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Reports say Man City close in on deals for Walker, Mendy

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Manchester City are said to be close to signing Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy with Pep Guardiola about to spend $120 million on a new right and left back.

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City need these two additions badly, but that’s a lot of cash.

Multiple reports state that Walker, 27, has agreed to join Man City from Tottenham Hotspur in a $65 million deal (that would make him the the most-expensive defender in history) with the England international set to have a medical later this week and then jet off with City on their preseason tour of the U.S. next week. After losing out on Dani Alves to Paris Saint-Germain signing Walker was a priority for City.

As for Mendy, the 22-year-old French international has an incredible engine and his displays last season in the UEFA Champions League have convinced City to spend over $55 million with reports stating City and Monaco are close to an agreement and Mendy could be a City player early next week.

Now, we all know defense was the main issue for City last season and quite frankly it’s been that way for the last five seasons.

After letting Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy leave this summer, Guardiola badly needed full backs and although he has overpaid for them, just like he did for goalkeeper Ederson earlier this summer, he’s got what he wanted.

Walker will provide pace and power from the right back slot and City finally seem to have broken Daniel Levy’s resolved as Spurs’ chairman has played this perfectly. At the end of last season Walker fell out with Mauricio Pochettino and Kieran Trippier impressed as he slotted into the team, so know Spurs already have a replacement for Walker and they’re getting $65 million.

Mendy is the latest in the mass exodus from AS Monaco as the French champions have also sold Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva to Man City earlier this summer for $55 million and are set to lose Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea while Arsenal are chasing Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe seems destined for Real Madrid.

Back to City though, and if they complete this double swoop it will be a huge upgrade on their defense from last season as ageing full backs struggled to cope with the extra demands placed on them by Guardiola, and a shaky central defense didn’t help matters with John Stones struggling and Vincent Kompany only able to play the second half of the season when he returned from injury.

Balance is everything for Guardiola and with two attack-minded full backs he now has that. Just like he did at Barcelona with Dani Alves, Maxwell and Eric Abidal, he has full backs who can keep the ball and join the attack but are also quick enough to recover and keep a solid defensive shape after a turnover.

Walker and Mendy will basically play as wing backs for City and will be asked to move inside with the ball, something Walker isn’t too comfortable doing but he has everything else needed to excel at the Etihad Stadium.

Yes, they overpaid, like they usually do for defenders, but City have addressed their needs perfectly just as their preseason kicks up a few notches with the small matter of playing both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the U.S. over the next two weeks.

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage:

Casemiro: Neymar “would get along very well with Cristiano” at Real

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The speculation (transfer) train keeps chugging along as domestic seasons near their conclusion, and one rumor continues to be fueled linking one of the world’s top players to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview ]

Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has been short, less than a season to be precise, but the Brazil international could be moving on from the Parc des Princes sooner rather than later after his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League recently against Real.

Nothing concrete has been determined about Neymar’s future, but Real Madrid continues to be linked with the South American star, and one current Real player feels Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo would get along “very well.”

“[Neymar] has always been spectacular, since he was 11 years old. He does crazy things,” Real midfielder Casemiro told El Partidazo .l”I don’t think there is any chance that he will come to Real, but you have to ask [Madrid president] Florentino Perez.

“He knows that the door is always open for him in Madrid, but he is happy in Paris. He always says that he is happy there, that he is comfortable in Paris. There are many Brazilians there too, it is very quiet there, but whether it’s possible you have to ask Florentino.

“With the quality that he has, I would sign him for sure. I hope he comes this season.

“He is a great player, one of the top three in the world. He can do whatever he wants off the pitch if he continues to do what he does on it.

“He would get along very well with Cristiano, very well.”

Real is currently in the midst of a historic run in the Champions League, having won the competition three times in the last four seasons.

Casemiro isn’t the only Real player eager to bring in a talent such as Neymar though.

Defender Dani Carvajal also recently told the media that he would be ecstatic to have a teammate like the Brazilian come into the fold at the Santiago Bernabeu.