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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Defour to break Burnley record, Mustafi to Arsenal back on

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With Middlesbrough making big-name moves and even Championship clubs spending like crazy, Burnley is just looking to keep up.

The agent of Anderlecht midfielder Steven Defour says that the two clubs have agreed to bring the 28-year-old Belgian to the Premier League in a $9 million deal that would make Defour the Clarets’ record signing.

Defour has come close to joining the Premier League on multiple occasions in the past. Everton had a bid rejected by Standard Liege in 2011, Manchester United was reportedly interested around that time as well, and Fulham came close to a deal in 2014 but talks broke down with Porto and Defour moved to Anderlecht.

Burnley still has not yet confirmed the deal, but Anderlecht has, wishing him “good luck” on Twitter.

Arsenal has been linked to Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi for much of the summer, but things have been quiet at the Emirates and Gunners fans are starving for an addition to counter some early-season injuries. Now, according to Spanish media reports, things might be hitting high gear.

Plaza Deportiva reports that Valencia owner Peter Lim flew to London to complete the transfer. The report also states Mustafi has already agreed to a deal with Arsenal, and the fee is all that is required to green light a medical.

The deal will reportedly cost Arsenal $39 million, despite Mustafi’s release clause of $54 million. Fueling the fire, Mustafi was left out of Wednesday’s friendly with a Nigerian all-star team.

Stoke City defender Marc Wilson has suddenly fallen out of favor with manager Mark Hughes and looks ready to find himself a new club. The 28-year-old has been with the Potters since 2010, but a week ago went on an eye-raising Twitter tirade targeting Hughes’ training, tactics, and team selection.

During a Q&A with fans, Wilson tweeted things like, “it would actually help if we ever did any defensive training which we dont,” I think I deserve game time, only way to get fit but hey that’s down to the manager. Finished last season horrifically,” and “think we have gotten away from being a tight compact unit when we lose the ball.”

On Friday, when asked about the incident during the pre-match press conference leading up to Saturday’s Premier League opener at Middlesbrough, Hughes confirmed Wilson is likely to depart. “It’s fair to say that Marc feels his future lies elsewhere and it’s fair to say I probably agree with him,” said Hughes. “Sometimes players can be frustrated with a perceived lack of opportunity and that’s the case with Marc. He maybe expressed himself in the wrong way.”

Everton has seen a $11 million bid rejected for Lyon forward Rachid Ghezzal, according to a report by Goal.

The Toffees are leaving their business late, having just secured the purchase of Swansea defender Ashley Williams. Now, they’ve reportedly targeted the unsettled Algerian, who rejected a new contract with the Ligue 1 side, and Friday was sent to train with the reserves until his future is sorted, according to Lyon manager Bruno Genesio. West Ham have also reportedly submitted bids that were rejected, and Arsenal is apparently interested, but not willing to submit an offer until January.

Ghezzal is a Lyon academy product and scored eight goals and eight assists last year in 28 Ligue 1 appearances. The 24-year-old has just one year remaining on his current contract at Lyon.

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.


“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.