Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Van Dijk to Southampton, Benzema to Arsenal

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According to the Daily Mirror, Southampton have tabled a $12 million bid for Celtic’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

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The 24-year-old is a flamboyant center back who loves to stride out of defense with the ball, and it is believed that if Celtic do not progress to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League then the Scottish champions will cash in on van Dijk. The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Sunderland have all been linked with Van Dijk in the past, but Ronald Koeman’s side could have the upper hand due to Koeman’s legendary status in Holland and Saints already attracting a number of Dutch internationals, such as Jordy Clasie and Maarten Stekelenburg, and several players from the Dutch Eredivisie. Southampton have already signed center back Steven Caulker on loan from QPR for the season, but they have let two young center backs — Jordan Turnbull and Jack Stephens — go out on loan in the last few days.

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Rumors linking Arsenal with a move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema continue to circulate, with Spanish outlet AS claiming that Arsene Wenger is willing to pay $75 million for the French international striker. Benzema, 27, has long been linked with a move to the Premier League but when asked about the supposed interest in Benzema following Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday, Wenger said no bid has been made for Benzema and he doesn’t know where the report has come from. Theo Walcott, usually a winger, started up top for Arsenal on Sunday and Olivier Giroud came off the bench to replace him for the final 25 minutes. Was Wenger sending out a message to the Arsenal board that he needs a new striker by playing Walcott up front? Who knows.

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One piece of business which looks more likely to happen for Arsenal is the signing of 15-year-old goalkeeper Joao Virginia from Benfica. A report from Portugal claims that the youngster, who had a trial with Manchester United earlier this year, has snubbed the Red Devils and has decided to join Arsenal on a four-year deal. It looks like Wenger is up to his old tricks again, as the French manager loves to buy talent from across Europe and nurture them through Arsenal’s academy. Highly-rated teenagers Donyell Malen and Ismael Bennacer have also joined the Gunners in recent days.

Finally, the Guardian says that Sunderland will look to add some serious steel to its midfield by signing Yann M’Vila and Leroy Fer in the coming days. M’Vila, 25, is a French international midfielder who is currently embroiled in a despite over pay with Russian club Rubin Kazan. The holding midfielder is expected to complete his move in the coming days. As for Fer, the Dutch international midfielder missed much of last season for QPR through injury but managed to score some stunning goals and is said to be available on loan from the Loftus Road outfit after their relegation to the Championship.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Report: Edinson Cavani set to join Inter Miami next summer

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Edinson Cavani is reportedly set to make a big splash in Florida.

According to Uruguayan journalist Alvaro Izquierdo, Cavani, 32, is set to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami next summer. The club will make their MLS debut next season.

The specifics of the supposed move are not know, but per the report from Izquierdo, Cavani will join Miami on a free transfer after his contract with PSG expires in June. Since joining in 2013, El Matador has been irreplaceable for the French giants, scoring over 160 goals and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. This season, Cavani is off to a perfect start -scoring in the first two games of the Ligue 1 season.

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The striker is one of the first superstars linked to Miami, but the general vibe given off by owners Jorge Mas and Beckham is that the club will look to spend big – similar to Atlanta United, LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Miami has signed three players so far ahead of their 2020 MLS debut – Christian Makoun, Julian Carranza, and Matias Pellegrini all currently makeup the squad.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

Vela scores 24th, LAFC clinches playoff berth

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SANDY, Utah (AP) – Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.