Twenty-four-year-old Rafael could be one of the players who benefits most from Louis van Gaal’s move to a three-man central defense, but having suffered a groin injury late last week, the right back’s assimilation into Manchester United’s new approach has been halted. Now, with the Red Devils’ season opener less than three weeks away, the Brazilian defender has been sent back to England, with the severity of his injury ruling him out of the remainder of United’s preseason tour.
Rafael suffered the injury on Friday in Denver, where the Red Devils were preparing to face AS Roma. Though United went on to defeat Serie A’s runners up 3-2, Rafael didn’t play, giving way to Ecuadorian international Antonio Valencia a right wing back.
This evening, United confirmed Rafael’s new status, saying the defender was “unlikely” to participate in the rest of the team’s tour.
Rafael has returned to Manchester to continue treatment on the groin injury sustained in training in Denver.
As he was unlikely to participate in the remaining tour games, returning to the Aon Training Complex affords the best overall option for his recovery in time to continue pre-season preparation when the team returns.
Plagued by injuries last season, Rafael was limited to 18 Premier League starts, with his now fragility putting this season’s opener in doubt. If he can’t get healthy before Aug. 16’s visit from Swansea City, van Gaal will have to choose between Valencia and two players who figure to have more impact in central defense: Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
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Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
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The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
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Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.