Author: Richard Farley

Swindon Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly

Vertonghen confirms interest from Barcelona, intends to stay at Tottenham

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For the second summer in a row, Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen has been linked with a move to Barcelona. And for the second summer in a row, the Belgian international appears set to end the transfer window at White Hart Lane.

Currently enjoying his post-World Cup break, Vertonghen has confessed to Belgian media that there is interest from the Catalan titans. With a new contract having been offered by Tottenham, however, the 27-year-old left/center back said he has no intention of leaving White Hart Lane.

Via reporting by the Press Association:

The Belgium defender’s agent suggested several clubs were interested in the 27-year-old, including Barcelona, whose influential centre-back Carles Puyol retired this summer.

“Rumours will always be there, but I just go back to Tottenham,” Vertonghen told the Belgian talk show Vive le Vélo. “Interest from a great club like FC Barcelona pleases me of course – this is confirmation that you’re doing well. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, they say, but for the moment there is certainly no fire.”

In a separate interview, Vertonghen said “it goes without saying” he would like to stay with Spurs, calling the new contract offered by the club a “great sign of confidence.”

They’re encouraging words from a player who’s always rumored to be unhappy playing left back, where he made 12 starts last season. But with Spurs’ recent acquisition of former Swansea fullback Ben Davies, Vertonghen looks less likely to be drawn out wide, leaving the former Ajax defender to take up his preferred spot in the middle.

From his own words, however, we can infer the position difference hasn’t influenced his opinion of the club. Even before experiencing life under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, Vertonghen’s affirmed his commitment to Spurs. And with a new contract on the table, Tottenham’s ready to affirm its commitment to him.

Van Gaal, Manchester United ready to move on from Fellaini, Kagawa

Marouane Fellaini

Though David Moyes has left Manchester United, a huge emblem of the Scot’s failed reign remains at the club, though if Louis van Gaal has his way, Marouane Fellaini’s tenure at Old Trafford is about to be cut short. According to multiple reports  out of England, the Red Devils are looking to find another home for their lanky Belgian, with Napoli linked to the former Everton midfielder.

[MORE: van Gaal’s strict style in effect]

Fellaini left the Toffees at the end of last summer’s transfer window but failed to have an impact at United, with Moyes’ willingness to pay above the Belgian’s release clause (after it was allowed to expire) earning criticism. Throughout an injury-filled season, the 26-year-old make only 12 league starts, drawing further attention to Moyes’s decision to bring the midfielder in from Goodison Park.

That season’s left van Gaal trying to find a new home for Fellaini, but according to The Independent, that home may have to be temporary, with Napoli insisting United accept a loan deal:

A Fellaini move to Napoli will be contingent on United accepting a loan deal for the player, though they are very keen for a sale to recoup the huge outlay on their fourth most expensive signing. The player would also need to take a considerable cut in the £100,000-a-week salary United agreed when his arrival seemed to salvage something from a desperate transfer window, last summer. Napoli, who are currently looking to move players on to raise funds, are not awash with cash, which is why they want a loan.

Fellaini may not be the only World Cup talent van Gaal’s trying to move. According to the same report, Shinji Kagawa may turn back the clock on a move that’s gone flat after two seasons:

Van Gaal may also be ready to allow Shinji Kagawa to leave, with Borussia Dortmund ready to take back a player who made his name there before leaving for Old Trafford, where he has not flourished.

As much as United need to buy this summer, the team also needed to lose a series of players who, whether by skill, fit, or age, now have no place in the Red Devils’ squad. Some of those moves have involved favorites like Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. Others have seen players like Alexander Buttner, Federico Macheda, and Bebé leave the club. With talents like Fellaini, Kagawa, and Tom Cleverley, van Gaal has a set of players whose futures need sorting out.

[RELATED: Wayne Rooney wants Manchester United’s captaincy, but candidacy is complicated]

For Kagawa, there’s a willing home ready to embrace the Japanese international’s return. In the case of Fellaini, it may take some compromise to convince another team to take on United’s unfortunate talisman.

Radamel Falcao on track to return at weekend’s Emirates Cup

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As talk about moving to Real Madrid has started to die down, Radamel Falcao is nearing a return to the field. According to Monaco’s new head coach, the Colombian international, out since January with a knee injury, is expected to return this weekend when the Ligue 1 runners-up take part in the Emirates Cup.

