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Report: Atlanta’s Almiron the subject of AC Milan interest

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If Miguel Almiron spends just one season in Major League Soccer, it will still be a major win for the league and his side Atlanta United.

[ MORE: Altidore, Kljestan react to wild Toronto-Red Bulls clash ]

Rumors have swirled over recent weeks regarding the Paraguayan’s future, with several top sides in Europe reportedly expressing interest in the Atlanta attacker.

Now, Metro is reporting that Italian giants AC Milan are pursuing Almiron — who has lit up MLS in his lone season in the U.S.

Previously, Almiron has been linked with a move to the Premier League, including London side Arsenal, while AC Milan’s biggest rivals, Inter Milan, have also reportedly shown interest.

The 23-year-old Paraguayan scored nine goals in 30 games this season for the expansion side, while adding 14 assists for Atlanta — which was tied for fourth-most in MLS.

Almiron was purchased prior to the 2017 season by Atlanta for an astounding $8 million fee, however, the Eastern Conference side will likely make a significant return on their investment.

According to the report, Almiron is currently being valued at around $18 million, which could more than double Atlanta’s purchase.

Andrea Pirlo confirms retirement from NYCFC, playing career

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No party: Andrea Pirlo is calling it a day at New York City FC.

We’ve known this for a while, but Pirlo officially called time on MLS tenure on Monday.

[ MORE: Houston knocks Portland out ]

NYCFC’s comeback attempt fell just short on Sunday when it failed to convert a third goal in a 2-0 second leg win over Columbus (The Crew won the first leg 4-1).

Pirlo issued this statement early Monday, confirming that his retirement from MLS is also his retirement from the playing field.

He’ll go down as a man capable of playing as beautiful a ball as any in soccer history.

Serie A: Higuain fires Juve past Milan; Roma outlast Bologna

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

AC Milan 0-2 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain bagged a brace on Saturday, as Juventus won their third straight game and continued to apply the pressure to Serie A leaders Napoli (Juve now sit top of the table on goal differential, with Napoli still to play this weekend). It’s been reported (by the press and the naked eye) that Higuain has slimmed down a bit after starting the season in relatively poor form and fitness.

Saturday’s opener came after 23 minutes, when the Argentine quickly touched the ball around one defender and fired low and hard from the top of the 18-yard box. It was Higuain’s 100th goal in Serie A (71 in three seasons for Napoli, 24 in his first season for Juventus, and his fifth thus far in 2017-18).

Higuain scored his sixth of the season to make it 2-0 just after the hour mark — another strike from distance.

AC Milan’s fourth defeat in six league games leaves them 12 points off the top spot, and already nine back of the fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot (having already played one more game than everyone else in the race).

Roma 1-0 Bologna

Roma, another of the half-dozen sides expected to factor into the top-four race, did just enough to top Bologna, courtesy of Stephan El Shaarawy’s 33rd-minute goal, the only one of the game.

Like Juve, it’s a third straight win for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side, which now sits fifth in the table, a point back of fourth-place Lazio and four back of Juve and Napoli.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Benevento vs. Lazio — 7:30 a.m. ET
Napoli vs. Sassuolo — 10 a.m. ET
Crotone vs. Fiorentina — 10 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Chievo — 10 a.m. ET
SPAL vs. Genoa — 10 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Atalanta — 10 a.m. ET
Torino vs. Cagliari — 3:45 p.m. ET

Serie A: 10-man Juve score 6; Bonucci sees red, Milan in free fall

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MILAN (AP) Leonardo Bonucci’s latest lapse in concentration may end up costing Vincenzo Montella his job at big-spending AC Milan.

Bonucci was sent off in the first half of Milan’s 0-0 draw at home with Genoa on Sunday for elbowing a defender in the head as he jostled for position on a free kick.

Juventus also had a player sent off early on, forward Mario Mandzukic, but bounced back to win 6-2 at Udinese and close the gap on leader Napoli to three points. Lazio can move level with third-place Juve with a win at home to Cagliari later Sunday.

Milan lost its three previous Serie A matches and was also held 0-0 at home with AEK in the Europa League on Thursday. Last weekend, the Rossoneri were beaten 3-2 by Inter Milan in the city derby after Bonucci was beaten by Mauro Icardi for Inter’s opener.

The Rossoneri’s last league win came more than a month ago and they have dropped to 11th spot.

“Unfortunately, everything that could have happened has,” Montella said. “But I feel supported by the club. … We deserved to win today, because we created chances even when we were a man down.”

