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Southampton stay strong on Virgil van Dijk

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Virgil Van Dijk has been seen leaving Southampton’s Staplewood training ground on Thursday, but it won’t be for the last time.

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The 26-year-old Dutchman handed in a transfer request earlier this month to try and force through a move away from Saints and it appears highly unlikely that he will leave St Mary’s in the final hours of the window on Deadline Day.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that there has been “no change” in Southampton’s stance that Virgil van Dijk will not be sold this summer.

With Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and others said to be interested in the classy center back — Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool publicly apologized in June amid reports linking them with a private, unsanctioned meeting with van Dijk and they then subsequently dropped their interest — VVD will now face the prospect of getting his head down and playing for Southampton at least until January.

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If van Dijk — who signed a new six-year deal at Southampton last summer — refuses to return to training with the first team then Saints will also be happy for him to continue to train with the youth team, just as he has been for most of preseason after new manager Mauricio Pellegrino confirmed he was not committed to the team and wanted to leave.

The ball is now in VVD’s court and in a World Cup year where he is sure to be a starter for the Netherlands if they qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, not playing games would be hugely detrimental for the Dutchman’s career.

In theory if he doesn’t play for Saints then his value may not be impacted too much, especially as he hasn’t kicked a ball since January following a foot injury which ruled him out of the second half of last season.

Van Dijk is the team captain at Saints and even though club captain Steven Davis has suggested he would be welcome back with open arms after his exile to the youth team, it appears that this would be a very tough situation to come back from given VVD’s public condemnation of the club.

For a player of his caliber Southampton will surely make an exception but the next few days, if he doesn’t leave before the deadline, as expected, will be incredibly telling to how this saga will play out over the coming months.

Fans of every other club apart from Liverpool have applauded Saints’ strong stance on van Dijk this summer as “player power” had been spiraling out of control for some time.

With van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool amid the Barcelona interested and even Alexis Sanchez likely staying at Arsenal, it appears clubs are starting to wrestle back some of the power this summer more than most.

Van Dijk’s situation epitomizes the “enough is enough” approach when it comes to transfers and players downing tools when they feel like it.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.