Personal terms all that separates Griezmann from $40 million move to Atlético Madrid

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Atlético Madrid has lost Diego Costa, David Villa, Felipe Luís, and Thibaut Courtois, but don’t shed too many tears for the reigning Spanish champions. Getafe’s Miguel Ángel Moyà has been given the one shirt, while Bayern Munich castoff Mario Madzukic could prove a better fit than Costa up top.

But the summer’s biggest prize could still be a few days from the Vicente Calderón. According to reports out of Spain, French international Antoine Griezmann is in the process of negotiating personal terms with Atleti, with Real Sociedad having already agreed to a $40 million deal that would send the 23-year-old to the capital.

Coming off 16-goal season at Anoeta, Griezman would help replace Costa’s goals, and with his versatility allowing him to play wide or in support of Mandzukic, Atlético would no longer depend on one mona. Added to Arda Turan, Koke, Gabi, and Raúl Garcia, Mandzukic and Griezmann would form a more diverse attack, one capable of keeping Atleti near the top of the Primera Division.

Atlético head coach Diego Simeone, speaking from his team’s tour in California, trumpeted that versatility while remaining cautious the deal. From AS:

“He’s a very good player. He is very quick and can give us a lot of options in attack.” […]

“It’s also true that a lot of other players have been talked about as possibly coming [to Atlético], and we could make two teams out of all of them.”

Griezmann’s a great talent, but as encouraging as the name is for Atlético fans, the size of the fee is the bigger news. For a club that seems to live in constant economic uncertainty, it was unclear how much of their summer income would go back into the club. With a $40 million figure being thrown around, those fears can be alleviated. Even if Griezmann doesn’t move to the Calderón, Atlético’s prepared to maintain a strong squad.

If he does move, however, Atlético may be as strong as last year. That doesn’t mean Simeone will duplicate his title-winning magic, but replacing Costa with Mandzukic and Griezmann could turn into a plus for Spain’s holders.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.