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Zlatan Ibrahimovic released by Man United

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It’s confirmed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a free agent.

The Premier League Friday morning announced its list of released players from across the league and Ibrahimovic was the sole member on the list from Manchester United.

[More: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The news ends weeks of speculation that Manchester United would cut their losses after losing Ibrahimovic to a torn ACL, which will likely keep him out of action until January 2018 at the earliest, when he’ll be 36-years old.

In his one season at Old Trafford, the wily veteran striker still managed to score 17 Premier League goals and 28 goals in all competitions. It will be difficult for Manchester United to replace that production immediately, although potentially signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid could help bridge the goal gap.

It’s unclear where Ibrahimovic moves next. He’s been oft-rumored for a move to Major League Soccer or to China, but he could sit on the sidelines and await his next move while he rehabs his current injury.

Other notable players released include Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo, Chelsea’s John Terry, Burnley’s Joey Barton, who is suspended by the FA for gambling on soccer games, Stoke’s Shay Given, West Bromwich Albion’s Darren Fletcher and West Ham’s Alvaro Arbeloa. Manchester City’s quartet of Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and Willy Caballero that are leaving had already been announced.

Also of note is the release of U.S. Under-19 centerback Danny Barbir, who joined West Bromwich Albion in 2015. The Romanian-American dual national played mostly with the West Bromwich U-18s and reserves but never made a first team gameday squad.

Here’s a look at all the players set to be released from their contracts this summer:


 

PREMIER LEAGUE RELEASED LIST

AFC Bournemouth

Buckley Callum Ralph
McCarthy Jake
Neale Matthew Alexander

Arsenal

Da Graca Kristopher Santos
O’Connor Stefan Ramone Sewell
Sanogo Yaya

Burnley

Barton Joseph
Green George William
Hill Christian Stephen
Kightly Michael John
Olomowewe Taofiq Aderibigbe Akanni
Pingling Richard Junior George

Chelsea

Davey Alex James
Terry John George

Crystal Palace

Andrews Corie Anthony
Appiah Kwesi
Benteke Jonathan
Campbell Fraizer Lee
Croll Luke Alan
Flamini Mathieu
Fryers Ezekiel David
King-Elliott Ryan
Ledley Joseph Christopher
Williams Randell
Wynter Ben Douglas

Everton

Bainbridge Jack
Brewster Delial Edmund
Donohue Michael John
Duffus Tyrone Errol
Griffiths Russell John
Hunt Connor Charles
Kone Arouna
McAleny Conor Michael
Yarney Josef Charles
Yates James John

Hull City

Bruce Alex Stephen
Lofts Luke
Maloney Shaun Richard
Maslen-Jones Bradley
Ter Horst Johan

Leicester City

Cain Michael Dean
Domej David
Fox Brandon Levi
Kipre Cedric
Miles Matthew Richard
Mitchell Kairo Ellis
Wasilewski Marcin

Liverpool

Brewitt Tom
Brimmer Jake
Dunn Jack
Gomes Aju Madger Antonio
Lewis Kane
Manninger Alexander
Phillips Adam Lee

Manchester City

Bullock Callum
Caballero Lazcano Wilfredo Daniel
Clichy Gael
Navas Jesus
O’Brien Billy Thomas
Plummer Ellis Kane
Sagna Bacary
Zabaleta Girod Pablo Javier

Manchester United

Ibrahimovic Zlatan

Middlesbrough

Fewster Bradley William
Konstantopoulos Dimitrios
Maloney Lewis Terence James
Mondal Junior
Wheatley Josef James

Southampton

Caceres Silva Jose Martin
Isgrove Lloyd Jeffrey
Martina Rhu-Endly Aurelio Jean-Carlo
Willard Harley Bryn

Stoke City

Bachmann Daniel
Edwards Liam
Given Shay John James
Isted Harvey James Duke
Taylor Joel
Waring George Philip

Sunderland

Anichebe Victor Chinedu
Brady George
Buckley William Edward
Casey Dan Patrick
Kirchhoff Jan Tilman
Larsson Sebastian Bengt Ulf
Lawson Carl
Lescott Joleon Patrick
O’Shea John Francis
Pain Oliver David
Pienaar Steven

Swansea City

Dyson Thomas Jonathan
Emnes Marvin
Holland Thomas
Jones Owain Rhys
Samuel Alexander Kinloch
Shephard Liam
Tremmel Gerhard
Vickers Josh

Tottenham Hotspur

Lesniak Filip

Watford

Adeyemo Ola
Bannister Charlie Brendan Alec
Gilmartin Rene
Moreno Fuertes Juan Francisco
Obi Ogochukwu Alexander
Ovenden Rhyle
Ranegie Mathias

West Bromwich Albion

Barbir Daniel
Elbouzedi Zachary
Fletcher Darren Barr
Jones Callam
Pocognoli Sebastien
Rose Jack Joseph
Wright Andre

West Ham United

Arbeloa Coca Alvaro
Ford Samuel George
Howes Samuel Scott
Knoyle Kyle
Westley Samuel Edward

FA Cup preview: Three more PL sides face 3rd-round replays

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Three more Premier League sides, including a top-four fighter, attempt to join a dozen of their top-flight contemporaries in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea and Swansea City host Championship opposition in the form of Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, respectively, while Bournemouth will make the 500-mile roundtrip to take on League One side Wigan Athletic.

The Blues, who now sit fourth in the PL after their disappointing 0-0 draw with Leicester City, could manage only a scoreless draw with the Canaries at Carrow Road earlier this month. They are winless in their last four games across all competitions — all draws — including their League Cup semifinal first-leg draw with Arsenal last week; the last three of those all finished without a single goal scored. Chelsea, who are tied with Liverpool with the fourth-most FA Cups in their history (7), lost out to Arsenal in last season’s final at Wembley Stadium.