Monaco will play back-to-back games in North London, facing Valencia on Saturday before taking on the tournament’s hosts, Arsenal, on the final day. Benfica will also take part in the four-team competition.

Barring any setbacks, Falcao will return this weekend, with new head coach Leonardo Jardim saying his first choice striker should play against Los Che.

“I think he will be able to start playing again at the Emirates Cup,” Jardim told L’Equipe. “He is now in the final phase of his recuperation.”

That recuperation has come as a result of an injury suffered against Toulouse on Jan. 19. To that point, Falcao had been Monaco’s leading scorer, collecting nine goals in his first half season with the club.

This spring, Falcao attempted to return from early his knee surgery to take part in this summer’s World Cup, but by the time José Pekerman selected Colombia’s final squad, a lack of progress left Falcao unable to join the Cafeteros in Brazil. Colombia went on to make the quarterfinals before being eliminated by the host nation.

Despite his injury, Falcao’s spent the summer linked to Real Madrid, where fellow Cafetero and former Monaco teammate James Rodríguez moved earlier this month. Jardim, however, emphasized the striker’s importance to his current club.

“For now, he is a Monaco player and I am counting on him,” the Portuguese coach added.

With Monaco opening its Ligue 1 against Lorient on Aug. 10, time’s running out to get Falcao match fit before the season starts. Given the extent of his injury, however, match fitness may be a secondary concern. First things first: Just get him back on the field.

New York connection: Red Bulls, Cosmos come together on Lade loan

New York Red Bulls v DC United - Eastern Conference Semifinals
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Two years ago, Connor Lade was a regular for the Red Bulls, with his work under Hans Backe as a 22-year-old sparking hopes of a national team future. But after starting 24 games as a rookie, Lade has only made 10 MLS appearances under Mike Petke, splitting his time between New York’s senior team and reserves over the last two seasons.

Today, the Red Bulls made a move to get the homegrown product steady playing time, sending him on loan to the New York Cosmos. According to the team’s website, the midfielder/defender can be called back from the NASL at any time.

“This loan enables Connor to get some much needed playing minutes in competitive action while also keeping him fresh for the remainder of the 2014 season,” Red Bull Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh said, via “We will monitor Connor’s progress as the year proceeds.”

That the Cosmos are on the receiving end of the move is what makes this news. Since returning to the field last year, the club as trumpeted its continental ambitions – the idea that they don’t see second division status as preventing them (or the NASL) from competing with Major League Soccer. Last year’s signing of former Spanish international Marcos Senna was seen as a signal of that intent, while this year’s U.S. Open Cup success earned Giovanni Savarese’s team some bragging rights by eliminating the Red Bulls.

Today, however, was a small reminder: Most of that is just marketing. The Cosmos still have a ways to go to reach their goals, not surprising considering they’ve only spent just over one season back on the field. Why some hoped the team would spend big and immediately compete for Open Cups, that’s not going to happen. Eight points back of San Antonio in the NASL’s Fall season, the Cosmos have their hands full at the second level.

It’s going to take time. In the interim, the team may need to do some non-Cosmos things, like take a Red Bulls backup on loan.

Injured groin sends Rafael home early from Manchester United’s tour

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Twenty-four-year-old Rafael could be one of the players who benefits most from Louis van Gaal’s move to a three-man central defense, but having suffered a groin injury late last week, the right back’s assimilation into Manchester United’s new approach has been halted. Now, with the Red Devils’ season opener less than three weeks away, the Brazilian defender has been sent back to England, with the severity of his injury ruling him out of the remainder of United’s preseason tour.

Rafael suffered the injury on Friday in Denver, where the Red Devils were preparing to face AS Roma. Though United went on to defeat Serie A’s runners up 3-2, Rafael didn’t play, giving way to Ecuadorian international Antonio Valencia a right wing back.

This evening, United confirmed Rafael’s new status, saying the defender was “unlikely” to participate in the rest of the team’s tour.


Rafael has returned to Manchester to continue treatment on the groin injury sustained in training in Denver.

As he was unlikely to participate in the remaining tour games, returning to the Aon Training Complex affords the best overall option for his recovery in time to continue pre-season preparation when the team returns.

Plagued by injuries last season, Rafael was limited to 18 Premier League starts, with his now fragility putting this season’s opener in doubt. If he can’t get healthy before Aug. 16’s visit from Swansea City, van Gaal will have to choose between Valencia and two players who figure to have more impact in central defense: Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.