Michael Laudrup

Report: Robin van Persie offered gigantic contract by Qatari club

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With Robin van Persie coming off an injury-plagued campaign and set to turn 32 years old by the start of the upcoming season, the future has become somewhat muddy for the Dutchman.

One Qatari club just made it a whole lot muddier.

Lekhwiya, managed by former Swansea boss Michael Laudrup, has reportedly offered van Persie a meaty contract worth a whopping $28 million over three years in an attempt to lure him away from the big stage of the Permier League and into a semi-retirement in Qatar.

The report in the Daily Mail says that with one year left on van Persie’s Manchester United contract Turkish clubs Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are also interested, but that Qatar’s offer far exceeds what either of those clubs could reasonably offer.

Things at Manchester United have become unclear in the attacking third of the pitch. Wayne Rooney is the only constant, with Falcao likely to return to his parent club AS Monaco and 19-year-old James Wilson having only just broken into the side. There will almost certainly be at least one if not more strikers on their way in to Old Trafford, with Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke heavily rumored to be considered by the Red Devils front office.

For van Persie, a move to Qatar would likely be enticing. He moved from Arsenal to Manchester United under heavy scrutiny in order to have a better chance at winning the Premier League title, which he accomplished in his first season at Old Trafford as the feature striker appearing in all 38 matches and scoring 26 goals. In the two years since, the Dutchman’s role has slowly decreased. He was benched for much of the 2015 stretch run after a slow start to the season, moved aside in favor of the successful experiment of Wayne Rooney at striker.

Should van Persie risk a final season at Manchester United and run out his contract, he could be putting his chance at one more big contract in massive jeopardy if he indeed has little to offer next season. According to the Daily Star, van Persie had a “crisis meeting” with his agent Kees Vos this week with the striker worried about his future. While that term is largely sensationalist, it’s likely that the two met to discuss how to proceed with van Persie’s career. Qatar could be just the Get Out of Jail Free card van Persie was looking for.

Newcastle United turned down by McClaren, will stick with Carver through end of season

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Steve McClaren, the first-choice candidate of Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, has turned down the chance to take over the Northeast club and once again manage in the Premier League.

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McClaren, who’s been in charge at Derby County since September 2013, was offered the job and invited to start as soon as this week, as Newcastle currently have three games left in the 2014-15 Premier League season and sit just two points clear of the third and final relegation place. John Carver, who is in charge at St James’ Park on an interim basis, will instead manage Newcastle’s final three games of the season.

“I reiterate what I said on Saturday straight after the game,” said McClaren on Wednesday. “And what I’ve said to the board and the players yesterday – I’m 100% committed to finishing the job [at Derby].

“I hear the speculation, I see it, but I’m 100% committed to Derby County at this point. I’ve been saying it for months, that my total focus, my total commitment, is on Derby County.”

[ MORE: Report: Newcastle want McClaren to take charge of final three games ]

Derby, who held the Championship’s top spot at one point this season, completed their epic fall from first to completely out of the promotion playoffs with a 3-0 defeat to Reading last weekend, but McClaren intends to remain at the club and make another run at promotion next season.

“For three quarters of the season we were one of the best teams in the league, we were top of the league. We looked as if we were going to go on. Since that moment a lot of things have gone wrong but it is not a bad team, it is not a bad football club overnight. That is why I want to stay here and finish the job.”

[ MORE: Carver accuses Williamson of intentional red card, players of not trying ]

There’s also the added incentive of avoiding the chaotic and often times disastrous situation at Newcastle, which could very well end with relegation into the same league as Derby next year.

According to the UK’s bookmakers, David Moyes, Michael Laudrup and Frank de Boer are currently favorites to land the Newcastle job during the summer. Having already been turned down by a Championship manager, what makes anyone thing the more established likes of continental managers would jump at the offer instead?

Hull City’s Steve Bruce among candidates at Southampton

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According to Saturday’s reports, Southampton has a six-man list of candidates to replace Mauricio Pochettino, though given philosophies of the man Saints lost to Tottenham, one of the names being considered may surprise supporters at St. Mary’s. In the wake of the intense, possession-based style the 42-year-old brought from Espanyol, Southampton management is willing to consider somebody whose teams have typically embodied an entirely different approach. Steve Bruce, who took Hull City to this year’s FA Cup final, is among the names on Saints’ list.

Southampton has also reportedly spoken to Ronald Koeman, who left Feyenoord in the Eredivisie last month. According to The Guardian, the Dutch defending icon may be Southampton’s favorite, with Bruce giving the club the option of hiring somebody with experience in England.