Milan, which was bought by a Chinese-led consortium in April, spent nearly $250 million on new players in the offseason and Bonucci was the centerpiece of the overhaul.

The fee for Bonucci’s surprise move from Juventus topped $50 million, and he signed a five-year contract worth up to $12 million per season — making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

But Bonucci has been off form over the last month and now risks missing the game against Juventus next Sunday if he’s given a two-match ban.

Bonucci’s blow to Aleandro Rosi’s head in the 23rd minute left the Genoa player on the ground for several minutes before the blood was cleaned up and he continued playing.

The referee did not initially show Bonucci a red card. The decision came with the help of the video assistant referee (VAR) – marking the first time a red card was handed out by the VAR in Italy.

“I don’t think it was intentional foul play. He was positioning himself. Do you know how many goals I scored in situations like that?” said Montella, whose goals as a player helped Roma to the 2001 title.

“The VAR needs to be remodeled,” Montella added. “If Bonucci hadn’t injured his opponent I don’t think he would have been sent off.”

Sami Khedira netted the first hat trick of his career as 10-man Juventus ran riot in Udine, ending its two-match winless streak in style.

Juve was looking to take advantage of Saturday’s 0-0 draw between Napoli and Inter Milan, the top two sides in Serie A.

Khedira’s first of the match and an own-goal from Samir put Juve in front after Udinese had taken a shock lead early on through Stipe Perica.

But it looked bleak for Juventus when Mandzukic was booked for an argument with Udinese’s Ali Adnan and then turned around and appeared to swear at the referee. He was shown a second yellow card and sent off, leaving Juventus with 10 men for more than an hour.

Danilo leveled immediately after halftime but it was false hope for Udinese as Daniele Rugani restored Juve’s lead shortly afterward. Two more goals from Khedira and another from Miralem Pjanic completed the rout.

Aleksandar Kolarov followed up his midweek goal against Chelsea by scoring from a free kick in Roma’s 1-0 win at Torino.

The Serbian became the first player to score two goals from direct free kicks in Serie A this season, having also connected on his Roma debut in August against Atalanta.

Stretching back to last season, it was Roma’s 11th straight away win, matching the Serie A record.

Roberto Inglese bolstered his case for a January move to Serie A leader Napoli with a brace in the Verona derby, helping Chievo to a 3-2 win.

Napoli purchased Inglese’s rights in August but left the striker on loan at Chievo. It has expressed interest in moving up his arrival after Arkadiusz Milik’s long-term injury.

Europa League preview: Arsenal in Serbia, Everton desperate vs. Lyon

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The twelve groups of the UEFA Europa League bring forth soccer on Thursday, with a bevy of matches dotting the continent.

[ MORE: Full Europa schedule ]

Here are the top five matches to keep an eye on.

Everton vs. Lyon — 3:05 p.m. ET

If you would’ve told Ronald Koeman his Toffees would walk into this match with just one point but sit only another behind Lyon, he’d probably tell you to take a hike. But Lyon drew 1-1 at Apollon Limassol and 1-1 at home to Atalanta, opening the door for Everton to finish the day in Group E’s top two slots.

Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid loanee Mariano Diaz have seven goals each for Lyon, while ex-Premier Leaguers Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore are also key components of the French outfit’s attack.

Red Star Belgrade vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET

Arsenal in Europa has been pretty thrilling, with 3-1 and 4-2 wins under Arsene Wenger‘s belt ahead of the first of two with the 1991 European Cup winners. It’s a nice challenge for Canadian national team backstop Milan Borjan, who should be the man to try to thwart the Gunners in Serbia.

Hoffenheim vs. Istanbul Basaksehir — 3:05 p.m. ET

The favorites to win the group are dead last in the group as they welcome the perceived group underdogs from Turkey. The Super Lig runners-up have some familiar names on the roster with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Eljero Elia, Mevlut Erdinc, Gokhan Inler, Aurelien Chedjou, and Emre Belozoglu.

AC Milan vs. AEK Athens — 3:05 p.m. ET

Milan has been burying goals in Europa play, with five at Austria Wien and three in a home win over Rijeka. Enter Athens, which has scooped up four points in group play and will look for a win to put them ahead of the group-leading Rossoneri.

Nice vs. Lazio — 1 p.m. ET

The only group with a pair of 2-0 teams. Mario Balotelli is plenty familiar with his Roman opposition from his time in Serie A.