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Alexis Sanchez on new contract: “It depends on Arsenal”

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Alexis Sanchez has spoken for the first time about the ongoing contract situation at Arsenal.

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The Chilean forward, 27, has 18 months left on his current deal and Arsene Wenger is asked about the negotiations for both Sanchez and Ozil in every press conference.

Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Wenger has accused journalists of “lacking in creativity” as he continues to be asked about Sanchez’s future, while reports suggesting big money contracts from Manchester City, $500,000 per week  deals from China and elsewhere are being offered to the former Barcelona forward.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the trip to the Etihad, Sanchez has firmly placed the ball in Arsenal’s court.

“I’m focused more on winning football matches – I’m staying concentrated on that. It really doesn’t depend on me – if they want to show confidence in me. I’m very happy at the club. I love all the staff. I’m very grateful for everybody here,” Sanchez said. “It depends on Arsenal. I enjoy the relationship with the fans. I want to achieve more for them. I want to win the Premier League and the Champions League.”

“I’ve told my agent I don’t want to speak about this too much when all the rumors are going around – it can distract a player from their main focus of concentration. I’m playing well and scoring goals. I’m achieving my objectives. I’m just focused on playing football, Sunday is a very important match.

“I’ve got an agent who deals with all of this, so I just want to focus on making the fans happy. I’m very relaxed. I’m trying not to let it bother me – that’s not what I want. We’ll see when it’s all resolved – I’m very calm. I’ve told my agent I don’t want to speak about this sort of thing.”

So, that’s quite a big move from Sanchez to admit he doesn’t want his agent to talk to him about the contract situation for the foreseeable future. That could mean nothing will be sorted until the end of the season, which would leave Sanchez with just a year left on his deal at Arsenal.

It is reported that Sanchez’s representatives are asking for $362,000 per week, while Arsenal is offering $250,000. Sanchez currently earns $162,000.

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With Paul Pogba and Manchester United’s to stars all on over $300,000 per week, both Sanchez and Ozil feel like they deserve similar wages.

It’s hard to argue with that. Especially when it comes to Sanchez.

Whether he’s played out wide or more recently through the middle as the lone striker, Sanchez has excelled in his three seasons at the Emirates Stadium. This season he has scored 14 goals and has eight assists in 22 games in all competitions, with his importance to Arsenal clear.

For Arsenal’s fans who have seen Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and others move on after similar contract disputes in the past, they’ll be getting more nervous the longer this goes on.

From the outside looking in, wouldn’t it make more sense to lock Sanchez down to a long-term contract rather than spend $60-70 million to replace him and then pay someone else similar wages?

Sanchez should demand some of the highest wages in the Premier League and Arsenal need to deliver know they’re financially much more competitive after years of paying off the move to the Emirates Stadium.

LIVE – Everton kick off Europa League campaign

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Wayne Rooney will play his first competitive game for Everton in 13 years.

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That storyline will dominate Everton’s return to Europe as they kick off their 2017-18 UEFA Europa League campaign in front of a packed house at Goodison Park on Thursday.

The Toffees welcome Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok for the first leg of the third qualifying round as they aim to make it back to the group stage for the first time since 2014-15.

Click on the link above to follow not only Everton’s game but all of the Europa League qualifiers going on across Europe this afternoon with the likes of AC Milan, Fenerbache, PSV, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao all in action.

If Ronald Koeman‘s side successfully navigate their way past Ruzomberok then they will be in the play-off round which is the final hurdle before the group stage.

Bob Bradley named first-ever LAFC head coach

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Bob Bradley is heading back to Major League Soccer and will be the first-ever head coach of Los Angeles Football Club.

LAFC announced Thursday that Bradley, 59, would take charge of the new MLS club for their inaugural season in 2018.

The former Chicago Fire, New York MetroStars, Chivas USA, U.S. national team, Egyptian national team, Stabaek, Le Havre and Swansea City head coach is back Stateside for the first time since 2011 when departed his job with the USMNT.

Bradley won the 2007 Gold Cup, took the U.S. to the 2009 Confederations Cup final and reached the 2010 World Cup Round of 16 while in charge of the USMNT.

LAFC announced the news in an unconventional manner with the video below as Bradley is back in the game after leaving Premier League side Swansea City in December 2016 as he became the first-ever American to coach in the PL.

