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Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

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Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.

Rooney set for Everton as Southgate sends warning

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Wayne Rooney is expected to go back to Everton, and the move won’t come a moment too soon when it comes to his international future.

The Independent reported Tuesday that sources close to both club think a move will happen this summer, with Manchester United possibly waiving a transfer fee and Rooney taking a big pay cut to facilitate the move.

It comes on the same day that England coach Gareth Southgate answered a question on Rooney’s future by saying his players need to feature regularly on the big stage for their clubs, and that the nation’s all-time scorer is not immune.

[ MORE: Making sense of Schweinsteiger to Fire ]

In a week in which Jermain Defoe admitted his move to Toronto cost him time with the national team, this is not great news for fans hoping Rooney chooses MLS over Everton, West Ham, and any other European suitor.

Here’s Southgate, from Sky Sports:

“Whether it is young players in our system or senior players in our system, the desire is to see English players playing regularly in the biggest possible matches.

“The more players that you have available to select, that are playing in games that matter, games for teams that are pushing for the title, games that are cup finals, latter stages of the Champions League, the latter stages of the Europa League, there the games you want your players involved in.”

Rooney is not with England due to injury. We don’t know how long the 31-year-old plans on playing internationally, but it seems more and more likely Everton will be the next spot for him. It’ll be good to see him playing more regularly, for sure.

What risk? Making sense of Schweinsteiger to Chicago in post-DP MLS

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Quick, how old were the best performers in Major League Soccer last season?

Rather than rattle off the players we think were the best, let’s use a couple advanced stats sites to double down (Squawka and WhoScored).

According to the former, the Top Ten “performance scores” were posted by Sebastian Giovinco (29), Osvaldo Alonso (30), David Villa (34), Ignacio Piatti (31), Gio dos Santos (27), Benny Feilhaber (31), Chad Marshall (32), Chris Pontius (29), Walker Zimmerman (23), and Lee Nguyen (29).

As for the latter, you’ll see a lot of the same faces at the top. Giovinco, Alonso, and Piatti remain 1-2-3, but the Top Ten is filled out by Nicolas Lodeiro (28), Sacha Kljestan (31), Michael Bradley (29), Gyasi Zardes (25), Jozy Altidore (27), and Bradley Wright-Phillips (31). Obviously, WhoScored favors the attack.

[ MORE: Cameron pumped for USMNT return ]

For comparison’s sake, the Premier League doesn’t boast a player in its Top Ten over the age of 30, Serie A has two (Dzeko and Fazio), La Liga four (Suarez, Ronaldo, Modric, and Luis), and the Bundesliga one (Robben). And any of those names would thrive in MLS, I imagine.

That’s an awful long preamble to say this: Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely do just fine at Chicago Fire, even in an advanced position.

The rise in young Designated Players in Major League Soccer is no joke, which has directly led to a big mistake amongst many MLS supporters. That is the assumption that older elite players, many who would wrongly earn the league “retirement league” jeers, are going to fail.

Before taking on the idea of Schweinsteiger, it’s important to note that many MLS fans bristle so much at the retirement league gloss that they are quick to lash out when superstar imports begin slowly in MLS. I emphasize “slowly” because stardom is understandably expected given the players’ lofty standards, and poor play is really anything below that standard.

[ MORE: Bellerin talks Barcelona interest ]


Frank Lampard began his MLS tenure as a failure because he was hurt to start his tenure at NYCFC; The Chelsea legend got healthy and was as productive as almost any MLS attacking mid last season. In fact, look at NYC’s Top Five in per-game Squawka stats last season… pretty old.

Steven Gerrard is considered even worse because he didn’t put up gaudy offensive numbers. It’s important to note he was still one of LA’s best all-around per-game weapons in 2016 (and that they, too, were older at the top).

Which brings us to Schweinsteiger. I’ve read two well-read commentaries that question the move by two colleagues I respect a great deal: Andy Edwards’ MLS acumen is almost unrivaled, and Joe Prince-Wright has a great feel for our domestic league.

That’s fine, and he may flop. Any player could flop, of course.

Let’s compare Lampard and Schweinsteiger, as far as we can. The former arrived on the shores of MLS directly in which he managed only 989 minutes in league play for Man City, and three seasons since he was counted on for 2,000-plus minutes at Chelsea.

Schweinsteiger hits Chicago having not done much at all this season at United, and a three seasons after breaking that 2,000 mark at Bayern Munich. In theory, the only difference is that Schweinsteiger will need to find fitness. On the flip side, he’s not carrying a year’s worth of battle wounds.

