Giovani Dos Santos being pursued by LA Galaxy?

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This wouldn’t be the first time a Major League Soccer team has been connected to Mexico’s Giovani Dos Santos. Three years ago, links between the current Mallorca man and the Houston Dynamo captivated a few orange minds. Now, thanks to Mallorca’s relegation from the Spain’s La Liga, it’s no surprise “Gio” has hit the MLS rumor mill again, this time with a team and a price that might be a little more enticing to the 24-year-old attacker.

Nothing against the Dynamo, who we all know are a great organization, but for people outside Major League Soccer, there’s one team that outshines them all. Add in a rumored $8 million offer and you can see Dos Santos softening his reluctance to move closer to home, perhaps acquiescing to what would be one of the more notable deals in Major League Soccer history:

[tweet https://twitter.com/Tomas_ESPN/statuses/342398699311362048]

Translated roughly: Gio has an offer from the Galaxy and MLS for $8 million – greater than offers from Valencia and Queretaro (the same Queretaro that will be playing second-division soccer next season).

It’s unlikely that money is a per season number (is that his wages, a transfer fee – what?), but on a relegated team after failing to cement spots at Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, it’s unclear Dos Santos is going to have a ton of better options. He could take less playing time and maybe less money to go to Valencia, or he could look at a two-to-three year stint in Major League Soccer as a way to position himself for a big return to Europe. And  if he does so while playing for the best team in the league on a lucrative deal, all that’s left is overcoming any type of stigma youhemay personally attach to ditching Europe for Major League Soccer.

And at this point, that stigma is all in a player’s mind. If you’re getting good money to play in the post-Beckham Major League Soccer, nobody’s going to begrudge your decision. If it’s good enough for Thierry Henry and Alessandro Nesta, most will see it as good enough for anybody, and while those players are at a markedly different point in their careers than Dos Santos, players will apply the same logic. When you hear random players (think Phil Neville) say they watch Major League Soccer, see improving quality, and note they could see themselves playing in the league, it’s often more than lip service. Whether you agree with it or not, that’s often how they actually feel.

If Giovani Dos Santos can get over the opposing (and still fervent) idea that MLS is a retirement league for European stars, Major League Soccer makes a lot of sense. Especially because he’s not a European star. In CONCACAF, we know what Dos Santos can do, and if he came to Major League Soccer, he would be one of the league’s best players from day one, but at 24 years old, he’s yet to make a major impact in Europe. He showed flashes (well, in one game) at Barcelona, was good at Racing Santander, and was decent enough for Mallorca this year, but he’s not exactly an established difference-maker. He’s not leaving an Bechkam-, Henry-, Di Vaio-esque career behind.

I’m a little more interested in how this would work for LA. In theory, he could play either behind Robbie Keane or wide while Landon Donovan moves into that counter attack-orchestrating role that tore teams apart in last year’s playoffs. And if Donovan doesn’t re-sign after the season, Dos Santos becomes a great option to build an MLS attack around. But I could also see Dos Santos dropped into this year’s team, being a bit of a stylistic mismatch, and aimlessly floating (particularly, in defense) as he fails to find in a team with a very specific ethos.

In that sense, there’s some risk to this move on both sides, although Dos Santos does meet some bigger picture goals. As was discussed when the Kaká-to-Los Angeles rumors were at their peak, the Galaxy’s local deal with Time Warner has kapt them conscious of their market demographics. That means giving Latino and Latina customers reason to identify with the team, whether that translates at the turnstiles or in broadcast viewers.

Dos Santos would check that box, and he does so while providing the Galaxy with what would be one of the league’s bigger talents. Considering the salary and the place Dos Santos finds himself in his career,  this rumor makes sense for all involved. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be notable risks, but there are certainly enough positives for each side to justify the deal.

Crystal Palace – Chelsea, Watford – Norwich: Stream, How to watch

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Crystal Palace – Chelsea promises to be an intriguing clash at Selhurst Park on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a London derby, while Watford – Norwich is a massive game in the relegation battle (start time, 1pm ET online via NBCSports.com).

Christian Pulisic continues to be the main man for Chelsea as the USMNT star put in another superb display in their 3-0 win against Watford and the Blues remain on track to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. As for Palace, they have lost their last three games on the trot without scoring and Roy Hodgson’s side look destined for a midtable finish.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

WATFORD – NORWICH STREAM LIVE

As for Watford, they need a win to boost their survival hopes and if they get it, they will send bottom club. Norwich even closer to their relegation zone.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace – Chelsea and Watford – Norwich.


Team news

Palace will be without James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp and Martin Kelly, while Hodgson may bring back Cheikhou Kouyate, Scott Dann and James McCarthy as they were rested.

Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic through injury, as Fikayo Tomori is also out.

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Crystal Palace are huge underdogs (+650) as Chelsea (-220) are the red-hot favorites given their three wins from their first four games of the restart. The tie at +335 is where the value is at because as we saw with Chelsea’s shock defeat at West Ham last week, they can be dominated from set pieces and hit on the counter. Those two aspects are huge strengths of Palace’s game.

Watford are the favorites (-152) while Norwich (+440) are hoping for their first win, and points, since the restart. The tie at +285 seems intriguing to me.

