Nemanja Vidic’s agent ‘would rule out’ an extension at Manchester United

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Dealing with a three-game losing streak, the last thing Manchester United needs is prominent players threatening to jump ship, but between the increased rumblings surrounding Wayne Rooney’s contract and the idea Nemanja Vidic might be going elsewhere, two big chunks of the team’s core are in doubt. Yet whereas Rooney is locked into his United deal into 2014-15, the team’s captain is in the final six months of his contract, meaning he could sign an agreement with another team at any time.

If Vidic’s agent is to believed, that team won’t be Manchester United, with Silvano Martina telling Italian radio that the 32-year-old Serbian international is unlikely to sign an extension with the Red Devils.

From reporting by The Guardian:

“Vidic, given his contract situation, has several teams looking at him,” his agent Silvano Martina told Radio Crc in Napoli. “Vidic is a very good player and will have no trouble finding a new club. For the time being we are remaining calm. However, at the moment, I would rule out an extension with Manchester United.”

The question is to what extent this threat is to be believed. Would Nemanja Vidic, in the face of a fair offer (if that ever comes), really walk away from Manchester United? Possibly. It’s possible Vidic wants to move on, adding a second storied team to his résumé before entering the final phase of his career. Maybe Martina’s comments reflect the viewpoint of a man who just wants to change things up.

Given the context of the comment, however, this seems like posturing. Before making the ‘rule out’ claim, Martina describes the market for Vidic. He’s a good player, teams are looking at him, and he’ll have no trouble finding a club, the agent claims. The implication: Manchester United’s clearly going to have to offer Martina’s client something good to turn away from this opportunity.

Okay, perhaps I’m reading too much into the comments, but it’s far easier for me to believe that a player entering the last part of his contract is trying to get a new deal than imagining somebody in his seventh season at a club and entering the final part of his career is moving on without a better explanation. “I want to play for another team” would be a great explanation, but instead of providing that, Martina described why Manchester United should be offering Vidic a deal.

When a player reaches a certain age, the Red Devils do this. They don’t offer multi-year deals, and they usually wait until the new year to start getting their guys signed up for the following season. It’s why Ryan Giggs seems to be perpetually on a one-year contract, and it’s also why Rio Ferdinand’s future is in doubt. Even 32-year-old Michael Carrick’s recently signed contract extension only goes until June 2015, though there is an option to extend it another season.

It’s a lack of commitment that also gives players an out, something that could cost United one of their two best (if not their best) central defender. But based on how Martina’s going about things, the agent’s ‘rule out’ stance seems negotiating than true declaration of intent. If the reason Vidic wasn’t interested in a contract extension was a desire to play elsewhere, it would have been put in those terms.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfield unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

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The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”