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Wenger gives update on Alexis Sanchez; talks transfers

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Arsene Wenger does not believe Alexis Sanchez is going anywhere.

[ MORE: Lukaku signs for Man United ]

Well, those were his words but the way he spoke in Sydney, Australia, there wasn’t too much conviction in his voice.

Speaking in Sydney after Arsenal touched down for their preseason tour of Australia and the Far East, Wenger told reporters that outlets in Chile were incorrect when stating Sanchez had told Wenger he wants to leave.

Was this the case?

“No,” Wenger said. “Nobody knows today if Sanchez will be in the final year of his contract next season, because he can as well extend his contract with us at the start of the season or during the season, so it’s not necessarily the last year of his contract with Arsenal.”

If Sanchez does leave the Emirates, it appears Wenger has plenty of players in mind to replace him.

Wenger insisted that Olivier Giroud wanted to remain at Arsenal despite the club-record signing of striker Alexandre Lacazette last week — Wenger revealed Lacazette will make his debut against Sydney FC on Thursday, plus Arsenal’s new striker will wear the no.9 jersey — while he also raved about Kylian Mbappe from Monaco and declared his interest in signing another Monaco star, winger Thomas Lemar.

The Frenchman admitted Lemar is “a player we look at” and that “there will be more signings” but there’s nothing more concrete at the moment.

Arsenal is said to have had one bid turned down for Lemar, with Monaco demanding over $60 million for the 21-year-old French international.

As for Mbappe, Wenger revealed Arsenal’s interest in the 18-year-old but also said “all of Europe has a red carpet open for him” as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and others chase the teenage sensation who helped Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the UEFA Champions League semifinals last season.

The fact that Wenger was talking more about ins than outs will please Arsenal fans, but those lingering doubts over Sanchez and Mesut Ozil sticking around grow each and every day they don’t sign a new deal. It appears any potential signing day is no closer with Sanchez still on vacation after his summer excursions for Chile in the Confederations Cup.

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.