Wenger hints at Arsenal stay despite Barca vacancy

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Arsene Wenger is getting a little fed up with talk about his future at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Ozil reveals Mourinho bust-up

Well, he should probably confirm whether he is staying or going, right?

Wenger, 67, spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Liveprool on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and confirmed once again he will decide his future before the end of the season.

Over the last few weeks he said he would definitely be coaching somewhere next season, be it at Arsenal or not. Yet, his tune has changed slightly.

“I have been here for 20 years and I had many times the opportunity to leave, so I don’t think I have to convince you that my preference has always been Arsenal,” Wenger said. “But, of course, I am objective and lucid enough to make the right decision for myself and the club as well. The club is free to make the decision it wants and I will respect that.

“Would I be interested in the Barcelona job? No. My preference has always been the same and it will remain the same. I am not looking for jobs in other clubs or jobs off other people. I am focused on me, getting to the next level and trying to improve and always trying to see what you can do better and reinvent yourself – that’s what I try to do. That’s basically it.”

Okay, well there you have it.

With Luis Enrqiue announcing on Wednesday that he will not be Barca’s head coach next season there have been links with Wenger to the soon to be vacant position at the Nou Camp.

However, comments like these appear to suggest that Wenger will sign that two-year extension sitting on the table patiently in his office.

Recent reports have stated that Wenger has turned down huge contract offers from the Chinese Super League but he seemed annoyed when asked about that and instead wanted focus on Arsenal’s big clash at Liverpool this weekend which will go a long way to deciding if either club can finish the season strongly and secure a top four finish.

Even if Wenger wants to concentrate solely on the here and now, he should sign the deal and let all of the speculation regarding his future dissolve.

That may help his team out on the pitch as they battle for the FA Cup, a top four finish and to try and launch a miraculous second leg comeback against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.