From the report:

Southampton … want to make an appointment by the end of week and Bruce has emerged as the English option because of Hull’s considerable improvement under his management …

Bruce regards Southampton as an upgrade, even at a time when the club is being threatened by an exodus of their best players. However, it is understood he is not the front-runner for the job, with Koeman meeting Southampton officials during the week.

Koeman left Feyenoord last month and the 51-year-old appeals to Southampton because of his philosophy of bringing through young players and adopting an attacking playing style.

Bruce’s style wouldn’t readily be called “attacking,” particularly relative to Pochettino or Koeman’s. His approach also doesn’t particularly emphasize possession or technical play, perhaps a function of the talent Bruce has had around him. In charge of the players his clubs have bought, however, the teams Bruce has built bear few similarities to what we’ve seen from the Saints since their Premier League return.

Wouldn’t somebody like a Michael Laudrup be a better fit? He eventually flamed out with Swansea, but his style of play would be a better fit. What about Roberto Di Matteo, or perhaps placing a call to Sunderland to see if Guy Poyet may be available. If you are going to go for somebody with a wealth of experience in England, that guy who just left Old Trafford would probably be a better option, too (not that he’d take the job). Why is Bruce on this list?

Ultimately, it may not matter. After success at Feyenoord, Koeman seems a near-perfect fit with the Saints. Even if it’s unclear why he’s been targeted before others, Bruce may only be a backup play at Southampton.

Frank de Boer says Tottenham have not been in touch

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Tottenham Hotspur are in hot pursuit of a new manager, after parting ways with Tim Sherwood shortly after the Premier League season ended. But the man many thought would be in charge of Spurs next season says the club haven’t been in touch in weeks.

Back in April, when Sherwood was still on the bench, Frank de Boer, who’d turned down the chance to speak with Tottenham after André Villas-Boas was sacked, said that the club had been in touch. Apparently Spurs had contacted Ajax, asking about the ability of their manager.

But now it’s almost June, and Spurs haven’t followed up on their promise to call. No letter, no email, no nothing – neither de Boer or Ajax have heard a word. De Boer said that he doesn’t know if Spurs will be in touch, but that he’s happy at Ajax.

If not the Ajax manager, then who? There’s a long list of coaches hanging out in the unemployment lines right now: David Moyes, most recently at Manchester United; Michael Laudrup, sacked from Swansea in February; and Neil Lennon, who left Celtic earlier this week.

Apparently, bringing in someone unattached isn’t in Tottenham’s game plan. Perhaps Daniel Levy thinks it screams of failure, and would instead like to woo his ninth manager away from a team. After all, Villas-Boas was without a job when Spurs brought him in, and look how well that turned out.

Really, though, it’s likely de Boer hasn’t been contacted because Spurs have their eyes set on one man. It makes most sense that the club will wait to see how negotiations with Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino pan out before determining if they need to move on to any other candidates.

Cruyff says Puyol could have played in Barcelona’s Dream Team

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Until Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona teams recently won two European titles, the teams Dutch legend Johan Cruyff assembled in the late 1980s and early 1990s were held alone at Barça’s standard for greatness. According to Cruyff, speaking today at Carles Puyol’s retirement, the defensive linchpin for Barça’s recent standard bearers would have easily fit with his own European Cup winner.

Cruyff’s teams were the first to leverage the production of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, producing talents like GuardiolaJosé Mari Bakero and Txiki Begiristain to combine with the likes of Romário. Hristo Stoichkov, and Michael Laudrup. The club won four consecutive league titles starting in 1991 and also claimed the 1992 European Cup.

According to the team’s coach, Puyol — a six-time league-winner and three-time European champion — would have had no problem having an impact in another of Barcelona’s legendary squads.

“I’m sure Puyol could have played for the Dream Team,” Cruyff said on Thursday, according to AS.com.

Had he played in Barcelona’s 1992 team, Puyol would have likely started next to former Cruyff teammate Ronald Koeman, whose extra time free kick at Wembley delivered the 1992 European Cup to Barcelona. He would have also been next to a young Albert Ferrer, who went on to make over 200 league appearances for the club.

At 35, however, Puyol was a teenager when the Dream Team was collecting trophies – an age that leaves him only 35 at retirement. According to Cruyff, the World Cup-winner still has a lot to give the game.

“[Puyol’s] life isn’t going to stop, he’s 35 – he’s got many years ahead of him and he has so much knowledge to share.”