Liverpool looking to lock down Shakhtar’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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Hot day for Liverpool as the Reds are reportedly close to signing Shakhtar Donetsk’s goal-scoring sensation, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

While Shakhtar is widely known as a creative side due to their Brazilian contingency, there is no player who encompasses their free-flowing style more than the 24 year old Mkhitaryan. The son of one of Armenia’s best known footballers, Hamlet Mkhitaryan, ‘Heno’ made his debut for Armenia’s largest and most successful club, Pyunik Yerevan, at the age of 17.

At Pyunik he contributed to four Armenian Premier League titles (2006-09) before moving to Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk in 2009. It was there that the attacking midfielder was handed the captain’s arm band at the age of 21 and was so impressive that Shakhtar purchased him in 2010 for a fee of just over £5 million ($7.9m).

After helping Shakhtar to win the treble (Premier League, Ukrainian Cup, Super Cup) in his first year at the club, Mkhitaryan had a dominant sophomore season scoring 11 goals in 36 matches. The Armenian international was named Shakhtar’s player of the season and from there Mkhitaryan truly came into his own, hauling in 25 goals in the 2012-13 Premier League season.

Mkhitaryan is a versatile, multi-tooled player. While typically deployed as an attacking midfielder, Mkhitaryan’s nose for goal makes him a dangerous option as a central striker while his vision and ability to use both feet allow him to drop into a holding role and play as a deep lying playmaker.

The catching point for Liverpool getting this deal done, of course, is money.

The Merseyside club are believed to value Mkhitaryan at £14 million ($22.2m) but given the player’s extraordinary output and age, Shakhtar are looking for compensation in the neighborhood of £22 million ($34.5m).

If Liverpool do convince Shakhtar to deal, many believe this would be a massive coup for the Reds as the prolific Armenian is also on the radar of Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

With Liverpool and Shakhtar set to meet in the coming days, the Kop could secure it’s third major signing of the summer by the end of this week.

MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

WATCH: Striker scores potentially unprecedented goal while helping teammate

Photo by John Thys/EuroFootball/Getty Images
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“Look, I know you’re injured, but I’m gonna be right back. Got a goal to score for us.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva forward Habib Habibou scored what can only be described as an unprecedented goal — at least in terms of being captured on video — Israel this weekend.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Habibou, 31, and his club were locked in scoreless tussle with Maccabi Netanya on Saturday when one of his teammates was injured in the box.

The CAR striker, formerly of Zulte Waregem and Royal Charleroi, was taking care of said teammate when he spotted an 87th minute spilled rebound.

What was he gonna do, really, other than dart onto the loose ball, score the match-winner, and then return to his ailing mate?

Petah Tikva won 1-0.

Juventus executive: Bring season Serie A game abroad

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
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Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci likes La Liga’s idea of taking a regular season match outside of its domestic borders.

Ricci would like Serie A to explore a similar move, saying Italian soccer can only benefit from putting its brand in other markets.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.

Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:

“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”

Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.