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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Nainggolan to Man Utd, Costa to Atleti

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With the transfer window officially open, Manchester United is being linked with basically every single player in all of Europe. It’s up to fans and media to parse out what deals seem more likely and what appears to be nothing but chatter.

The one that may have legs is a rumor connecting the Red Devils with Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan. The 29-year-old Belgian has been a solid box-to-box presence for Roma since arriving from Cagliari in 2014. Still, he may have reached his ceiling with the Italian club and could look elsewhere.

Nainggolan had been linked to Chelsea but the Blues have appeared to turn their attention towards Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, and that deal looks to be nearing completion.

Still, the Nainggolan rumor hasn’t made it much past the tabloids, with Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport the most adamant of its eventual completion at a rate around $48 million. Whether this comes to fruition or not, it’s clear Jose Mourinho wants another holding midfielder, as United has also linked heavily with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. It’s also important to remember that Nainggolan is saying all the right things, admitting a month ago he’d be happy to stay at Roma.


Another, more recent Manchester United rumor is a bit more surprising. With the future of goalkeeper David De Gea still up in the air as Real Madrid links refuse to go away, Mourinho could be weighing up his options between the sticks.

According to a number of reports, the Red Devils boss could turn to Manchester City’s Joe Hart. The England starter has admitted he is nervous about finding a new club this summer, with his City career likely over. Obviously this hinges on the potential departure of de Gea, but if the Spaniard were to head back home, could Mourinho give Hart a lifeline?


Diego Costa could be on his way out of Chelsea, leaving Antonio Conte with work to do up front. The Spanish international has been linked with a return to Atletico Madrid for some time now, but their transfer ban complicates matters.

According to a report by Spanish publication AS, the capital club would not loan Costa out for the first half of the season, instead keeping him in the reserves until they are able to register him on January 2nd. That would leave the 28-year-old on the sidelines for four months until he’s able to play again.

With Antoine Griezmann already back on board, plus the other strike options in Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres, adding Costa would further gluttonize the front line as Atletico Madrid opens play in The Olympic Stadium in Madrid next season. However, with such competition and only a half-season to ply his trade, Costa would likely find playing time at his old club hard to come by.


Monaco’s midfielder Fabinho has been linked with a number of Premier League targets, but it appears now his heaviest suitor comes from France.

According to reports in a pair of French outlets, L’Equipe and So Foot, Paris Saint-Germain has made a $51 million bid for the 23-year-old Brazilian, but Monaco rejected the approach in hopes of keeping Fabinho on board. Even if they do sell Fabinho, it’s likely that Monaco would hope to avoid sending him to a direct Ligue 1 rival. Nevertheless, Goal.com reporter Loic Tanzi states that Fabinho has already agreed to personal terms with PSG, and the Parisians only need to convince Monaco to sell for the deal to be completed.

With Bernardo Silva already gone, the future of Kylian Mbappe up in the air, and Thomas Lemar also drawing heavy interest, Monaco will do well to keep any of these young men at the Stade Louis II next season.


With Watford and Southampton both signing players on Saturday, Middlesbrough could be next as they have reportedly won the signature of Norwich midfielder Jonny Howson.

According to The Mirror’s print version, the 29-year-old has picked the Premier League side over his former club Leeds United. Middlesbrough will reportedly pay $6.5 million for Howson, who has one cap for the England national team.

Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards

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The yearly debate as to whom the best player in the world is won’t be settled in the minds of fans across the globe, but on Monday, FIFA gave its two cents.

Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo took home Best Male Player honors at the FIFA Best awards, beating out Lionel Messi and Neymar for the title.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy award, beats out Pulisic, others ]

Meanwhile, all three superstars were named in the FIFA Best XI for the year, alongside the likes of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Andres Iniesta.

Here’s a look at some of the other winners from Monday’s FIFA awards.

Best Male Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

FIFA World XI: Gianluigi Buffon; Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Leonardo Bonucci, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar.

FIFA Men’s Coach of 2017: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)

Puskas Award for Best Goal: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Best Female Player: Lieke Martens (Netherlands)

PST names Best XI for 2017 MLS season

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The 2017 MLS regular season saw some of the finest performances from players across the league.

New arrivals in Atlanta, such as Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron, garnered a great amount of attention, while Chicago Fire striker Nemanja Nikolic went on to capture the Golden Boot in his first season in MLS.

Stars like Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa continued to leave a lasting impression on the league, but with only 11 spots available for selection, some of game’s best had to be left off.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Budding U.S. Men’s National Team figures have emerged throughout the MLS scene, including from each of last season’s MLS Cup final squads.

Below is the PST built its Best XI for the 2017 MLS season.

MLS Best XI via Lineupbuilder

Players that just missed the cut

GK: Luis Robles, Bill Hamid

Defense: Roman Torres, Ike Opara, Andrew Farrell, Joevin Jones

Midfielders: Lee Nguyen, Sacha Kljestan, Alex Ring, Romain Alessandrini

Forwards: Miguel Almiron, Sebastian Giovinco, Justin Meram


Which players would you have included in your Best XI? Who was the best player in the league? Tell us below.

