Is Barcelona’s Xavi ready to join New York City FC and Major League Soccer?

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Reports on Tuesday are linking FC Barcelona and Spanish national team legend Xavi with a switch to New York City FC for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season.

According to the details dished out in publications across Europe, Manchester City (who own the vast majority of NYC FC along with the New York Yankees) are desperate to bring Xavi to the Big Apple and make him the new franchises leading light when they begin play in 2015.

Xavi, 33, has spent his entire career at hometown team Barcelona and has won just about every trophy known to mankind in his glittering career as a tiki-taka general in the heart of Barca and Spain’s midfield. When 2015 rolls around Xavi will be 35 and will have just one year left on his current contract with the Catalan giants and City’s hierarchy believe it will send out a message of intent from the very beginning, that their franchise in MLS will play an attractive style of soccer similar to that of Barcelona.

(MORE: Learning more about New York City FC, about DPs and training grounds)

So why not pick up Barca’s creative hub and drop him in Manhattan? Xavi is said to earn $11 million a year in salary and would likely arrive on a free transfer, so from a financial standpoint it doesn’t seem like a problem. City’s owner Sheikh Mansour has already shown he’s willing to splash the cash and the same is likely to apply to the three Designated Players Jason Kreis will have at his disposal when he leads New York City FC into the first steps as an MLS franchise.

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After winning almost every honor in world soccer, does one more challenge in MLS await Xavi?

Speaking of Kreis, he’s surely an admirer of Xavi as the intricate passing style that the Spaniard has helped become a worldwide phenomenon is exactly the way he instructed his former Real Salt Lake team to play. Quick passing, mesmeric movement, making triangles and third-man runs, that’s right out of Kreis’ coaching manual. That said, Xavi may not be running around much at the age of 35 but he’ll surely have a few good seasons left in him and recently the Spanish midfielder sparked intrigue when asked if he will end his career at Barcelona.

“Being tied to Barcelona is a privilege,” Xavi said, “but I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Let’s see if this is just another transfer rumor, or has more substance than most whispers of European legends joining MLS do.

I’m certainly hoping it’s the latter.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg at Olympiacos

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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Wolves clobber Espanyol, Neves scores another magnificent volley

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Diogo Jota had a hat trick and Ruben Neves scored a very Ruben Neves goal as Wolves took a 4-0 lead over Espanyol on Thursday after one leg of Europa League Round of 32 action.

Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, and Matt Doherty recorded assists for Wolves, who will visit the Portuguese side on Feb. 27.

Espanyol had 57 percent of the ball and put four shots on target to Wolves’ five.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Wolves came out of the gates with a show of strength, taking six shots to Espanyol’s zero over the first 25 minutes.

The goal came off an Adama Traore-won corner, Raul Jimenez flicking on to Jota.

Neves’ goal came straight from his area of expertise, a beautiful bit of control with his chest before smashing home from distance.

The 23-year-old Jota scored the first, third, and fourth goals of the contest to give him two Europa League hat tricks this season. He has 12 goals and five assists in 33 appearances across all competitions this season.

Solskjaer, Mata react to Man Utd draw: ‘We can play better’

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Manchester United got an away goal in a 1-1 first leg draw with Europa League foes Club Brugge in Belgium on Thursday.

The goals were pretty individual, a big chip of Sergio Romero followed by Anthony Martial’s powerful dribble to equalize for the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

United outshot the hosts 16-10, but fell short in big chances created by a 3-1 margin.

Here’s Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“It was a game with difficult conditions out there. It was almost like an astroturf. The ball was very quick and lively,” Solskjaer said. “We got the away goal. It was a very good individual goal, worked hard to win the ball and finish so we are happy with that but we know we can play better.”

The second leg is Feb. 27 at Old Trafford, four days after a Premier League encounter with Watford in the same building.

United midfielder Juan Mata had a busy day, winning the majority of his tackles and creating one key pass. He expected better from his team but sees the game for what it is.

Here is Mata, from The Manchester Evening News:

“They scored a goal we shouldn’t concede. We scored a goal from their mistake. we wanted to win, obviously, 1-1 is not a very bad result, but we always want to win,” Mata said. “We just couldn’t find spaces, they defended very well with five plus four. We tried to play a few times through the middle, which we didn’t succeed to do that. Then we scored that goal and from then we played a bit better.”

Solskjaer kept Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench to start the match. Fernandes and Fred came on late.

FC Cincinnati adds Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong

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FC Cincinnati got a much-needed bit of good news toward the end of a rough week in Southern Ohio.

Longtime Ajax attacker Siem De Jong has joined a talented FCC attack ahead of the club’s second MLS season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

De Jong, 31, came up through Ajax’s vaunted academy before transferring to Newcastle United, where he suffered through a series of miserable injuries including two collapsed lungs in 18 months.

He’s been capped six times with two goals for the Netherlands in his career and will join a revitalized Cincinnati attack with Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo.

“The system they want to play is quite similar to the Dutch system, and yeah, Ajax is probably one of the team’s that perfected it,” de Jong said. “Over the years I played there, I’ve learned a lot about this similar philosophy and trying to build up from the back in the Dutch style of play. That was one of the reasons why FC Cincinnati was a good fit for me. Hopefully I can help with the experience I’ve had over the years playing this style of football.”

De Jong scored three times in nine matches this season for Ajax, all of the goals coming in a cup match against third-tier Spakenburg. His other eight matches combined for just 118 minutes.

He may not be with FCC when the season starts as he waits on visa approval.