Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Ronaldo, Pedro to Manchester United

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The Manchester Evening News claims that Manchester United want to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo, 30, to help guide them back to winning a Premier League title.

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Ronaldo scored for Real Madrid in their 4-1 demolition of Manchester City in Melbourne on Friday, but it is said the Portuguese superstar isn’t keen on working for Rafael Benitez at Real. United were consistently linked with a move for Ronaldo last summer, and the summer before that, as the reigning World Player of the Year has always spoken fondly about his time at Old Trafford from 2003-09 when he won three PL titles and a UEFA Champions League. With the Red Devils selling Ronaldo for a then world record fee of $120 million back in 2009, they may now have to pay somewhere around that to get the forward back in Manchester for the final years of his career.

[ MORE: Should U.S. fire Klinsmann? ]

The Daily Express says United will also add Barcelona forward Pedro in the coming days. Pedro, 27, has spent his entire career with the Catalan club but has seen his playing minutes diminish in recent seasons after the arrival of Neymar and Luis Suarez at the Nou Camp. Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has refused to reveal Pedro’s decision when asked about the Spanish international earlier this week, although there has been confirmation that the release clause in his contract has been reduced to around $30 million.

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Are United about to add Pedro to their group of forwards?

Do United really need another wide-attacking player? Pedro could play centrally but he is certainly not a target man and the Red Devils have Wayne Rooney and James Wilson in their squad who could currently play in the lone role up front. The same report in the Express say Ashley Young could be sold to Aston Villa, while Marouane Fellaini has been linked with a move to AC Milan as a busy summer of transfers at Old Trafford looks set to continue.

Abou Diaby is in talks with West Bromwich Albion about a “pay-as-you-play” deal. The French midfielder, 29, was released by Arsenal this summer after 10 injury-hit seasons in north London. Diaby showed plenty of promise as a youngster but has only played in one PL game since the start of the 2013-14 season. He was previously linked with a move to FC Dallas in MLS, but the Daily Mirror claims he is having a medical with Tony Pulis’ West Brom.

Finally, with Arsene Wenger giving an update on his transfer business after claims of a $300 million warchest emerged, the Sun newspaper say Arsenal is willing to pay $12 million for Juventus striker Fernando Llorente. The 30-year-old former Athletic Bilbao striker was used mostly of the bench for the Italian champions last season but he could provide some valuable cover for Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck who both suffered with injuries last season.

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore

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If Jozy Altidore keeps up his current scoring pace, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter will have no choice but to start him in the future.

[FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday]

For the second consecutive game since returning from the Gold Cup, Jozy Altidore found the back of the net, and once again it was in tremendous fashion. Taking a cross in from the right, Altidore realized his near-post run was too close to goal. Instead of controlling the pass or letting it by him, Altidore caressed the ball with the inside of his right heel, directing the ball past New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and in for a goal.

Altidore scored a brilliant free kick last week to help secure all three points. Toronto FC inside ten minutes is already on its way to another three.

Watch the goal below.

FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday: Atlanta, TFC, Red Bulls in action

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It’s an exciting four-game slate in some Wednesday MLS action, headlined by Toronto FC hosting the New York Red Bulls. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore always seem to relish playing their old club, but it’s also a crucial game for the playoff picture

Toronto FC is right on the red line to make it into the playoffs, and three points tonight will go a long way to helping them make it there. The Red Bulls meanwhile can jump into second place with a win and will be just two points back from the first-place Philadelphia Union.

[ FOLLOW: Wednesday’s MLS action ]

Elsewhere, Atlanta United looks to rebound from a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders with a trip across the continent back home as Atlanta hosts the Houston Dynamo. Emerson Hyndman has earned the start for his new club while Brandon Vasquez starts ahead of MLS record signing Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez.

New addition Mo Adams also makes the bench for Atlanta.

Also tonight, the New England Revolution host the Vancouver Whitecaps, and new signing Gustavo Bou makes his first start for New England. In addition, the Chicago Fire host the Columbus Crew in a match between two struggling Midwest clubs.

Follow along with us at the link above and stay right here at PST for plenty of postgame analysis.

UCL Roundup: Celtic advances to second round

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Scottish Premier League champion Celtic advanced mostly with ease to the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

In the first official home game of the season at Celtic Park, Celtic defeated FK Sarajevo, 2-1, advancing with a 5-2 aggregate victory. Manager Neil Lennon was able to rest some starters, including Craig Gordon, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths as Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor scored for the hosts.

A second half turnover led to a wide-open Benjamin Tatar in the box, who finished to tie the score at 1-1 on the night. McGregor’s 76th minute smash from 30-yards out gave Celtic the lead again, which it held on to for the rest of the game.

With the win, Celtic advances to face Nõmme Kalju of Estonia, with matches set to take place July 23/24 and July 30/31.

Here’s a roundup of other UCL first round qualifying second leg scores.


Riga FC 0-0 Dundalk (4-5 on penalty kicks)

AIK 3-1 Ararat

Qarabag 2-0 Partizani

Rosenborg 4-0 Linfield

Ludogorets 2-3 Ferencvaros

CFR Cluj 3-1 Astana

Piast Gliwice 1-2 BATE Borisov

Maribor 2-0 Valur

Sutjeska 1-1 Slovan Bratislava

North and South Korea to meet in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in an Asian qualifying group for soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The Korean neighbors will play each other home and away in the five-nation Group H that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka. Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in Wednesday’s draw that involved 40 national teams and some political sensitivities. The Saudis, which played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore.

Top-ranked Iran was drawn with neighboring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates is top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Australia, which plays in the Asian soccer confederation, will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

World Cup host Qatar also plays as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. Qatar will play Oman, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh in Group E.

China is in Group A with Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan is in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

The eight groups play from September through June.

Group winners and the four best runners-up advance to another group stage, played from September 2020 to October 2021. Those 12 teams also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup. A fifth nation can advance to Qatar in an intercontinental playoff round in March 2022.