Manchester United set to buy big in January

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With his side slumping at 12th in the Premier League table, Manchester United boss David Moyes has been told by the Glazer family that he’ll have their support for a splurge in the January transfer window.

Moyes is expected to target Everton’s Leighton Baines and Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrer, both of whom the Scot failed to purchase this past summer.

Everton rejected United’s $24 million (£15m) bid for Baines while Bilbao did the same when Moyes offered $43 million (£26.5m). Early indications show that Everton will need over $32.4 million (£20m) to part ways with the left back while the Basque club will want Herrer’s $48.7 million (£30m) release clause paid in full.

That spending alone would take United to well over the $80 million (£50m) mark and few expect United to stop there as a center-back and second midfielder are also in the cards. Daniele De Rossi, Luka Modric and Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder have all been named players of interest for United.

This past summer’s transfer market was a disaster for United, failing in bids for Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas and Gareth Bale before scrambling to buy Marouane Fellaini for $45 million (£27.5m), which was $6.5 million (£4m) more than the Belgian’s release clause (which expired on August 1st).

This past weekend Moyes claimed that United were some distance away from challenging the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

“To win the Champions League, you have to have five or six world-class players,” Moyes said. “If you look at Bayern Munich, they have five or six nearly world-class players. Look at Barcelona, who had [that] in the past and Real Madrid have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to get at to win it. We’ve not got that yet, but what we have got is experience and several players who are in that category or close to it. But the job when I took over was always going to be that we would have to make changes and improve as we went along.”

The question then becomes, is Leighton Baines, Ander Herrer, Daniele De Rossi, Luka Modric or Wesley Sneijder a world class player?

The answer obviously depends on one’s definition of the term “world class.” Most would agree, however, that a world-class player is one of the best in the world at his respective position. With the exception of possibly Baines – and even that is highly doubtful – neither Herrer, De Rossi, Modric or Sneijder can be considered a top three player at his respective position.

Which is to say this – Manchester United may be set to buy big this January and although they will be paying world-class prices, they don’t appear intent on buying world-class players.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

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

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.

Uruguay tops Russia & Group A with perfect record

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The host nation looked strong in its opening two matches, but they ran into a far superior side on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Uruguay finished atop Group A with a 3-0 win over Russia in Samara, behind goals from Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and an own goal from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev.

With the victory, the South Americans win Group A with nine points, while Russia finishes runners’ up with six points.

Suarez gave the Uruguayans the lead after just 10 minutes, when the Barcelona man struck via a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.

The goal for Suarez is his second of the World Cup, which leads Uruguay.

The lead was quickly doubled in the 23rd minute, when Diego Laxalt unleashed a shot from distance that took a wicked deflection and went beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Laxalt’s effort hit Russia attacker Denis Cheryshev before gliding towards the near post for the own goal.

The fortunes for Russia just got worse as the first half wore on, and the hosts were reduced to 10 men just beyond the hour mark when Igor Smolnikov was sent off after picking up his second yellow card.

Meanwhile, it had been a disappointing start to the World Cup for Edinson Cavani, but the PSG man finally got a goal for his country in the late stages of the match to extend the lead to 3-0.

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

Uruguay will face the runner up in Group B, while Russia will await the Group B winner in the Round of 16.

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”