With PSG willing to match Wayne Rooney’s wages, Manchester United has somebody to bail them out

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Read Dominic Fifield’s reporting in the Guardian and it seems the biggest obstacle to Wayne Rooney’s Paris Saint-Germain move has traversed. The Parisians, perhaps remarkably, have agreed to match wages that are now being reported as $22.5 million per year. Few teams would dare match that sum, particularly for a player that’s not playing up to that salary. PSG, however, is willing to make the more.

For Rooney, however, there are other concerns – obstacles that hint at the precarious position in which he’s put himself.  According to Fifield’s reporting, his wife Coleen, who recently gave birth to the couple’s second child, would prefer to stay in England, while Rooney’s concerned about the overall quality of Ligue 1. If only there was a hashtag for the type of problems that come with potential moves to Paris to play in one of the top five leagues in the world.

Each player has to do what’s best for him and his family, but given those quibbles, you wonder why Rooney doesn’t just try to make it work in Manchester. There’s no indication United’s treated him anything but spectacularly, placing him as the face of the club while making him an incredibly well-compensated man. They put up with his moodiness, his dips in form, and put him in a position to leverage the club’s unmatched band to boost his own profile. Is Rooney on nearly as many magazine covers if he’s playing elsewhere?

The main thing problem for Rooney seems to be his place in the team. He’s not happy he was dropped against Real Madrid. He’s not happy he has to battle for a spot. He’s not happy he’s been eclipsed in the team by Robin van Persie.

In short, he’s unwilling to live with the consequences of his form. He’s not somebody that deserves to have his name written in ink. He’s on a team with Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, and Javier Hernandez. That’s in addition to van Persie. To expect to have a spot carved for him would be the height of arrogance; an expectation that, if reports around United are to be believed, is not being matched by his dedication.

If Rooney truly believes he’s entitled to a starting spot, he really should move another team – a club so happy to have him that they’ll let his peccadilloes slide. And perhaps that’s why Alex Ferguson was willing to let him go. When a man comes to you and says he’s unwilling to fight for his spot — that he thinks he’s owed a place in the team — the decision becomes too easy. No wonder Rooney’s nine-year career at United may be over.

That, of course, was probably not the exact tenure of the conversation, but it is implication. Rooney feels he’s owed a place. Now David Moyes gets to make the final decision, and if he wants to move on, at least the new United boss knows Paris Saint-Germain will bail them out.

 

Sampaoli defends Messi, blasts Argentina squad

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Jorge Sampaoli is lambasting his team after a 3-0 loss put Argentina on the edge of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup’s knockout rounds.

“The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Lionel Messi’s brilliance,” Sampaoli said. “The team doesn’t gel as well as it should.”

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Sampaoli said his players could not find a way to get the ball to Messi, and that the introduction of Boca Juniors youngster Cristian Pavón was aimed at opening up the field a little bit.

And Sampaoli is not shying away from the long-discussed comparison between Messi and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. From the BBC:

“Cristiano is a great player and he has achieved a lot with club and country. Right now it is hard to compare these two players because of the ability in the Argentinian squad clouds the judgment. Leo is in a difficult position because the squad doesn’t gel with him. As coach I have to accept that. I don’t feel shame but I definitely feel pain. It has been a long time since I have gone through this experience as a coach and obviously it is more painful when I’m wearing the colours of my country.

“We have no alternative but to give it our all in the final match. We have not performed at the level the country expects. We were ambitious ahead of the game but now it is harder for us as a group. We did think this would be the match we can take off as a team, but it wasn’t in the end. I think this is an excellent squad but we didn’t gel or come together. We need to take advantage of the next match, when the pressure will be on, and hope to progress.”

Now, of course Sampaoli is going to defend Messi, but Argentina’s team is not chopped liver. The side certainly isn’t as deep or solid as Croatia, but 1-1 with Iceland preceded this one.

That said, Argentina’s performance once Croatia essentially decided to surround Messi was unacceptable. If favored Nigeria doesn’t handle its business against Iceland, the World Cup finalists won’t have a prayer of going back.

Modric urges humility after big win, stunning goal (video)

AP Photo / Ricardo Mazalan
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There are few teams who’ve looked as strong as Croatia at the World Cup in Russia.

[ RECAP: Argentina 0-3 Croatia ]

Zlatko Dalic’s men now have a pair of shutout wins against decent competition, topping Nigeria 2-0 over the weekend before hammering Argentina 3-0 on Thursday.

The nature of those performances will have many, us included, debating just how far Croatia can run in this tournament. Veteran midfielder Luka Modric is hoping his team doesn’t do the same.

Let’s not be euphoric or get ahead of ourselves,” Modric said. “Of course this win will boost our confidence for the next game, and we have shown we can create opportunities, but let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

Modric noted that Willy Caballero‘s howler “was a shot in the arm,” but added that they had played a “perfect game.”

That’s true. And while so much focus will be on Messi’s struggles, don’t sleep on the terrific performance of Vatreni. 

Modric also seemed to bristle when asked about shutting down Messi.

“I don’t want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player.”

Croatia smashes disheveled Argentina

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
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Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic have Croatia in the knockout rounds and Argentina on the verge of World Cup disaster.

Croatia scored a trio of second half goals, one aided by a Willy Caballero howler, in a 3-0 win in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday.

Argentina will enter its final match against Nigeria on the outskirts of the knockout rounds regardless of how Nigeria-Iceland ends on Friday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Ivan Perisic forced a big save out of Wily Caballero for an early Croatia corner kick that came to nothing.

Messi had a chance stopped inside of 10 minutes, then started a play that Dejan Lovren blocked for a corner in the 13th.

Enzo Perez missed an open goal off a poor Croatia giveaway in the 30th minute.

There were a pair of fouls not out of place on a red card lowlight reel, one for each team, but neither resulting in a sending off.

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Croatia took the lead through Caballero’s gaffe and Rebic’s smash in the 54th.

Argentina nearly answered moments later. After a mazy Messi dribble, Argentina regained possession in the 64th minute, spearheaded by a Gonzalo Higuain run that led to a corner.

Croatia came close to making it 2-0, as Mario Mandzukic couldn’t turn a flick on frame and instead saw it glide into the outside of the goal.

Then Modric put the match to bed as the clock hit 80, an absolute beauty. Another huge defensive mistake allowed Mateo Kovacic to cue up Rakitic for the third.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

WATCH: Caballero blunder punished as Rebic rip puts Argentina on ropes

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Willy Caballero has made one of the bigger blunders in recent World Cup history.

His Argentina side needs at least a point from Thursday’s match-up with Croatia, and the match remained scoreless into halftime.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But 10 minutes after the break, Caballero flubbed a clearance in a big way.

The Argentina goalkeeper then could only watch as Ante Rebic kept his composure to blast a side volley into the goal.

It was a fine finish, to be sure, but not possible without such a terrible gaffe.