Predictions

We are all expecting a Chelsea win here but don’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha has a day at makes it a very tough outing for this leaky Chelsea defense. Palace have been fired up and shocked Chelsea before but I think the Blues, led by Pulisic, have too much for Palace. 3-1 to Chelsea. As for Watford against Norwich, I’m going for a 1-1 draw. Watford have been bad since the restart and Norwich have nothing to play for, really. That is dangerous.

Transfer news: Ake to Man United; Rice to Chelsea

Nathan Ake Manchester United
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In the latest transfer news Nathan Ake has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Starting in Manchester, a post-game chat between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nathan Ake has turned heads following Man United’s 5-2 win against Bournemouth at the weekend.

Apparently Solskjaer told Ake: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going.”

Ake, 25, has been linked with a return to Chelsea (who have a $48 million buy-back clause) and Manchester City, but it appears Nathan Ake to Manchester United has some legs. Solskjaer has been looking for a new center back with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dayot Upamecano and others linked to line up alongside Harry Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has struggled at times and is ahead of Eric Bailly in the pecking order and Man United do need to strengthen their defense slightly as they have plenty of options in midfield and attack, although a new true holding midfield could be a must in the next few windows.

If Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, Ake will surely leave and Man United could pick him up for a lot less than $48 million.

Declan Rice to Chelsea
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Switching to west London, Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea this summer.

A report from The Times states that Chelsea want Rice, 21, to return and become a ball-playing center back to shore up their defensive unit.

The report goes on to state that the boyhood Chelsea fan is seen as the perfect successor to John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea defense.

Rice has shone in recent weeks and is the one player in West Ham’s team who has been consistent despite their struggles at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season.

Chelsea have been searching high and low for defensive reinforcements and want more power and strength at center back. Rice can play at center back and in a three he would be prefect. His main position is in holding midfield and his flexibility to strengthen Chelsea’s shaky defense would be key. Rice is close friends with Mason Mount and after leaving Chelsea’s academy as a 14-year-old he has forged out a very good career for himself as a regular for West Ham and England.

Rice would cost a huge sum and this move to Chelsea may hinge on whether or not West Ham are relegated in the final weeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Mexico boss: Jimenez should move to Man United, if he leaves Wolves

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Mexico boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has said Raul Jimenez should move to Manchester United, if he leaves Wolves.

Jimenez, 29, has been consistently linked with a move to Manchester United, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and other European giants and the in-form striker has scored 24 goals in all competitions for the Premier League side this season.

Now his El Tri boss has weighed in on the speculation and speaking to ESPN show Futbol Picante, Martino said he would prefer Raul Jimenez to join Manchester United over Juventus if he left Wolves.

“Looking at it from the outside today I cannot see a specialist No. 9 like Raul at United,” Martino said. “There are many forwards like [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial and the boy who now plays as right winger: [Mason] Greenwood but since Romelu Lukaku left I can’t see a pure No. 9 like Raul. At Juventus he will have more of a fight because [Cristiano] Ronaldo shares the inside of the pitch with whoever plays alongside him, with [Paulo] Dybala or with [Gonzalo] Higuain and maybe he has a tougher fight there.”

Martino went on to state that he wants Jimenez to do whatever he feels happiest doing and moving to a ‘super club’ doesn’t always work out, as he knows from his one season in charge of Barcelona. Martino also brought up the fact that Jimenez has been at Atletico Madrid and Benfica before and that didn’t really work out, so perhaps staying at Wolves is best for Mexico’s star striker.

“Maybe he wants a bigger challenge because he feels that he is in good shape and has to take advantage of it, maybe he wants to stay in this place, maybe the options you read about are not real and do not exist,” Martino said. “I think the best thing is for Raul to make the decision based on the analysis he makes and with the consensus of his family because, when it comes to enjoying, not only the player suffers and enjoy, but also the family do it.”

Jimenez will be linked with plenty of top clubs this summer and he hasn’t exactly slammed the door on links to some of Europe’s big boys in the past. His manager at Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo, responded to Martino’s comments by saying: “It’s not the moment to think about anything else. I’m sure Raul is totally, 100% focused on what he has to do at Wolves.”

Since he arrived at Wolves in the summer of 2018 he’s scored 41 goals in 92 games in all competitions and has become one of the top central strikers in the Premier League. His hold-up and link-up play is envied across the league and Martino is right, he would fit in well at Man United as Anthony Martial could move out wide.

Manchester United probably don’t need to sign another striker, though, so Jimenez heading to Juve or one of the Spanish giants makes more sense. Watch this space.

PHOTOS: New Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 unveiled

New Chelsea away kit
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The new Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 has been unveiled and the Blues will wear it for the first time against Crystal Palace on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea have gone back to a sky blue away jersey and the design has a herringbone knit throughout, which is the same as their new home jersey for the 2020-21 season which debuted last week.

The west London club state that this away kit “adds an injection of millennial swagger – perfect for the confident, emerging talents lighting up Stamford Bridge under head coach Frank Lampard.”

When it comes to a a new Chelsea kit, or any new kit for that matter, there are always plenty of amateur fashion designers out there. But the response to this new away jersey has been largely positive.

They also have a new shirt sponsor in telecommunications company “Three UK” and you can’t really miss their sponsorship logo on the front of the shirt.

Check out the photos below to see what Christian Pulisic and Co. will be wearing in the Premier League next season, and Frank Lampard hopes it will be worn in the Champions League too as the Blues continue to push to seal a top four finish in his debut season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

This new Chelsea kit, like most kits, will divide opinion.