Sunday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Kovacic to Madrid, Muller to Manchester United

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England gets easily obsessed with the possibility of high-level, big-money transfers that could bring star players to the Premier League, and we’re seeing that again with Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller.

Despite defiance from the Bavarian club that Muller will not leave, reports in England continue to insist Muller is on his way to Old Trafford. According to the Express, Manchester United has seen a pair of bids rejected, the second of which was for $94 million, but Muller is for the move as his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola has deteriorated and he knows his pay would significantly increase.

However, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge remains adamant that Muller won’t leave, saying the club would be “out of our minds to sell Muller.”

Manchester United is also rumored to be looking for defensive reinforcements, and the name mentioned recently is Valencia’s Argentinian center-back Nicolas Otamendi, who Spanish publication Super Deporte claims has missed training with a transfer imminent. It could be to United who has been linked to the 27-year-old throughout the summer, and Manchester City is also apparently interested. According to the report, Otamendi asked not only to be held out of training, but also to be kept from the club’s Champions League match against Monaco this week.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Last season’s champions Chelsea will have to deal with interest from Roma for their young defender Kurt Zouma, according to a number of English news publications. The 20-year-old defender came to the Blues from Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne last season, and the Blues would likely be heavily resistant to a sale considering the ages of their current central defensive partnership and Zouma’s impressive progression. According to the Daily Mail, the Italian club might be open to a loan, which is probably something Chelsea would be much more amenable to.

Young Croatian Mateo Kovacic is reportedly all but a Real Madrid player, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Inter attacking midfielder is just 21 years old but has caught the eye of Florentino Perez and has been linked with Los Blancos all summer, as well as Liverpool. The deal is reportedly worth as much as $39 million, and the report states movement this weekend from Madrid has put them in pole position.

Bournemouth’s failed May move for Jermain Defoe could be back on as the Sunderland striker has his eye on a move away from the Stadium of Light, according to the Metro. The Black Cats have suffered a pair of embarrassing defeats to start the season, and that has reportedly caused Defoe to rethink his standing at Sunderland, whom he led away from the relegation zone last season.

Live, UCL: Ajax in action as playoff round begins

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The first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round kick off on Tuesday, as Ajax, Club Brugge and Slavia Prague all head on road trips as they hope to clear the final hurdle and reach the group stage.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

It is rather outrageous that Ajax, the reigning Dutch champions who reached the semifinal of the UCL last season, have to qualify for this tournament, but here they are. Dusan Tadic (fresh from signing a new seven-year contract) is once again leading the charge for this young Dutch side who have lost Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt over the summer, and edged past PAOK 5-4 on aggregate in the last round. Ajax head to APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus in the first leg and hope to have a healthy advantage to take back with them to Amsterdam for the second leg next week.

Club Brugge head to LASK Linz from Austria as USMNT goalkeeper Evan Horvath now faces real competition for his starting spot as Belgian national team and former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet arrived over the summer. LASK shocked FC Basel in the third qualifying round

As for the other game on Tuesday, CFR Cluj host Slavia Prague in Romania in a clash between two teams who have been making waves in Europe over the past few years. Cluj knocked Celtic out in the last round and it will be quite the occasion in Transylvania, as Slavia’s star man is Romanian international Nicolae Stanciu.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. Three more UCL playoff games take place on Wednesday.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday
APOEL Nicosia v. Ajax
CFR Cluj v. Slavia Prague
LASK v. Club Brugge

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Matchweek 2 is in the books and there is plenty of movement in our latest Premier League player Power Rankings.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Players from Man City, Liverpool, Leicester and Man United dominate our list, while there are a few surprise names from some of the teams who have surprised us all in the opening weeks of the new season.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – New entry
2. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) – New entry
3. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Up 3
4. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – New entry
5. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Down 2
6. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Down 4
7. Harry Maguire (Man United) – Down 6
8. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) Down 3
9. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – Down 1
10. James Maddison (Leicester City) – New entry
11. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 7
12. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
13. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 2
14. Ashley Barnes (Burnley) – Down 7
15. Chris Basham (Sheffield United) – New entry
16. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City) – New entry
17. Jordan Pickford (Everton) – Up 2
18. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – Up 2
19. Alexander Lacazette (Arsenal) – New entry
20. Leandro Trossard (Brighton) – New entry

St. Louis awarded MLS expansion franchise

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Major League Soccer is heading to soccer’s spiritual home in the United States of America.