MLS’ newest team is already pushing ahead with its 22,000 capacity soccer-specific stadium in downtown LA with construction underway on their swanky new home.

The club also boast a huge number of high-profile owners including Mia Hamm, Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, Vincent Tan and many others with entrepreneur Peter Guber the executive chairman.

Barcelona praise Man United; Mourinho lauds Pogba

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Barcelona beat Manchester United 1-0 in their International Champions Cup clash at FedEx Field on Wednesday and the Spanish giants were quick to praise Jose Mourinho’s side after the narrow victory.

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New Barca boss Ernesto Valverde certainly has his hands full in his first few weeks in charge at the Nou Camp as Neymar’s future is the main topic of conversation around the Catalan club.

That said, after the win (which came via a goal from, you guessed it, Neymar) Valverde had plenty of kinds words to say about United and the job Mourinho is doing at Old Trafford.

“Obviously it hasn’t been well lately, but I mean they won the Europa League. This year they are going to be in the Champions League. Their presence by itself is impressive. They impress. I think they are going to be a really hard team to beat,” Valverde said. “For me, they are contenders to win and they are going to be hard to beat in the Premier League and the Champions League. I wouldn’t want to face them in the Champions League.’

Mourinho was asked about the situations regarding the top talent in world soccer and the huge transfer fees, and he picked out that moment to praise the current most-expensive player in the world Paul Pogba.

“(Lionel) Messi and Neymar, there is only one; there is not two,” Mourinho said. “(Luis) Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Gareth) Bale, (Luka) Modric, Toni Kroos; there is only one so they can only play for one club, not for two clubs. We can’t have them, they belong to the clubs. But I have to say that Paul Pogba showed the level… he showed he belongs to that level.”

This is certainly a big year for Pogba after his up and down start to life back at Old Trafford in 2016-17.

Sure, he he hadn’t plenty of pressure on his shoulders with the huge price tag, his emoji spinning around the pitch and much more, but he helped drag United through the season and achieve their main aim of getting back to the Champions League.

After a strong preseason Stateside where the won four games and lost a tight encounter to Barcelona, it appears Mourinho has things moving in the right direction.

Whether or not United will challenge for the PL title and Champions League this season remains to be seen but you can’t argue that Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof aren’t huge additions and if Mourinho can add one or two more he will have the required balance to made the Red Devils a formidable unit.

LA Galaxy fire Onalfo, hire Sigi Schmid

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Sigi Schmid is back in the game.

On Thursday LA Galaxy announced that Curt Onalfo had been relieved of his duties “effective immediately” and that Schmid had been hired.

The former UCLA, Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders coach is back for his second-stint with the Galaxy — he previously coached the Galaxy from 1999-2004 — as the man with more wins than any other boss in MLS history is tasked with saving LA’s season.

Schmid has won two MLS Cups, a record five U.S. Open Cups and three MLS Supporters’ Shield over his illustrious career.

LA Galaxy President Chris Klein explained the decision to bring in the experienced coach after Onalfo’s promotion form LA Galaxy II failed to work out with the MLS giants currently languishing in ninth spot in the Western Conference.

“After a great deal of evaluation and careful consideration, we believe that Sigi Schmid is the best person to coach our team for the remainder of this season and into the future,” Klein said. “Sigi is one of the most experienced coaches in the history of soccer in the United States and he is an extremely successful manager that has proven himself to be a winner within Major League Soccer. Sigi has been one of the best coaches the history of our league and we have full confidence in him to lead our team moving forward. Our goal remains to win trophies and be the best club in North America and we believe that Sigi gives us the best opportunity to achieve this. Curt Onalfo has been a loyal servant to the Galaxy and Galaxy II for a number of seasons and we wish him well.”

From the start Onalfo was on a hiding to nothing with Bruce Arena departing for the U.S. national team last season and Onalfo tasked with an almighty rebuild following his great work with bringing through youngsters at LA Galaxy II.

Schmid knows the league inside out and his main aim will be to rally a talented group of Galaxy players to one of their famed second half of the season surges as they search for another MLS Cup to add to their record haul of five.

With LA in ninth spot in the West they are only three points off the bottom of the standings but are also just five points from the final playoff spot.

For so long Schmid plotted LA’s downfall as head coach of the Seattle Sounders from 2009-16, but now he’s back in LA and as fate would have it his first game back in charge of the Galaxy is against… the Sounders this Saturday at StubHub Center.