Swansea are undoubtedly the side on highest Cupset alert, as Wolves are the runaway leaders and champions-elect in the Championship (10 points clear after 27 of 46 rounds played), thus able to devote more attention to the FA Cup than the typical second-division side. With the two sides separated by just a single place in the English footballing pyramid (Swansea, 20th in the PL; Wolves, 1st in the Championship), they appear destined to swap places by the end of May.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth’s punishment for conceding a pair of early goals to a side currently 32 places below them in the pyramid, is the long, midweek trip from the south coast to the DW Stadium in the northwest of England. It was the Premier Leaguers who needed a two second-half goals, including Steve Cook‘s 90th-minute equalizer, to draw level at home in the first meeting.

Tuesday’s FA Cup replay actionFULL ROUNDUP

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town
West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town
Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Agent: 37-year-old Ronaldinho has retired

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SAO PAULO (AP) The brother and agent of 2005 Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho announced Tuesday that the former Brazil and Barcelona playmaker has retired from football.

Roberto Assis made the announcement to Brazilian media on behalf of the 37-year-old midfielder, who played his last professional match in 2015 for Brazil’s Fluminense.

“Ronnie’s professional career is over. He wants to be a football ambassador, do charity, and work with his friends in music from now on,” Assis told The Associated Press.

Assis hopes to schedule some farewell matches for Ronaldinho after the World Cup in Russia, which ends July 15. The initial plan is to play games in Brazil, Europe and Asia and to also get Brazil’s national team involved, Assis said.

Last July, Ronaldinho said on the sidelines of a friendly in Chechnya that was he was “too old” to return to action.

The Brazilian’s decorated career also includes one World Cup title (2002), one Champions League victory (2006) and two Spanish league titles with Barcelona, and two FIFA world player of the year awards (2004 and 2005).

Ronaldinho started his professional career at Gremio in southern Brazil in 1998. He left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2001 and was signed by Barcelona two seasons later.

At the Camp Nou, he was the engine of a team that took Barca back to the limelight. However, after a series of club trophies, Ronaldinho’s career took a downturn. He was often accused by Brazilian and Spanish media of lacking professionalism, despite his mentoring of a then youthful Lionel Messi.

In 2008, with Messi then leading Barcelona, Ronaldinho left for AC Milan. Despite being part of a team that won Serie A in 2011, he failed to reach his previous heights as a player.

When returning home became a real option, Ronaldinho frustrated Gremio’s efforts to re-sign him and joined Flamengo instead.

Disappointing performances in Rio de Janeiro took him to Atletico Mineiro, a club that then was more often fighting against relegation than for titles.

Yet a more mature Ronaldinho took Atletico to a different level.

In his last great run, Ronaldinho carried Atletico with his superb passes and dazzling dribbles to second place in the 2012 Brazilian Championship.

A year later, he was the key to his club lifting its first Copa Libertadores, South America’s most prestigious club trophy, but his hopes of playing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were dashed.

Ronaldinho left to play for Mexico’s Queretaro in 2014-15, but was mostly on the bench.

He played his last seven matches as a professional for Fluminense, though his performances were a far cry from his best days in Spain.

Now living in Rio, he has appeared in advertisements all over the world since leaving Fluminense.

USL granted 2018 2nd-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer

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U.S. Soccer has officially granted the United Soccer League second-division sanctioning, behind first-division Major League Soccer, for the upcoming 2018 season, as well as first-division status for the National Women’s Soccer League.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan unveiled by Liga MX side Club Leon ]

USL, which will feature 33 teams in 2018, had been granted temporary second-division sanctioning, alongside the North American Soccer League, in 2017. As NASL’s demise continued and accelerated — the league will not begin play this spring, opting instead for a late-summer kickoff, after a number of its teams either folded or jumped ship to USL — USL, with the help of MLS, quickly pounced to capitalize — from U.S. Soccer’s statement:

Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate a Division I and II league, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards. USL has demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist’s take: USL supplanted NASL as the U.S.’s second-most viable professional men’s league — and more importantly, being granted official second-division status — paves the way for MLS to, at some point well down the line — say, 2030 or so — implement its own multi-tiered system of promotion and relegation, featuring anywhere between 60 and 80 teams, while still remaining a single-entity structure closed to the lower reaches of the sport in America, as the lines separating MLS and USL have only become more and more blurred in recent years.

[ MORE: Donovan ready to “win championships” after ending retirement ]

MLS realizes that public demand for promotion and relegation in the U.S. has grown significantly louder in recent years — particularly given the climate of the sport after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup, and subsequent ongoing presidential-election campaign — thus an open-but-not-really-open system which satisfies neither side will eventually be the end result.

Wenger called ref Dean “not honest,” “a disgrace” to earn ban

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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused a referee of being “not honest” and called him “a disgrace” in a rant inside the match officials’ changing room that led to a three-match touchline ban for one of English soccer’s most experienced coaches.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

The English Football Association published Tuesday the written reasons behind its decision to ban Wenger for being abusive toward referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Dec. 31.

In his match report given to the FA, Dean said Wenger “was pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.” Dean then said Wenger said “you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace.”

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

Wenger had been incensed at Calum Chambers being penalized for a handball and West Brom converting the resulting penalty to equalize late in the game.

The FA said “there is simply no justification for this behavior” and considered a stadium ban for Wenger.

Wenger was also fined $54,200 for his conduct.