Six players to leave Fulham, including veteran Mark Schwarzer

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If 40-year-old Mark Schwarzer wants to return home, there’s a nice Australian Marquee spot open for him with the Western Sydney Wanderers. Last year’s regular season champions may be league owned, and Western Sydney may be slightly distinct from Schwarzer’s home town of Sydney, but if the former Fulham man is looking for a cushy landing spot to play out the rest of his days, he could do worse than land next to Tony Popovic and Shinji Ono with the Wanderers.

That the Premier League stalwart is, in fact, a former Cottager was confirmed today. Having turned down a new deal in the wake of Fulham’s summer acquisition of Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg, Schwarzer’s set to take his 16 seasons and 502 appearances worth of experience elsewhere. While he’s the only international player to ever cross the 500-appearance mark in the Premier League, it’s unclear he’ll get the add to his total, with few teams able to offer more than Fulham’s backup role to a man who turns 41 on October 6.

Also leaving Craven Cottage is Simon Davies, who was the longest tenured player at Fulham until his contract expired on Sunday. Davies, probably best known for his contributions during Fulham’s run to the 2009-10 Europa League final, had been with the club since 2007 but had seen playing time wane since the departure of Roy Hodgson.

Perhaps a slightly more surprising departure is that of Chris Baird, though with Sascha Riether having emerged at his right back position, the Northern Ireland international may be seeking first team opportunities elsewhere.

Giorgos Karagounis, the 125-time Greece international who arrived in London just after the start of last season, is also leaving the club. In his one season at Craven Cottage, the 36-year-old made 25 appearances, scoring once.

And perhaps the least renown departure will be Csaba Somogyi. The Hungarian goalkeeper was Martin Jol’s first signing two years ago but never made a first team appearance.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.

Men In Blazers Podcast: De Gea heroics; Liverpool, Man City wins

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Rog and Davo applaud David De Gea‘s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Plus, wins for Liverpool and City in the title race.

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