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“Catalyst for change” at Arsenal needed

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“A catalyst for change” is what Arsenal want to see if Arsene Wenger remains in charge beyond this season.

[ MORE: Arsenal stuck in state of flux ]

Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis met with a fans’ forum before the draw with Manchester City on Sunday and some of the discussion has started to leak out.

Several outlets in the UK are reporting that Gazidis confirmed the decision on Wenger’s future will be mutual between the Frenchman and the board,a “thorough review” would take place, that no contract extension has been signed and that if he remains at Arsenal for longer than his 21st season in charge then Wenger must be a “catalyst for change” and embrace a new direction for the club.

That last point may be particularly tough to handle for Wenger as he has always done things his own way and up until this point it has always garnered results with 20-straight campaigns of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

Yet, with Arsenal seven points of the top four with 10 games remaining (they do have a game in hand on fourth-place Man City) it looks as though Wenger’s incredible streak of delivering top four finishes is about to end. There is also the very real possibility that Gazidis, chairman Sir Chips Keswick and other key directors may opt to move on without 67-year-old Wenger if the Gunners don’t finish in the top four.

What could change if Wenger does stay at Arsenal?

One suggestion is that a director of football may be brought in to help Wenger oversee the day-to-day running of the club and although many fans state that the club haven’t spent enough money in the transfer window in recent years Gazidis and Co. will point towards the acquisitions of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, the latter two arriving last summer for a total of almost $140 million.

It’s clear things need freshening up at Arsenal, not just with the playing squad, as Ozil and Sanchez have yet to open contract talks, plus many other first teamers only have deals until the summer of 2018.

Times they are a changin’ and probably for the better.

Even if the protests against Wenger seemed somewhat halfhearted by fans in Arsenal’s draw with City, it seems like the board is being a lot more serious about pushing the Frenchman in a certain direction.

Cristiano Ronaldo announces birth of twin sons via surrogate

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s third-place match at the 2017 Confederations Cup this Sunday.

He has bigger things to sort out.

Ronaldo, 32, was released from Portugal’s squad late Wednesday after their defeat on penalty kicks to Chile in the Confed Cup semifinals in Russia.  The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will now travel to visit his new twin sons, who were born via a surrogate earlier this month, with Ronaldo set to meet them for the first time after captaining Portugal in Russia over the past few weeks.

According to reports from Portuguese TV channel SIC, the surrogate mother was based on the west coast of the U.S. (I can already hear you guys asking ‘does that mean they’re eligible to play for the USMNT?’). Ronaldo is now the father of three children after already having a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

Reports also suggest that his 22-year-old girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is five months pregnant, so soon he could be a father for the fourth time. He would then be able to field a five-a-side team of Ronaldo’s for indoor games…

Below is the post from Ronaldo confirming his departure from Portugal’s squad, which the national team also confirmed, as he is set to meet his new children for the first time.

“I was in the service of the national team, as always, body and soul, even though my two sons were born. Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve the main sporting objective that we wanted, but I am sure we will continue to give joy to the Portuguese.

“The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national picker have today had an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget. I’m very happy to finally be with my children for the first time.”

Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.