St. Louis, Missouri was awarded an MLS expansion franchise on Tuesday, as it became the 28th team in the rapidly expanding league.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

The franchise is expected to enter the league in 2021, along with Austin FC as Inter Miami and Nashville SC are schedule to arrive for the 2020 season.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber was on hand in downtown STL to make the announcement.

Garber was alongside Mayor Lyda Krewson, plus the ownership group led by Andy Taylor and Carolyn Kindle Betz of Enterprise Holdings and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology and Saint Louis FC, who celebrated their success of bringing top-tier soccer to St. Louis. Kindle Betz will be joined by other female members of the Taylor family, which will make STL the first female majority-owned team in MLS history.

“After two decades of discussion about St. Louis becoming part of Major League Soccer, we are here today to announce it,” Garber said. “Saint Louis, with its incredibly rich soccer history, not only deserves an MLS team but has earned one.”

With the owner of Saint Louis FC, the USL franchise in the Midwest city, also involved in the arrival of MLS it is believed the team name, badge and colors will now be selected.

“Our ownership group has come a long way since we first announced our bid last October at Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, and it’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say, St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS,” Kindle Betz said. “Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis’ renaissance currently underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game.”

St. Louis’ Downtown West district is now set to be transformed with the stadium kickstarting a larger development which will include mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces open year-round to the public.

The ownership group have previously released plans for a 22,500-capacity stadium in the West Downtown neighborhood. Not having a solid stadium plan curtailed the efforts of others to bring MLS to St. Louis in the past, with the city council voting against partial funding for a stadium near Union Station in 2017.

But just when it looked like St. Louis would miss out on the MLS expansion race, they’re in.

With St. Louis losing the NFL’s Rams to Los Angeles, this is a shrewd move from MLS and follows their model of placing teams in major U.S. cities which do not have major league franchises across all sports. It takes the league to 28 teams, with Sacramento, Phoenix and Charlotte said to be among the favorites for the next two franchises as the league aims to expand to 30 teams.

It also helps to link up Midwest cities, as FC Cincinnati, the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Sporting Kansas City and Nashville SC now have a new rival.

STL has brought in very good crowds for their USL side Saint Louis FC and also USMNT and USWNT friendlies, plus international friendlies between European clubs in recent summers.

Many of the USA’s top talents hail from the STL region (Taylor Twellman, Tim Ream, Brad Davis and Steve Ralston to name a few) and there is a rich soccer heritage in the city, with five of the 11 starters for the U.S. side in their historic 1950 World Cup win against England from St. Louis.

College soccer, amateur teams and former pro teams from St. Louis have all had a major impact on soccer in the USA.

There is now an MLS team to build on that legacy and create new iconic moments in St. Louis.

Report: Beckham stadium site has unsafe arsenic levels

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MIAMI (AP) An environmental analysis shows the proposed site for David Beckham’s Major League Soccer stadium in Miami is far more toxic than previously expected.

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The Miami Herald reports the analysis found arsenic contamination reaching more than twice the legal limit, and surface-level soil samples containing hazardous debris at the Melreese golf course site, where people have played golf for more than 50 years.

The consultant’s report says almost the entire site near Miami International Airport is contaminated by ash from a municipal incinerator shut down long ago.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Monday night that team officials said the findings could increase cleanup costs to $50 million at the site.

The sprawling $1 billion commercial and stadium complex would serve as home to Beckham’s MLS team, Inter Miami .