All of Manchester United’s players “have to fight” for their positions

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Yes, Manchester United have signed four top-class players so far this summer, but manager Louis van Gaal has told them not to expect an automatic starting spot.

[ MORE: De Gea to stay at United? ]

On top of that, he’s also not taking his own position for granted, as the Dutchman has now spent over $320 million in transfer fees alone over the past 12 months and knows the Red Devils have to challenge for trophies in just his second season in charge of the Premier League club.

[ MORE: Di Maria’s future uncertain ]

Van Gaal, 63, has signed Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin so far this summer but speaking in Seattle ahead of the first match of their preseason campaign against Club America on Friday, van Gaal is laying down the law.

“In top sport, no position is ever secure in top sport,” van Gaal said. “Even my position is not secure. The players have to fight. Michael Carrick knows it because I told him at the end of the season. Morgan Schneiderlin has to fight with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Carrick and Daley Blind. These are the players who can play in the centre of midfield. Matteo Darmian has to fight with Antonio Valencia (at right-back). He knows that but Valencia knows that also.”

So, there you have it. Increased competition, and depth, will be hugely important this season as United compete in the UEFA Champions League as well as trying to not only cement their spot in the top four of the PL but challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City for the title.

[ MORE: Rodgers – “Players always want to come to Liverpool” ]

United’s captain Wayne Rooney, speaking to MUTV during their preseason tour, is delighted to see the new guys arrive, and revealed he’s particularly excited to play alongside German national team captain Schweinsteiger.

“Bastian is a very experienced player who has won everything in the game and it’s great that he has chosen to join us and left a team like Bayern Munich to come here,” Rooney said “And Morgan as well – it’s great to see Bastian, him, Matteo and Memphis all come in and give the squad a boost. It’s exciting times and I’m sure over the next week or two it’ll be great for us to get some training sessions in and get to know each other’s games.

“Bastian speaks very good English so that’s a boost for the squad, too. He’s a fantastic player, he’s shown that over the years and it’s great that we’ve got him and I’m sure he’ll be a good player for us. We had the day we first flew out when we first met Bastian and Morgan and they’ve settled in as well as they can do in a couple of days. It’s great to have them with us.”

Many are expecting Schweinsteiger and Schnedierlin to form a central midfield partnership for United in a variation of a 4-2-3-1 formation, but as LVG said, don’t forget about Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera who all did good jobs at different stages of last season. Plus you have the likes of Angel di Maria, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini, Depay and Adnan Januzaj battling for the attacking midfield positions.

We heard about van Gaal’s ruthless streak earlier as he told Victor Valdes he would be sold after refusing to play in a reserve game and he also told Robin van Persie he’s United career was over during a round of golf.

As always, it’s all business from van Gaal, but is he running the risk of upsetting some of the more senior players at Old Trafford? Let’s wait and see what kind of reaction his continuously abrasive nature has on his squad.

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

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Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

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It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.