Justin Meram discusses Crew’s hot form, facing Atlanta and more

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The Eastern Conference has established itself within the ranks of Major League Soccer given the quality of the sides at the top.

While Atlanta United — in its first MLS season — and Toronto FC dominate headlines, alongside New York City FC, lost in the shuffle is Columbus Crew SC.

[ MORE: Impact fire Mauro Biello after team loses nine of last 10 matches ]

The Crew finished fifth in a congested East after settling for a 2-2 draw on Decision Day against NYCFC, however, Greg Berhalter’s squad has been among the best in MLS for the second half of the season.

Pro Soccer Talk caught up with Crew midfielder Justin Meram ahead of his side’s first-round matchup against Atlanta in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“I wouldn’t say there’s less pressure on us,” Meram told PST. ” We might be written off in terms of the attention that they have had this season. Some networks have come out by saying that they [Atlanta] are the favorites, but nothing changes with this group.

“We let all that outside noise stay outside and we don’t let it affect us. Whether they have us winning a game, or whatever the case may be, we have a game plan and a style of play that we look to execute no matter where we go.”

Decision Day around MLS has created havoc — and a great narrative — but Sunday’s result against NYCFC proved to be the difference between potentially hosting a playoff game, or possibly having a bye, versus now having to travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Obviously that’s what makes Decision Day so much more exciting,” Meram said. “We didn’t control our own destiny, but the way things went with Atlanta and Chicago we could have jumped from fifth to second. It’s just one of those things that didn’t go our way.

“We didn’t play our best in the first half, but we also faced a really good team and I was pleased with how we bounced back. I think that showed our quality and our ability to claw back into games on the road, which is crucial during the playoffs.”

The Crew have been one of the league’s top home sides in 2017, winning 12 matches at MAPFRE Stadium — which ranks second in MLS behind only Toronto FC.

However, Meram and his side now face a stiff test against an Atlanta team that has lost just one of its eight matches since moving over from Bobby Dodd Stadium in mid-September.

“I need to be at my very best on Thursday,” Meram said. “We all need to be on top of our game because we need a collective effort in order to beat Atlanta.”

Scheduling has a funny way of factoring into the outcomes of matches at times, but given the fact that the Crew and Atlanta haven’t met since July 1 all bets are off in terms of which side is the  favorite to advance.

Atlanta won both matches earlier in the season as the two clubs met in home-and-home fixtures over a span of three weeks, but Meram remains confident that his side’s current form will help them prevail.

“Their attack is lethal,” Meram said when asked about facing an Atlanta side that scored 70 regular season goals. “One small little mistake allows them to pounce on chances. They punish you.

“We have to be clinical with our build up play and shape throughout the match. When we get our half-chances we need to bury them. When we played Atlanta the first time, we had a couple of breakaways that we didn’t put away and it hurt us.

“We have the quality, but playing at their home, with their fans, we need to focus on finishing our chances in order to advance.”

The topic of relocation has come as a shock not just in Columbus, but throughout MLS since last week’s announcement that owner Anthony Precourt would explore his options for the club moving forward.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meram has insisted though that he and his Crew teammates remain focused on winning MLS Cup — which would be the club’s second in franchise history.

“Obviously we haven’t let it affect us,” Meram told PST. “We played a really good game on Sunday. We’re just staying with the same mindset that we’ve had the second half of the season, which doesn’t reflect the owner’s announcement.

“There’s not much I can say. I have a job to do. He [Precourt] has a job to do. The fans have their job to do. Right now, it’s about focusing on the playoffs and seeing what happens. There’s nothing definitive about staying or going, so I can’t speculate at this point.

“At the end of the day, I want a championship, and I believe that’s the feeling for all of our guys right now. That’s how it has to be from the player’s perspective because the second we shift our mindset we’re going to get punished by other sides.”

Montreal fires Biello after Impact loses nine of last 10

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Mauro Biello is out.

The Montreal Impact have parted ways with its entire coaching staff following a terrible end to a disappointing 2017 season which failed to see them build on an Eastern Conference Finals run.

[ MORE: Yaya Toure to NYCFC? ]

Montreal lost nine of its last 10 despite beating Toronto FC in Toronto, finishing with 39 points. That’s 11 points out of a playoff spot, which looked all but certain before their miserable finish to the campaign.

This despite an MVP caliber season from recently-extended Ignacio Piatti, who scored 17 goals with five assists. That the Impact failed was a bit baffling, especially following the midseason addition of Blerim Dzemaili, who chipped in seven goals and 10 assists in 22 matches.

There are some interesting pieces for the next boss, should 24-year-old Anthony Jackson-Hamel and 18-year-old Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla stick around.

The 45-year-old Biello finishes his first managerial gig following a playing career with the Impact (pre-MLS), Rochester Rhinos, and several indoor sides including the Impact, Toronto Thunderhawks, and Buffalo Blizzard.

Follow @NicholasMendola