Bayern’s Shaqiri says he wants out, and he has every reason to go

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A frustrated Xherdan Shaqiri has stayed the course at Bayern Munich so far.

Thing is, he has every reason to leave.

The Swiss midfielder showcased his talents at the 2014 World Cup, proving an electric jolt of energy to any squad and also bagged a mind-boggling goal to go with it. He’s continued that form for his country in Euro 2016 qualification, with three goals in his last two matches, against Lithuania and San Marino.

This winter, injuries across the top five leagues could provide an opening to immediate playing time at a top club, an opportunity which the 23-year-old should not pass up.

“Of course I want to be playing more,” he told Swiss paper Blick a few days ago. “I wanted a move in the summer, of course, but the club made their decision and I’ve just got to live with it.”

“I just felt after the World Cup that it would be better for me to try something new. I thought about moving and I had lots of inquiries, but Bayern decided I had to stay, and you can’t do much about that as a player.”

Despite his obvious talents on the ball, at Bayern Munich it’s not hard to tell why he doesn’t start. With just 312 minutes this season across eight Bundesliga appearances, Shaqiri is stuck behind Xabi Alonso and Mario Gotze in the center of the pitch, and even with their injury crisis at the back, he doesn’t appear to be a factor for the starting lineup, especially not with Bastian Schweinsteiger on the verge of his return.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have just seen Luka Modric go down for months with an injury, and while Sami Khedira can get forward and create in his place, Khedira is much more of a holding midfielder, and therefore not the same player. Shaqiri would fit perfectly as a direct replacement for Modric, as a player with much more fluidity forward.

A team like Manchester United is in dire need of a player like Shaqiri. With Wayne Rooney bearing the brunt of the creative force, pairing him with Shaqiri behind Robin van Persie would allow either player freedom forward without worry. Ander Herrera was a great fit in that squad and flourished early in his Red Devil tenure, but the Spaniard got hurt and hasn’t seen much time since. Shaqiri would fill that role nicely, especially with Daley Blind now down for a few months.

There are reports that Manchester United is after Shaqiri, despite executive Ed Woodward today telling fans not to expect a “short-term” purchase in January. Thing is, Shaqiri’s not a stop-gap measure. He would be a player for the future.

Even Liverpool could use a player like Shaqiri. Steven Gerrard has shown signs of slowing this season and even the end of last, and at 23 years old Shaqiri could be a perfect successor to that throne. The club does have Jordan Henderson available for that role, but a combination of the two could be deadly. The Reds have been reportedly interested as well.

The list of good fits goes on, and any club worth its salt could benefit from a player like Shaqiri. Any club, except the stacked midfield at Allianz Arena.

Shaqiri said he plans to sit down with the club to discuss his future before the winter transfer window opens, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t express a strong desire to leave.

“I’ve got to speak with Bayern before anybody,” Shaqiri said, “and we will sit down again this winter. I just get the impression I would never be a regular starter, not even if I score in every game.”

For every neutral fan’s benefit, we hope Shaqiri can find a home where he fits and belongs, because more Shaqiri is a good thing for all involved.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow