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Zlatan Ibrahimovic released by Man United

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It’s confirmed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a free agent.

The Premier League Friday morning announced its list of released players from across the league and Ibrahimovic was the sole member on the list from Manchester United.

[More: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The news ends weeks of speculation that Manchester United would cut their losses after losing Ibrahimovic to a torn ACL, which will likely keep him out of action until January 2018 at the earliest, when he’ll be 36-years old.

In his one season at Old Trafford, the wily veteran striker still managed to score 17 Premier League goals and 28 goals in all competitions. It will be difficult for Manchester United to replace that production immediately, although potentially signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid could help bridge the goal gap.

It’s unclear where Ibrahimovic moves next. He’s been oft-rumored for a move to Major League Soccer or to China, but he could sit on the sidelines and await his next move while he rehabs his current injury.

Other notable players released include Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo, Chelsea’s John Terry, Burnley’s Joey Barton, who is suspended by the FA for gambling on soccer games, Stoke’s Shay Given, West Bromwich Albion’s Darren Fletcher and West Ham’s Alvaro Arbeloa. Manchester City’s quartet of Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and Willy Caballero that are leaving had already been announced.

Also of note is the release of U.S. Under-19 centerback Danny Barbir, who joined West Bromwich Albion in 2015. The Romanian-American dual national played mostly with the West Bromwich U-18s and reserves but never made a first team gameday squad.

Here’s a look at all the players set to be released from their contracts this summer:


 

PREMIER LEAGUE RELEASED LIST

AFC Bournemouth

Buckley Callum Ralph
McCarthy Jake
Neale Matthew Alexander

Arsenal

Da Graca Kristopher Santos
O’Connor Stefan Ramone Sewell
Sanogo Yaya

Burnley

Barton Joseph
Green George William
Hill Christian Stephen
Kightly Michael John
Olomowewe Taofiq Aderibigbe Akanni
Pingling Richard Junior George

Chelsea

Davey Alex James
Terry John George

Crystal Palace

Andrews Corie Anthony
Appiah Kwesi
Benteke Jonathan
Campbell Fraizer Lee
Croll Luke Alan
Flamini Mathieu
Fryers Ezekiel David
King-Elliott Ryan
Ledley Joseph Christopher
Williams Randell
Wynter Ben Douglas

Everton

Bainbridge Jack
Brewster Delial Edmund
Donohue Michael John
Duffus Tyrone Errol
Griffiths Russell John
Hunt Connor Charles
Kone Arouna
McAleny Conor Michael
Yarney Josef Charles
Yates James John

Hull City

Bruce Alex Stephen
Lofts Luke
Maloney Shaun Richard
Maslen-Jones Bradley
Ter Horst Johan

Leicester City

Cain Michael Dean
Domej David
Fox Brandon Levi
Kipre Cedric
Miles Matthew Richard
Mitchell Kairo Ellis
Wasilewski Marcin

Liverpool

Brewitt Tom
Brimmer Jake
Dunn Jack
Gomes Aju Madger Antonio
Lewis Kane
Manninger Alexander
Phillips Adam Lee

Manchester City

Bullock Callum
Caballero Lazcano Wilfredo Daniel
Clichy Gael
Navas Jesus
O’Brien Billy Thomas
Plummer Ellis Kane
Sagna Bacary
Zabaleta Girod Pablo Javier

Manchester United

Ibrahimovic Zlatan

Middlesbrough

Fewster Bradley William
Konstantopoulos Dimitrios
Maloney Lewis Terence James
Mondal Junior
Wheatley Josef James

Southampton

Caceres Silva Jose Martin
Isgrove Lloyd Jeffrey
Martina Rhu-Endly Aurelio Jean-Carlo
Willard Harley Bryn

Stoke City

Bachmann Daniel
Edwards Liam
Given Shay John James
Isted Harvey James Duke
Taylor Joel
Waring George Philip

Sunderland

Anichebe Victor Chinedu
Brady George
Buckley William Edward
Casey Dan Patrick
Kirchhoff Jan Tilman
Larsson Sebastian Bengt Ulf
Lawson Carl
Lescott Joleon Patrick
O’Shea John Francis
Pain Oliver David
Pienaar Steven

