Henrikh Mkhitaryan joins Dortmund for $36 million, as Liverpool miss out

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Midfield prodigy Mario Götze is gone, and now Robert Lewandowski is leaving on a free to Bayern next season… It was about time Borussia Dortmund fans had some good news, so here it is.

This morning the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League runners up announced Armenian attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has signed for a club record fee of $36 million from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donestk.

“We are delighted that we got a fantastic new signing for the attacking midfield role in Henrikh Mkhitaryan,” said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, Borussia Dortmund’s chairman said, “It was not an easy transfer, but we really wanted to have Henrikh – and now we have him!”

So as Dortmund rejoiced at the capture of the highly-rated Mkhitaryan, can they kick on with him as their focal point next season?

He shone in the Ukrainian Premier Liga, with 25 goals in 29 games last season and the 24-year-old was hounded by Liverpool all summer before deciding to join Dortmund. He is likely the instant replacement for Götze and if he succeeds, that will be a tremendous piece of business. It is not often you can replace your star player and get a profit, if Mkhitaryan excels he will make the Dortmund front office look like mathematical geniuses who can rival Harry Redknapp’s once indelible scent for a bargain on the transfer market.

MORE: Robert Lewandowski to sign for Bayern Munich in 2014

One thing we do know is that the young Armenian is quite the cunning linguist, as BVB’s official website claims he can speak English, Portuguese, French and Russian. And some others.

Impressive.

But on the field his languid, fluid style of play fits right in with what Dortmund need. Someone he can take the ball from the defensive midfielders and drive forward with purpose and pace, but can also pick out a pass. Just like Götze. Mkhitaryan always seems to have time on the ball and also times his runs from midfield perfectly. Just like Götze.

Can Mkhitaryan drive Dortmund onto another incredibly successful campaign in the Champions League? He has done it for several seasons with Donestk, so why not.

If Dortmund’s defensive midfield duo of Sven Bender and İlkay Gündoğan can get the ball to Mkhitaryan quickly and efficiently, he will do the rest.

Despite the disappointment of losing Götze to Bayern and Lewandowski also casually on his way to Munich next season, Dortmund’s fans should be hugely excited by the player they’ve acquired. Just watch the You Tube compilation video below.

There is a reason why Mkhitaryan was chased by Europe’s biggest clubs. But there is also a reason he chose Dortmund. This player and this club were meant for each other. Let the romance begin.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 12 — Time to settle Groups A & B

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Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Monday, and with it begins the final round of group games to decide the 16 teams headed to the knockout rounds. For the next four days, we’ll be treated to four games each day.

Also, the end of 8 a.m. ET kickoffs. Hooray for sleeping in.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

First up, the conclusion of Group A, where both the hosts, Russia, and Uruguay have already advanced with wins in their first two games. Now, the two meet in the southwestern city of Samara to determine who’ll go through to the round of 16 as the group winners, and who’ll be the runners-up. Most likely awaiting either of them will be Spain and Portugal, pending the order in which they finish in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Speaking of Group B, Spain will finish group play against fourth-place and points-less Morocco, while Portugal have a tricky meeting with third-place Iran, who sit just a point behind the reigning European champions. The winner of Group B will face the runners-up of Group A, and vice versa.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 25

Group A
Uruguay vs. Russia: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Spain vs. Morocco: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Portugal: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Transfer rumor roundup: Emery raiding Sevilla; Wilshere’s suitor(s)

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Unai Emery has reportedly been in contact with at least one former player, Ever Banega, in an attempt to convince the Argentine midfielder to join him at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

Banega, who’ll turn 30 on Friday, played two seasons under Emery at Sevilla — where they won back-to-back Europa League titles (Banega was only at the club for the second and third of three straight from 2013-2016).

With Banega reportedly on the fence about whether or not to leave Sevilla again — he only just returned last summer after one season at Inter Milan — Emery is said to have made a personal call after Arsenal’s bid of roughly $23 million triggered the release clause in Banega’s contract. Sevilla will join Arsenal in the Europa League next season after finishing seventh in La Liga.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Jack Wilshere announced last week that he will leave Arsenal this summer — thus opening up the handful of games for which he was healthy and fit to play each season, perhaps for Banega — which leads us nicely to the final bit of transfer talk for Sunday: West Ham are interested in the 26-year-old, but are reportedly only willing to offer him a one-year contract.

The Hammers’ hesitancy is, of course, a response to his years-long battle with injuries — he’s made just 66 appearances over the last four PL seasons (three with Arsenal, one on loan to Bournemouth).

Two other clubs to keep an eye on, as they’ve reportedly indicated interest in Wilshere and/or been in contact already: Everton and Juventus.