It hasn’t been a great few weeks for Southampton.
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They’ve lost three-straight games in the Premier League, plus captain Jose Fonte has handed in a transfer request and now record-signing Sofiane Boufal was injured with Morocco and on Monday he returned from the African Cup of Nations before the tournament even started.
Add up all of that and manager Claude Puel has a few headaches ahead of the big EFL Cup semifinal first leg at home against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saints’ first domestic cup semifinal since 2003, Puel confirmed that Fonte will not feature against Liverpool and that Virgil Van Dijk will continue as Saints’ captain.
“It is important for me to keep stability in the defense with players, we don’t know the future for Jose, it is a difficult situation,” Puel said. “You know the situation with Jose. I respect Jose and this is not easy for him, the squad or the staff. He is a good professional, but we have to respect this situation.”
On Boufal, the French manager said his star winger has suffered inflammation on the same knee he had surgery on last year and will be out for a few weeks as he recovers in Southampton.
With Saints on 24 points after 20 games in the PL, knocked out of the Europa League at the group stage and drawing with second-tier Norwich City in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, Puel badly needs his players to stand up and put in a big performances on Wednesday against Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool.
Southampton have only reached one major cup final in the past 40 years and Puel would become a hero in the south coast city if he could guide Saints past Liverpool over two legs and to the final against either Manchester United or Hull City.
Putting the bad news about Fonte and Boufal to the one side, Saints’ fans will take being level heading into the second leg at Anfield in two weeks time.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.
French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.
The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.
Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.
The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.
A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.
Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.
Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.
Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.
The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.
Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.
If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.
Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.
The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.
Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.
The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.
Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.
This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.
The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.
For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.
SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.
Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.
The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.