Swansea City

Dyson Thomas Jonathan
Emnes Marvin
Holland Thomas
Jones Owain Rhys
Samuel Alexander Kinloch
Shephard Liam
Tremmel Gerhard
Vickers Josh

Tottenham Hotspur

Lesniak Filip

Watford

Adeyemo Ola
Bannister Charlie Brendan Alec
Gilmartin Rene
Moreno Fuertes Juan Francisco
Obi Ogochukwu Alexander
Ovenden Rhyle
Ranegie Mathias

West Bromwich Albion

Barbir Daniel
Elbouzedi Zachary
Fletcher Darren Barr
Jones Callam
Pocognoli Sebastien
Rose Jack Joseph
Wright Andre

West Ham United

Arbeloa Coca Alvaro
Ford Samuel George
Howes Samuel Scott
Knoyle Kyle
Westley Samuel Edward

Why Aston Villa deserve Premier League promotion

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With the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 27, the richest game in soccer will see one of Aston Villa or Derby County promoted to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest Championship news ]

Which club deserves a spot in the English top-flight more? You can use metrics such as fanbase, stadiums, players, historical success and quality of coaches to try and sort this out, but the fact of the matter is, the playoffs are always a complete, and utterly brilliant, lottery.

The path Villa and Derby took to get to the final this season proves that.

Here’s a look at why Villa deserve to return to the PL after a three-year absence, while tomorrow we will focus on Derby…


Everything about Villa is a Premier League club.

Their incredible home at Villa Park is among the most historic and boisterous in England when it gets going and the Holte End is the jewel in its crown.

European champions in 1982, Villa are the biggest club from England’s second-city, Birmingham, and their fanbase is loyal, if not overly pessimistic as most Brummies are. The fact that there are no PL teams from Birmingham is astonishing. It is like having no top level sports teams in LA.

For three years they’ve now fought to get back into the top-flight after several seasons of struggle as former American owner Randy Lerner cut costs wherever he could. Under manager Dean Smith, a lifelong Villa fan, they now play wonderfully attractive soccer and have youngsters like Jack Grealish, Andre Green and Tammy Abraham leading the way.

Villa would be fun to watch if they were promoted to the Premier League. That much is sure. They’ll concede a lot of goals, but they would score a ton too.

There is also the potential for Villa to emulate Wolverhampton Wanderers. Seriously.

Their ownership group has strengthened in recent months with Chinese businessman Tony Xi selling 55 percent of his stake in the club to Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and American billionaire Wes Edens.

If Villa come up the financial fair play shackles which restricted them in the Championship in recent years will come off. The potential for them to spend big is there, but they have a team full of players on loan from PL clubs who have formed a bond and could likely be kept together and bought permanently this summer.

Quite simply, Villa are a top 10 team in the Premier League. They have suffered due to Lerner’s decision to pull out his investment but they have now rebuilt themselves with a strong core of young talent and have a manager in place who is progressive and ambitious both with his style of play and where Villa can get to in the PL.

Under Steve Bruce, Villa lost to Fulham in the playoff final last season at Wembley. But with local lad Grealish leading their charge there is a sense that failure last year was a blessing in disguise. This Villa side are young and hungry and they are exciting to watch.

That is why Villa deserve to be promoted to the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

Sevilla: Caparros won’t stay as coach for next season

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MADRID (AP) Sevilla says Joaquin Caparros will not be the team’s coach next season.

The Spanish club says Caparros will stay linked to the team but in a different position that will be announced in the future.

The former sports director has coached Sevilla since replacing the fired Pablo Machin in March, leading the club to a sixth-place finish in the Spanish league and a spot in the Europa League.

Caparros was also in charge of Sevilla for the final stretch of last season after Italian coach Vincenzo Montella was fired.

The 63-year-old Caparros last month announced he was fighting chronic leukemia but could keep working normally at the club.

