EXCLUSIVE: Rodgers, Kompany preview Manchester City vs. Liverpool

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In the latest edition of Premier League Download, NBC Sports’ Premier League studio host Rebecca Lowe caught up with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (see a clip of that interview, above) to talk about the Reds’ hopes for the season and life without Luis Suarez. Also, lead announcer Arlo White also got the Man City perspective as he caught up with their captain, Vincent Kompany, ahead of the monster clash on Monday.

Below are a few snippets from the interview with both men, which you can see live in full from 12 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon on NBCSN before Liverpool travel to play Manchester City at 3 p.m.  ET. There’s also a chance to see an exclusive interview with Steven Gerrard in full during the latest episode Premier League Download.

Rodgers on Luis Suarez and how they will cope without him… 

It was a great privilege to work with Luis. He is a world class performer. I think he will be the first to tell you that when he first arrived at Liverpool, a lot of people hadn’t heard of Luis Suarez. Then, obviously he left as a world class star. Liverpool was very good for Luis, also. Time will tell [if they can cope without him] but it was time to move on. For us he was a wonderful talent but that part of our story has gone now. We have got other fantastic players. You can never replace like for like, you have to find other ways in which to do it.

Rodgers on last season’s title race coming up just short and how he dealt with it…

Over the course of the season you have to say, the best team won. Manchester City had two more points than us. There were games when we were fantastic but we only draw and other games where we showed spirit and won when we could have lost…. That’s just the job. It can be a lonely place being a manager. When you arrive as a manager at any level you have something in you that makes you a leader. Part of that leadership is the ability to go again.

Kompany on winning the title last season…

It is a dream come true. You can’t realy describe it. No money in the world, no words in the world describe or represent what this feeling is all about. As a kid you dream of lifting trophies, you dream of playing the game you love. You are happy in life. It is a weird description. It is like a wedding or the birth of a child for some people. You have to put those above or on a par. It is as intense.

Kompany on his manager, Manuel Pellergini…

He has his own philosophy, he is a very calm man and he doesn’t really let emotions come too much into play when it is about the game. The only emotions he wants to see is positive, attacking football. That’s why I keep mention the word philosophy because, at times, we could have changed the way we played. We had to be honest, it did make us vulnerable at times because we are looking to score as many goals as we can. We were sometimes playing with eight offensive-minded players, which I don’t see any team in the league doing apart from us.

Zlatan announces LA, MLS arrival in bizarre fashion

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has arrived in Major League Soccer.

The veteran striker terminated his contract at Manchester United earlier this week and the 36-year-old Swede will reportedly signed a two-year deal worth over $3 million per season with the LA Galaxy.

He confirmed that the Galaxy will be his club on Friday by taking out a full page advert in the LA Times in typically sarcastic fashion.

Zlatan kept it short and sweet, as the Galaxy’s new No. 9 will certainly be a blast in MLS, just for his off-the-field antics alone.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt trains with Borussia Dortmund

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Usain Bolt has taken part in his first proper training session with Borussia Dortmund’s first team as he continues to chase his dream of being a professional soccer player.

The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired as a sprinter earlier in 2017 after the World Championships, is on a two-day tryout with Dortmund which many are merely saying is a publicly stunt.

Yet with Dortmund allowing Bolt, 31, the chance to train with first team stars on Friday it may be a little more than just a chance for media members to flock to watch Dortmund in an open training session. Given the fact that Dortmund are sponsored by Puma, the same sponsor Bolt has, many are connecting the dots and it was a laid back training session on Friday as Bolt spent plenty of time signing autographs after scoring a header and a penalty kick.

Remember: Bolt is a lifelong Manchester United and has mentioned many times over the years that he would like to turn to professional soccer.

Earlier this month he announced he will captain a World XI at Old Trafford in a UNICEF charity game in June 2018, with Bolt teasing the planet on social media by saying he had signed for a soccer team. With his speed, power and size, is it really that far-fetched to think he could be a good targetman if he can sort out his hold up play and work on his endurance to last 90 minutes?

Watch the videos below as the Jamaican superstar scored a pretty solid PK, took part in training and obviously had most of Dortmund’s star players, such as Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin, in awe.

Let’s see what the future holds for Bolt, but this is probably little more than Peter Stoeger and Dortmund having a longstanding offer accepted by Bolt to train with them. Maybe he could turn out for Dortmund’s reserve squad in a scrimmage and go from there?

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.