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Impact defender Ciman hopes to extend MLS stay past 2018

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While he may not be one of the household names in Major League Soccer in terms of popularity, Laurent Ciman has easily become one of the league’s top defenders since coming to North America.

[ MORE: Sounders in firm control of West final after leg 1 victory ]

The Montreal Impact center back arrived on the MLS scene back in 2015, and has spent the last three seasons with the Canadian side.

In that span, Ciman has not only allowed those within the MLS ranks, but also with his native Belgium, to which he has earned various call ups to the national team recently. He is also on track to make the Red Devils squad ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The 32-year-old has plans to remain with the Impact past 2018, when his contract expires, and Ciman says he hopes the club’s next manager — Remi Garde — will be able to assemble a quick turn around.

“My projects are based in the MLS. I have a year left with Montreal, and my goal is to extend my contract in North America after that,” said Ciman.

“Last season was disappointing, but I hope the new coach will give new momentum to the team.”

The Impact missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017 after the team lost nine of its last 10 regular season matches.

VIDEO: Merciless KDB strike puts Man City up two

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Merciless in multiple ways, might we add.

Moments after Leicester City saw Ederson save a Jamie Vardy header and a follow-up hit the post, Man City showed Leicester it can counter pretty effectively.

[ VIDEO: Mane’s sweet strike ]

Kevin De Bruyne led the charge with a diagonal ball to the corner, and Leroy Sane held up play as the Belgian worked his way toward the top of the arc.

That’s when the ball came back to KDB and, well, ka-boom.

Marouane Fellaini’s future at Man United in serious doubt

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Marouane Fellaini‘s future at Manchester United is in serious doubt with the Belgian midfielder out of contract on June 30, 2018.

Fellaini, 29, last held contract talks with United in September but rejected the Red Devils’ offer of a new deal.

Galatasaray were linked with a move for Fellaini in the summer and Besiktas are said to be interested in signing him in January, but reports state that United will not sell him in January and will instead risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Over the past few months his manager at United, Jose Mourinho, has been singing Fellaini’s praises despite the destructive midfielder dividing opinion among United’s fans and neutrals with his performances in central midfield.

You either love him or you hate him. That’s just the way it is. He was even booed by United’s fans last December when he warmed up as a sub during the game against Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Since then, things have changed but Fellaini’s future is in doubt despite him having a good relationship with Mourinho.

Fellaini’s powerful performances in midfield give United something completely different and he has often come in for high-profile games away from home and helped disrupt the rhythm of opponents, while his aerial ability is always useful off the bench. Playing in a more defensive role than he did in the past, Fellaini has also scored four goals in nine appearances in 2017-18 and Mourinho singled him out for special praise after the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea before the break with Fellaini rushing back from injury to feature in the second half.

Mourinho has done that a lot this season, perhaps knowing in the back of his mind Fellaini was having doubts about signing a new deal at Old Trafford.

United’s manager has called Fellaini his “most important player” on many occasions and although that may be a stretch, there’s certainly something to be said about the former Everton man lasting this long at United after his horrible debut season under David Moyes in 2013-14.

Almost five years on from his $35.5 million arrival from Everton, the fact that Fellaini is only now seen as an important figure for United tells the whole story.

Frustrated by Martinez’s tactics, De Bruyne calls out Belgium boss

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Based on his two-plus seasons of performances for club and country, Kevin De Bruyne has earned the right to publicly voice his and his teammates’ frustrations — the unofficial players’ spokesman, if you will.

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Thus, it would clearly behoove Belgium manager Roberto Martinez to have De Bruyne, Manchester City’s transcendent playmaker, firmly on his side a mere seven months before the 2018 World Cup. With that in mind, let’s check in on one of the trendier picks to triumph next summer, following Friday’s 3-3 friendly draw with Mexicoquotes from

“Mexico were just tactically better. Their system made our five defenders sit deep and we were swimming in midfield — it was five against seven.

“Look, we still put too much on our talents. As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties against countries like Mexico. It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.

“Of course we play with a system that is in principle very defensive, but it is filled with many attacking players who want the ball.

“Then you have a bit of a problem, like against Mexico. It was a match in which we had very little possession and everyone in a system that doesn’t really fit. We now know that something must be changed against such teams.

“But, eventually. Martinez decides. I think the trainer has to find a solution so that we can avoid such situations as against Mexico in the future.”

Well, that’s not exactly ideal, but on the bright side, Martinez has proven tactically flexible extremely stubborn and rigid while manager of Everton and Wigan. There’s probably very little to validate De Bruyne’s gripes.

Fortunately for De Bruyne, Martinez and Co., the Red Devils breezed through their qualification group as one of Europe’s four unbeaten sides (alongside Germany, Spain and England), thus the current international break — along with those closer to the World Cup in March and May/June — are meant to be used for experimentation and fine-turning.

[ MORE: Southgate plans to put England through mock shootout before WC ]

Of course, said experimentation and fine-tuning must result in a handful of affirmative answers, otherwise you’ve really only managed to halt momentum and unbalance a side, which will inevitably prompt your star player to question your leadership in a public forum.

You stay you, Roberto.

Hazard calls Belgium teammate “the best player in the PL”

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There’s very little doubt in the mind of Eden Hazard, who was not so long ago widely considered the best player in the Premier League, over who is the current “best player in the PL.”

[ MORE: One of the favorites — Spain in fine form, thrash Costa Rica 5-0 ]

It’s surely more than a little bittersweet for Hazard — while he’s fortunate enough to play with Kevin De Bruyne for the Belgian national team, it was his club side, Chelsea, which let De Bruyne leave for Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg, and ultimately Manchester City, after making just three appearances for the west London club.

[ MORE: Three (young) Lions — Southgate’s squad gets younger… and younger ]

Now, almost four full years later, De Bruyne has ascended to unquestionable World Best XI status. Everyone who’s watched 30 minutes of Man City this season knows it, and Hazard certainly knows it — quotes from the Standard:

“Kevin is definitely the best player in the Premier League. He plays with a good team but that’s also thanks to him that they play so well.

“He has been criticized when he has played for Belgium, but I do not always think that’s fair. He always carries out everything and does his best. He’s an excellent player for our team.”

While Chelsea made a profit of roughly $14.5 million when they transferred De Bruyne to Wolfsburg in January 2014, one can’t help but daydream how the Blues’ on-field fortunes might have differed in recent seasons had they kept the dynamic Belgian duo together another six or 12 months, just long enough to flourish and take the world by storm.