Kirsten Schlewitz

Louis van Gaal suggests Manchester United don’t need more summer signings

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It’s the height of silly season, and naturally Manchester United are being linked with a plethora of players. After finishing top in the Premier League two seasons ago, the Red Devils, under David Moyes, slipped down to seventh last season, missing out on European play entirely.

United, understandably, want to restore themselves to their former glories. Louis van Gaal has been installed at the helm, and after Netherlands’ impressive performances in the World Cup, making it to the semifinals, many are confident in his abilities to lead the team.

But United have yet to bring in a host of players. In fact, the only signings made thus far have been that of midfield Ander Herrera, signed from Athletic Bilbao, and defender Luke Shaw, signed from Southampton. So van Gaal must be looking to bring in more players, right?

Not necessarily. Manchester United are close to securing a spot in the International Champions Cup final, so their preseason is going rather well. When asked about transfer plans during a press conference, van Gaal said: “We still have a month to go [in the transfer window] and we are winning. Maybe we don’t need other players. First I want to see the players who I have and give them an honest chance.”

It’s worth noting that five players have already left Manchester United this summer: Alexander Buttner and Patrice Evra were sold, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić left on free transfers, and Ryan Giggs retired.

Giving players an “honest chance” is a good idea in theory, but really, shouldn’t United be at least considering buying a central defender?

Watch Live: LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers (Lineups and Discuss)

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What a treat, an early game from the West Coast. It’s a Western Conference matchup as third-placed LA Galaxy takes on seventh-placed Portland Timbers. Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, and if you’re away from a TV, catch it streaming on NBC Live Extra.

This is the third time the two teams will meet this season — will either come away with all three points this time around? The first game, in Portland, ended 1-1. Things were a bit more exciting when they met the second time, and it looked like the Timbers would come away with the win before Rauwshan McKenzie scored an own-goal late in the game to even the score at 2-2.

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The hosts go into the game on a high, having beaten Seattle Sounders 3-0 on Monday. The Galaxy sit eight points back in the West and still have the opportunity to make up the difference, with three games in hand on most of the league — although they’ve played just one less than the Sounders, who are top.

The Timbers are currently three games back of a playoff spot, and are hoping to build on their two-game winning streak. Last time out they beat Montreal Impact 3-2, taking all three points thanks to a late goal from Diego Valeri.

LINEUPS

LA Galaxy: Penedo; Gargan, Gonzalez, DLG, Rogers; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes

Subs: Rowe, Dunivant, Husidic, Meyer, Leonardo, Hoffman, Jamieson IV

Portland Timbers: Ricketts, Jewsbury, O’Rourke, Ridgewell, Harrington, Johnson (c), Fernández, Chara, Valeri, Urruti, Wallace

Subs: Weber, Paparatto, Villafana, Zemanski, Alhassan, Nanchoff, Adi

 

Diego Costa already surpassing Chelsea’s expectations

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After last season, when Chelsea strikers failed to produce much of … well, anything, really, José Mourinho must have been thrilled to secure the signing of Diego Costa. The 25-year-old scored 27 goals in 35 La Liga appearances for Atlético Madrid last season, and added an additional eight as Atléti made their way to the final.

But Costa picked up an injury last May, reducing him to a mere 15 minutes of play against Barcelona in Atlético’s title-deciding match. He then managed just nine minutes against rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Costa still went to Brazil for the World Cup, but with Spain’s system not designed to make the best use out of the striker, it was tough to see just how well he’d recovered.

The Chelsea manager has no worries, however. Mourinho told Sky Sports:

He’s a great addition for us. “He is a fantastic player. Technically he is very, very good. That’s why lots of the players are so happy and so surprised, because his quality is even higher than what they expect.

He’s so strong physically and gives so much effort during matches. He’s a great addition for us. He’s a fantastic player. When somebody sees him play the first thing that gets into their eyes is exactly that, the capacity to work hard for the team.

Mourinho is also excited by another summer signing, Cesc Fàbregas, about whom he said, “I see him as somebody who thinks football faster than the majority of the players. He is the kind of player we need in our midfield to bring us to a different dimension.”

Thoughts, Chelsea fans? Excited about these new additions to the Blues?

Sporting feel Eric Dier move to Tottenham was rather … unsporting

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Tottenham Hotspur have signed 20-year-old Eric Dier on a five-year deal, spending £4m (~$6.75m) to bring the defender in from Sporting Lisbon. The deal will be complete once he successfully completes a medical.

But Sporting are displeased with the way that things have turned out. Spurs managed to get a great price on Dier because the youngster was unwilling to participate in contract negotiations, so the club’s bid triggered a release clause. The Portuguese side put up a statement on their website:

Over the course of the last month, Sporting Clube de Portugal began negotiations with the athlete Eric Dier for the renewal of his contract. Unexpectedly, Sporting was confronted by the player’s father and official representative with a bid from Tottenham Hotspur, with that bid activating a clause agreed by previous boards of directors for the sale of the player for an amount of €5 million or more, unless the personal terms offered as part of the bid are matched

Furthermore, Sporting was also informed the player did not want to remain with the club even on equal terms, and that any equal or improved personal terms would not have been accepted. 

Sporting sound a bit miffed, don’t they? It’s perhaps understandable, as Dier has been with the club for ten years, and signed his first professional contract not even four years ago. It’s unlikely they thought he’d just up and stop talking in the middle of contract negotiations.

Due to Sporting’s current financial restrictions, they would not have been able to match the terms offered by Tottenham. But they sound rather put out at never being able to have that chance.

Brendan Rodgers full of praise for Mario Balotelli

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Liverpool may have already hit the transfer market hard this summer, bringing in the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and a few others that weren’t actually owned by Southampton. But Brendan Rodgers is still on the lookout for another striker, one that can produce double digits and give the Reds more oomph up top as they head into Champions League play.

Could the next shopping trip bring Rodgers to Italy? He’s been eyeing up Mario Balotelli while Liverpool are in the U.S., competing with AC Milan for the International Champions Cup. The 23-year-old scored 14 goals for the rossoneri last season and picked up two more in the Champions League. Rodgers praised Balotelli:

Balotelli is a big talent. I saw that in this time at Inter Milan as a young player and obviously going to Manchester City when we had a real close eye on him there. He’s got all the qualities. He’s 6ft 3ins, he’s quick, his touch is terrific and he can score goals. He went back to Italy to play and he’s still so young.

If his focus is right, his concentration is right and he leads the lifestyle of a top player then he can play for any team in the world.

That’s the problem though, isn’t it, Brendan? Often Balotelli’s version of leading the lifestyle of a top player means camouflage-painted cars and setting off fireworks inside the house. When he plays a poor game, he’s unable to shake his irritation, and if he’s substituted early, he makes his displeasure known.

Liverpool are obviously struggling to replace Luis Suárez and the 33 goals he scored last season, especially after the deal to bring in Loïc Rémy fell through.  But is taking a risk on the volatile Balotelli really the answer?

Looking to watch Liverpool vs. Milan in the International Champions League Cup? CLICK HERE for the livestream — the game begins at 6:30 p.m. ET.