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Is Miazga’s imminent move to Chelsea good for his, USMNT’s future?


American defender Matt Miazga, 20, is on the verge of signing for reigning Premier League champions Chelsea.

On Wednesday news broke that the New York Red Bulls academy product had left U.S. national team camp in California and was tying up a deal to sign with the west London club as the young U.S. defender, who burst onto the scene during the 2015 Major League Soccer season, is about to become the next American plying his trade in the PL.

[ MORE: Howard in talks with Colorado

However, as soon as news of this impending deal filtered through, so did waves of negativity regarding the possibility of Miazga becoming the next promising U.S. talent to spend years on the bench of a top club abroad rather than actually playing.

In this case that concern is legit and worth addressing.

Can you blame Miazga for moving on from New York and making the most of his Polish passport to join one of the biggest clubs in the world? Of course not.

Yet the biggest question is whether or not Miazga will ever see the field for the Blues. With Guus Hiddink currently in charge of Chelsea as interim boss until the end of the season, a new coach will arrive this summer and Miazga will have to impress whoever that is to remain in their plans. There’s also the small matter of usurping club legend John Terry, England’s vice-captain Gary Cahill and French international Kurt Zouma from the center back position. Terry hasn’t got long left, while Cahill is 30-years-old but Zouma, 22, is already a fans favorite and will be around for a long time. Will Miazga get the chance to play alongside Zouma?

[ MORE: Time for Van Gaal to go?

Miazga’s journey at Chelsea is about to begin but it will be a long and winding road — just like it has been for many other U.S. internationals including Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore who all returned to MLS after spells in the PL — until he becomes a regular.

Although a report from claims that Chelsea will keep him at Stamford Bridge for at least the opening six months of his contract, Miazga will more than likely spend a few years out on loan at the beginning of his Chelsea career.

That’s not me being cynical but more so just being realistic.

Chelsea currently has 29 players out on loan and many of them are some of the brightest young prospects the game has to offer. Many critics claim the Blues are stockpiling young talent, while others suggest signing on promising youngsters for small fees and then loaning them out to others for a fee helps with cash-flow and aids Chelsea’s constant battle against UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

Regardless, last summer I witnessed Vitesse Arnhem play with four Chelsea youngsters in their starting XI, all of whom are on loan to their partner club in the Dutch Eredivisie. Miazga could do a lot worse than learning his trade and going on loan to Vitesse. With games against PSV Eindhoven, Ajax and Feyenoord he will improve and overall the level of play is deemed (by most) to be higher than MLS. It would be a step up and a natural progression in his career as the likes of Altidore, Aron Johannsson and others have found.

The one area of concern here is that if Miazga arrives at Chelsea and purely spends time with their development squad.

At his age he needs to play and U.S. men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann obviously has big plans for the towering center back after handing him his international debut back in November during the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He is lined up, along with Cameron Carter-Vickers, to one day start for the U.S. at center back. However, would Miazga’s development be stunted by spending time training with Chelsea’s other young talents at their Cobham base and never getting near the first team?

In a recent chat with Klinsmann’s assistant, Andi Herzog, the Austrian told me having young U.S. players in the system in Europe is important as their development is accelerated at a quicker rate if they’re ready for the step up.

At this time it is hard to tell if Miazga will be pushed into Chelsea’s first team anytime soon. But this is a long-term move for the young American defender and even though plenty will be eager to follow his journey, this move should be treated with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.