He’s 32, played plenty in Germany’s EURO 2016 campaign, and is three summers removed from going all but nine minutes of four elimination games in winning a World Cup. He’s two seasons removed from a 20-match, 5-goal, 4-assist season as a deep-lying midfielder in the Bundesliga.

I love MLS and Opening Weekend generally signals something special in my mind, but right now the league is about on par with Eredivisie. For a 20-year-old brand, that’s not an insult, and if Schweinsteiger joined PEC Zwolle I’d consider it a savvy move to improve a team and sell a load of uniforms.

There are definite and legitimate questions about how Chicago will fare with him sitting atop holding midfielders Juninho and Dax McCarty. But Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic have had a looooong time to sort out whether the move makes sense for their formation and plan. We’re talking last summer, well before they scooped up both of the aforementioned center mids.

Not to mention this is a one-year, $4.5 million deal that carries an incredibly minimal amount of risk. Chicago has been tabbed as a team that could surprise and make the playoffs. The question isn’t why, or can this work? It’s why wouldn’t you?

Arsenal’s Bellerin: Barcelona interest would be “special”

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Hector Bellerin is with the Spanish national team this week in what must be a welcome departure from the dour grounds at Arsenal.

The Gunners’ struggles are not inescapable, though, and Bellerin’s electric skill set combined with the uncertainty of Arsene Wenger‘s future has the Arsenal back talking about his future.

[ MORE: Bastian to Chicago Fire ]

Bellerin, 22, left Barcelona in 2011 to join Arsenal’s academy, and admitted Tuesday that the club still has a special place in his heart.

From Sport:

“It’s nice there are a lot of big clubs that are interested in me, but if one of those is Barcelona that’s special. I don’t forget I grew up in that home and I will never forget my stay at Barcelona.”

However, he added: “I left Barcelona because I felt the club was not confident in me, I didn’t feel valued, disenchanted.”

One reason Wenger and Arsenal need to clear up his future plans ASAP is to shore up the plans of players like Bellerin.

There are plenty of reasons the Gunners should want to keep Bellerin around, and the dark clouds have certainly made their way into the Arsenal dressing room. Why wouldn’t Bellerin’s head be turned by home? Another question: Do Bellerin and the Arsenal players want Wenger to stick around or end his time at the Emirates?

What next for Wayne Rooney?

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With reports stating that West Ham have joined the race to sign Wayne Rooney this summer, the Manchester United captain has an interesting few months ahead of him.

[ MORE: Courtois wants Chelsea stay

A report from Sky Sports on Tuesday stated that Rooney, 31, will be allowed to leave Manchester United this summer despite being contracted to the Red Devils until the summer of 2019 and that West Ham would be interested in signing Rooney.

Where does this fall on the likelihood scale? Right around 4 out of 10.

Yes, West Ham probably have the financial clout to hand Rooney similar wages to what he’s on at United (or slightly less) and they will of course offer him a starting spot in the Premier League most weeks which is something he hasn’t had this season after starting just nine times in the Premier League since Jose Mourinho arrived.

On the flip side, Rooney is said to have huge financial offers from both the Chinese Super League and Major League Soccer and would he really want to head to the Hammers and play for a team which will finish seventh or maybe eighth in the table at best?

Kudos to West Ham’s owners for obviously having big plans to take them to the next level but many fans would argue that spending the cash they got for Dimitri Payet would be better spent elsewhere, especially in defense and on a more prolific striker. On paper, Rooney slotting into that No. 10 role behind Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew would make some sense, especially as Manuel Lanzini‘s displays have been up and down this season.

Still, you have to think that United and England’s all-time leading goalscorer will have slightly more attractive offers on the table from overseas. If he wants to remain in the Premier League and not warm his backside on United’s bench for most of next season, West Ham could be his best option but then Everton is lingering in the background with its arm raised.

Rooney’s boyhood club have shown a real appetite to bring him back to Goodison Park for the final years of his career and if the Toffees offload Ross Barkley then the return of the prodigal son would be seen as not only a move for a position they need filling but also a huge commercial success.

For me, if Rooney leaves United for another Premier League team then Everton would be his best option.

Especially as they’d likely play him in his preferred role behind a striker and he’d love to get one more full season in the Premier League under his belt so he can lead England at the 2018 World Cup and then call it quits on the international stage. Wherever Rooney ends up, he has to be playing regularly.