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CONCACAF finalizing plans to replace international friendlies

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CONCACAF is aiming to mimic Europe as the federation closes in on developing a “Nations League” of its own.

[ MORE: USMNT to face Venezuela, Ghana this summer ]

FIFA vice president and CONCACAF boss Victor Montagliani has revealed to Reuters his plans to eliminate international friendlies from the North American region and effectively replace it with a competition that features all 41 nations from North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

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“There has been overwhelming acceptance that it is a great idea and the way we need to go,” Montagliani said. “There are a few formats that we have looked at, and we have had various members coming back with ideas. We have a format that we have landed on and we will show it to our members first.”

An official decision could come Saturday when CONCACAF meets in Aruba to discuss the proposed matter and other topics.

UEFA is preparing to debut its Nations League in 2018, with all European countries involved in the competition during the international windows.

While the USMNT and other big CONCACAF nations like Mexico and Costa Rica have become accustomed to facing top-quality competition during the international window, that would all change with Montagliani’s proposal.

The U.S. has previously taken on top teams like Brazil and Germany during the international break, however, the new tournament would give the Americans nontraditional sides.

“With Europe changing to the Nations League, it is going to get harder to get friendlies,” Montagliani said.

Montagliani doesn’t believe that the switch will affect CONCACAF’s big nations though, and in fact says that it could actually help the region as smaller teams develop.

“The truth of the matter is that a lot of the friendlies our nations play, including the bigger nations, are a waste of time,” Montagliani said. “Let’s be honest: A lot of them are not quality. You are better off playing a game that actually means something against an opponent, that on paper anyway, may not be as good.

“We need to develop our own competition in our region to make everybody better,” he continued. “And then you need to do it at club level as well, to raise the standards of our professional leagues and the clubs in them.

“This is the only way that our countries will get better. It’s not about playing friendlies against England.”

AC Milan completes signing of forward Kalinic

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MILAN (AP) Big-spending AC Milan has signed another player, completing the transfer of Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic from Fiorentina.

In a brief statement on Tuesday, Milan said it signed Kalinic “on a loan deal with obligation to buy.”

Kalinic has signed a four-year contract through to June 30, 2021.

Milan has been in negotiations with Fiorentina for the 29-year-old Kalinic for a while, and he missed training last week as he attempted to push through the move.

Milan, which was bought by a Chinese-led consortium in April, has spent more than 200 million euros ($234 million) in the offseason, signing Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez, Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti, Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucas Biglia and Mateo Musacchio.

Alan Shearer has a message for Wayne Rooney

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Alan Shearer finally has a friend.

On Monday Wayne Rooney scored in Everton’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City (see in the video above) and he became just the second-player in history to reach 200 goals in the Premier League.

Rooney, 31, still has some way to go to catch Shearer’s all-time record of 260 goals in the PL but the former Manchester United striker has a few more years left in the tank to try and get as close as he can.

Take a look at the video below as Shearer (or, Mary Poppins to Newcastle fans) delivers a message to Rooney.

What’s next for Julian Green, and what’s gone wrong?

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Julian Green will have a new team again soon, in all likelihood.

A Stuttgart publication says Green is on the transfer market this month, just eight months after moving from Bayern Munich to the then-2.Bundesliga side for less than $500,000.

Now 22, Green is three and a half years removed from Jurgen Klinsmann’s long campaign to get him into a USMNT shirt. It’s been a little less time since he scored in extra time against Belgium in the World Cup, but also less than a year since he scored goals in consecutive USMNT matches. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Green scored one goal in 10 appearances for Stuttgart, who was promoted to the Bundesliga at the end of last season. He fell out of favor there, but was far from poor. Green completed 87 percent of his passes and averaged 1.3 dribbles per game (only four teammates had more, though 10 matches is a smaller sample size).

Before that, he spent parts of three seasons with Bayern Munich and made just four appearances, taking a loan to Hamburg in 2014-15 that saw him banished to Hamburg II after just five appearances.

What gives? Whether attitude or skill, Green has a lot of work to do to get back to a level where he’s a reasonable USMNT call-up (Green has a respectable three goals in eight call-ups, netting against Cuba and New Zealand in Oct. 2016). Still, it’s far from over for Green at 22.

There are legit questions here, as the list of not high-profile players Bayern Munich has used in its senior team at a young age and blossomed elsewhere isn’t necessarily impressive (at least relatively speaking). Nils Petersen, Thomas Kraft, and Sandro Wagner are exceptions to the rule. Better put: Bayern has a really good idea what it’s doing when it lets young players walk, and it begs discussion on the best path for Green.

It seems likely he could get a move to another 2.Bundesliga club, and there’s an outside shot he could get a look in the top flight. It would be interesting to know where the interest lies abroad. Would it be hard to acquire a work permit for France or Spain (England seems a hard sell)? Could a move to a free-flowing Eredivisie club work?

Obviously Major League Soccer clubs would welcome his talent and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be a useful piece in the United States’ top tier, even if on a short-term move as he looks to regain confidence. Would Green see it as below him?

Arsenal’s Wilshere sent-off after brawling in U-23 match vs. Man City

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Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere isn’t standing around waiting for his next team, he’s fighting.

Period.

Wilshere got into with several members of Manchester City’s U-23 side in a match on Monday, with the English midfielder taking exception to a hockey-style hip check from City’s Matthew Smith.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Shoving the 17-year-old Smith, Wilshere saw the City man take a tumble and stay prone. Still riled up, Wilshere tangled with City’s Tyreke Wilson.

Wilshere and Wilson were sent off.

Given his injury history, we’re not surprised Wilshere took exception to a hard and needless foul in a U-23 match.

The Arsenal man has been linked with moves to Newcastle, West Ham, AC Milan, and Sampdoria, but Arsene Wenger wants to keep Wilshere at the Emirates Stadium.