He coached Sevilla in 241 matches in total, more than any other coach.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Transfer rumor roundup: Mata to Newcastle; Wilson to Saints

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Juan Mata is out of contract at Manchester United this summer, and it appears he could be staying in the Premier League.

The Spanish attacking midfielder has spent the last nine season in the Premier League at Chelsea and Man United, scoring 78 goals in 353 appearances in all competitions.

Mata, 31, has been linked with a free transfer for Newcastle United with the Sun saying that Rafael Benitez is keen to bring in the Spanish midfielder. He will have to use his powers of persuasion with owner Mike Ashley to try and get in the players they need this summer.

Benitez is still not assured of being at St James’ Park himself next season, as talks with Ashley over a new contract are ongoing, but it is clear that the Spanish coach needs to be backed in the transfer market if the Magpies are going to improve on their 13th and 10th place finishes in the last two seasons.

Mata played for Benitez at Chelsea and it is believed he has offers to return to La Liga.

With Matt Ritchie, Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez in attack, Newcastle could probably strengthen in other areas of their squad first. However, with Salomon Rondon only on loan from West Brom last season and no deal to sign him permanently currently in place, Benitez will know he needs extra attacking options and must do it on the cheap to appease Ashley.

Given that fact, Mata is a quality player who would demand high wages but no transfer fee is a clincher.


Harry Wilson is a man in demand after his superb loan spell at Derby County this season.

Wilson, 22, is wanted by Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton according to Sky Sports, while the likes of Wolves, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, as well as several Bundesliga clubs, have all been previously interesting in the Liverpool youngster. Jurgen Klopp has loaned Wilson out to Crewe, Hull and now Derby, and it is unlikely he will break through at Liverpool soon considering the attacking talent they possess.

A fee of $32 million has been suggested for Wilson, as the Welsh international has excelled under Frank Lampard at Derby and has been key in their run to the Championship playoff final against Aston Villa next Monday. His set piece delivery is sensational and Wilson has scored 18 goals and added four assists in all competitions for the Rams this season.

If Derby are promoted, maybe Wilson will remain at Pride Park, but the likes of Southampton, Wolves and Newcastle would seem like a very good spot for him to kick on and prove himself in the Premier League. Saints and Newcastle would offer him guaranteed playing time almost immediately and that has been key in his development this season at Derby.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been keen to stress Saints will only sign young players or those who are hungry and searching for a first big contract of their career, and Wilson would slot into their attack nicely alongside Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse in support of Danny Ings.

Sarri to discuss Chelsea future

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Maurizio Sarri isn’t sure if he will be in charge at Chelsea next season.

The Italian coach has confirmed that he will sit down and meet with Chelsea’s hierarchy after the UEFA Europa League final with Arsenal next Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, Sarri was asked about news reports linking him with a return to Italy to manager Juventus.

“It is very exciting to be here, but now it is time to think of the final,” Sarri said. “I have two years of my contract here. I have no contract with other clubs. I have to speak with my club after the final. I want to know if they are happy with me.”

Sarri added that he will discuss the situation in detail, but is extremely happy to remain at Stamford Bridge.

“I’m very happy to stay in the Premier League, with Chelsea, one of the most important clubs in the Premier League. I’m very, very happy but we have to discuss the situation. It’s normal. You have to discuss things with the club. It’s like this,” Sarri said.

Chelsea have hardly set the world alight this season, but finished third in the Premier League as they limped over the line at the end of the season. A top four finish was key for Sarri in his first season, so he achieved that, but the style of play was lambasted by many fans and neutrals, as the predictable, slow build-up play turned out to be easy to defend against. The reports around his future state that Chelsea are quite happy to let him leave this summer if another club wants to pay his $7 million release clause.

Sarri has reached the League Cup final and Europa League final in his debut season in England too, but his downbeat demeanor in press conferences has translated to a negative vibe with supporters.

Many want Frank Lampard — who has excelled in his first season as a manager at second-tier Derby — to replace Sarri this summer and given the impending transfer ban for Chelsea and Eden Hazard leaving, will he be able to improve the squad of players he currently has?

A big few weeks coming up for Sarri and Chelsea and their immediate futures.