is a very, very wanted man and could make his decision on his next club by Monday, if not sooner.

Seltzer reports that Besler has an offer on the table from recently-relegated Fulham, and is also being looked at by Sunderland, although the Premier League club has not yet extended an official offer.

In total, there are 10 clubs that Seltzer says are at “various levels of monitoring/interest/offer talks” with Besler, although he would only reveal a certain number of interested parties.

Seltzer’s report said that one of the clubs is in the Bundesliga but would not reveal the club, however the report states the club is unlikely to pay the price tag. He did report a few days ago that the club is not Freiburg, as was reported in German paper KickerBesler’s name is no longer mentioned in that report, but his name remains in the URL for the story, indicating that Kicker may have gone back on their report, which would support Seltzer’s claim.

It’s hinted that the other nine are in England, with “a clear majority” of them in the Premier League.  US teammate Jozy Altidore is currently on the books at Sunderland, who staged a late comeback last season to avoid relegation.

Sporting KC has been resigned to losing Besler for a while, especially after his stellar performance in the World Cup for the United States.

As far as price tag goes, Sporting Kansas City s reportedly looking for a club record transfer out fee, in the range of the $5 or $6 million that Eddie Johnson fetched when he transferred to Fulham in 2008.

source:
Shad Khan (middle) introduces himself to Matt Besler (right) in Jacksonville during US training ahead of their match with Nigeria.

While Seltzer says Besler’s decision will be announced by Monday (what he calls a “hard deadline”), Twitter account @MLSTransfers says Besler’s decision has already been made and we will “know more” by tomorrow.

There is always the option that Besler remains in Kansas City, as signing a new contract has always been hovering in the shadows of these rumors. It has been mentioned previously that the idea of becoming a career Sporting KC player does intrigue the defender.

For what it’s worth, yours truly photographed Besler meeting Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan (on your left) during the final World Cup warmup game against Nigeria in Jacksonville. It was very clearly the first time they’d met.

That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, considering Khan owns the team that plays at EverBank Field and naturally he’s going to want to talk to the US players that are playing there.

But clearly if Fulham already made an offer, Khan was obviously been impressed with the 27-year-old.

And it would seem he’s not the only one.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga