José at it again… as Gonzalo Higuaín says Mourinho wants him at Chelsea

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For most of this summer, we were left wondering if the old José Mourinho we knew and loved had been discarded somewhere in the Santiago Bernabeu.

But now transfer season is hotting up, he’s back with a bang.

After cranking the heat up on Manchester United and Wayne Rooney in the past few days, Mourinho now looks to be hijacking Arsenal’s bid to sign Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Earlier today the Argentine international had this to say. “Mourinho wants me there.”

Simple enough, but those words must be incredibly painful to Arsenal fans who thought a deal to get Higuain was already in the bag.

A move to the Emirates has been speculated for some weeks now, but over the past five to seven days it’s all gone quiet. Ominously so.

That’s because Mourinho could move to upset yet another Premier League team before the season has even begun. We’ve already seen the damage his bid for Wayne Rooney has done at Manchester United, with the club left reeling at the prospect of losing one of their prized possessions to a clear PL title contender.

Now Arsenal are having their summer transfer targets picked off by the Blues, as Mourinho is marking his return to England with the swaggering panache and likeable arrogance we all remember from before.

(MORE: Chelsea and Wayne Rooney, Is this what England missed about José Mourinho?)

Would Higuain fit in at Chelsea? He’s a clinical striker who given a chance will calmly slot the ball home with both feet and is just as adept with his head. Higuain has scored 111 goals in his last 209 games, adding 40 assists in that time. Mourinho loved him at Real Madrid, so there could be some truth in all this.

Chelsea will supply a conveyor-belt of chances to whatever striker plays in the central lone role that Mourinho will likely adopt, it’s down to them to finish the chances. Higuain is perhaps one of the best finishers in the game today, so he’s a good fit.

But does Moruinho really want Higauin like the Argentine claims? Or is the Portuguese manager just playing yet another mind game to get his Chelsea squad ahead of their Premier League rivals?

(MORE: Transfer Rumors, Higuain heading to Arsenal)

If nothing materializes with Higuain to Chelsea and he ends up joining Serie A side Napoli, many will point to Mourinho’s mind games costing Arsenal a top striker.

Arsene Wenger and David Moyes can’t be happy with Mourinho’s antics this summer. With just under a month until the season begins, Mourinho’s rhetoric has already been ramped up several notches.

Just wait until the season begins.

Report: Minnesota United chasing Ecuadorian national teamer

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Minnesota United may be hoping another Ibarra can cure what ails its attack.

Romario Ibarra, 23, is on the Loons’ radar according to The Athletic‘s Kristian Dyer and Jeff Rueter, who say Minnesota would like to land the Ecuadorian when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Ibarra was limited to eight matches for Universidad Católica this season as he battled through a lingering metatarsal fracture. But he’s scored against Argentina and Chile in each of his appearances for the national team, both World Cup qualifiers.

From The Athletic:

Sources say that Ibarra’s contract is unlikely to make him a designated player, leaving Quintero as the club’s sole DP. (It could depend, in part, on the size of the transfer fee.) Based on league standards, his salary will likely be drawn from Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract seems likely.

Ibarra’s older brother Renato plays for Club America, and has 36 caps.

Minnesota is six points outside the West’s final playoff spot, and has scored just 17 goals in 14 matches.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal field set

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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to one non-MLS entrant after LAFC fought past Sacramento Republic’s dogged effort to make it two, twice equalizing en route to a 3-2 win.

[ MORE: TFC extends Bono ]

Louisville City won a battle of USL sides in Wednesday’s final day of fifth round action, knocking off Nashville SC by a 2-1 score.

Now attention turns to the quarterfinals, where USL champions Louisville City will face the Chicago Fire on July 18.

All four quarterfinals will be staged on that day, and the winner of Louisville-Chicago will face the winner of the duel between Philadelphia Union and Orlando City.

The other side of the bracket shows Houston Dynamo against Sporting KC, and LAFC against the Portland Timbers.

Chicago and KC have won the cup an MLS-best four times each, while Philadelphia has finished second twice.

The remaining quarterfinalists have not advanced to a USOC final.

Sprawling translated Emery interview talks PSG, Guardiola, more

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given a sprawling interview, translated by France Football News, in which he discusses his history and his philosophies.

The interview was conducted after Emery was dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain but before he was hired by the Gunners.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

It’s a fascinating read, with Emery going deep into his relationship with Neymar, the need for PSG to get an “A-ha” goal for its history books, and much, much more.

The interview is with Marti Perarnau, the author of “Pep Confidential,” and there are plenty of good nuggets regarding the Manchester City boss, as well as Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.

It’s fairly clear that Emery figured he’d be going to a new league, and he certainly seems like a guy fit for a project like succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. For one thing, he’s proud of his team’s style.

That’s something valued by the North London set, and Emery pointed out that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola at Man City had to fail before they succeeded.

Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.

My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.

And here’s just a quick nugget on the importance of playmaking, and how good players make a coach look better.

During his first match against Toulouse at the Parc des Princes, we get corner. Neymar takes it quickly and Kurzawa scores. We hadn’t worked that at all with him. Afterwards, I told Neymar, “My work is limited to your strokes of genius.”

Love it. Arsenal seems like it’s in good hands. Read the full interview here.

Khedira laughs off Swedish reporter’s offer of tickets home

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Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira brushed off a gesture from a Swedish reporter, trading a bit of banter ahead of Germany’s big World Cup match against Sweden on Saturday.

Germany fell 1-0 to Mexico in its opener while Sweden beat South Korea, leading a playful Swede to hand Khedira boarding passes for a flight home to Germany.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Khedira’s reply? He joked that Sweden won’t be a problem and he’ll use the tickets after the World Cup Final.

From Goal.com:

“After this bad start, we know that it’s super difficult, but we know that we are a strong team. We analysed the game, we saw Sweden play and we are sure that we are winning this game.

“I think we’ll need them [plane tickets] on the 16th of July.”