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Christian Pulisic to Liverpool links continue

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For well over 12 months Christian Pulisic has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

[ MORE: Pulisic speaks to JPW ]

The U.S. national team star, still just 18 years old, signed a new long-term deal at German giants Borussia Dortmund over the summer but the Pennsylvania native has once again been linked with a transfer to Liverpool to join his former manager Jurgen Klopp.

A report in the Daily Mirror in the UK suggests that if Barcelona’s Neymar moves to PSG, Barca will then push through a move for Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho. If that happens then per the report Pulisic would be Klopp’s top replacement.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that Klopp and Pulisic keep in regular contact after the latter moved from Hershey, PA as a 15-year-old to sign for Dortmund who were then managed by Klopp.

Last summer speculation was rife that Liverpool were pushing hard to sign Pulisic, but Klopp was coy when we asked him just before the transfer window slammed shut. And before you accuse Klopp of tapping up another player (fans of RB Leipzig and Southampton are likely nodding their heads), it is believed the pair have a very close relationship with the German coach influential in helping Pulisic and his father settle into life overseas in 2015 when he moved to Germany.

Since then a lot has changed for Pulisic.

He’s become the main attacking threat from midfield for the U.S. national team, plus a regular for Dortmund as they reached the UEFA Champions League last eight, won the German Cup and finished third in the Bundesliga.

The hype is very real around Pulisic and although the talented teenager continues to impress each and every time he steps on the pitch, fans of the USMNT are trying not to get ahead of themselves.

In truth, he’s the most exciting attacking talent the U.S. has had since Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey burst onto the scenes and he has the potential — seven goals in 16 appearances for the USMNT is not half bad — to surpass both of their stunning international careers.

When it comes to Pulisic’s club career, many would suggest that staying in the Bundesliga for another two to three years would be the best for his development and then he’d still only be 21 or 22 if he decided it was time to move on in 2020. The world is at his feet and if he continues his rapid ascension then plenty of big money offers will come in if he ever wants to leave Dortmund, which again is another big question mark given their status in Europe and beyond.

The main question, at least for me, around this reported Liverpool interest is simple: how much would Pulisic cost? A rough estimate of $35-40 million may even be on the low side, considering Dortmund would know that Liverpool has a huge transfer fee of over $115 million, or more, coming in for Coutinho.

Everything suggests Pulisic will remain at Dortmund for the foreseeable future given their annual ability to challenge for the Bundesliga title and qualify for the UCL each season.

Klopp is keeping a close eye on his former protege.

Although Pulisic’s diminutive stature may be an issue for some around this move, anybody who has watched his breathtaking ability on the ball, pace and sublime awareness to navigate his way around the pitch know that moving to the Premier League would be something he’d take time to adjust to but would surely master.

It still seems a little early for Pulisic to be heading to the PL, but there’s no doubt the top clubs in England will soon be chasing him if he improves on his breakout season at Dortmund in 2016-17.

As long as Klopp is in charge at Liverpool, it’s likely they’ll be at the front of the queue.

Exactly who is Newcastle’s new $50M striker?

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Newcastle United’s club record signing of Joelinton is raising plenty of eyebrows, as fans try to grasp what they have in the $50 million Brazilian.

Suffice it to say that there isn’t an easy comparison.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old scored seven goals with five assists in Bundesliga play for Hoffenheim last season, adding four and two from Champions League and German Cup play.

[ MORE: Man Utd chase Pepe, Fernandes ]

He’s a unit, to be sure, at 6-foot-1 with tremendous leaping ability and a powerful stride. Joelinton certainly has the ability to dominate in the air and hold the ball up like Newcastle’s loan star Salomon Rondon in 2018-19, but he brings better passing than most center forwards.

There’s a temptation to compare him to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, another Premier League import from Brazil via Hoffenheim, as Joe Prince-Wright wrote in his morning post about the impending deal.

Firmino was on another level in 2014-15, coming off a remarkably complete seasons for a center forward. He also shoots more often than Joelinton.

What Newcastle supporters will like from Joelinton, what makes him unique for his size, is that he’s a tremendous dribbler. He has trickery to go with his pace, not strictly a locomotive.

His season didn’t have the goals, the Toon will hope, because he was supplying wingers Andrej Kramaric (17 goals) and Ishak Belfodil (16). That could be music to the ears of Miguel Almiron and… whoever else Steve Bruce has to deploy (Yoshinori Muto? Jacob Murphy?).

Joelinton also played less than minutes than the following three comparables: West Ham import Sebastien Haller, Watford target Ismalia Sarr, and Wolves star Raul Jimenez.

Will he be worth the spend? The six-year deal promises profit potential — something Mike Ashley and chief scout Graham Carr are clearly targeting — if he explodes and earns the admiration of bigger sides. As for now, he should be able to provide what Rondon did in 2018-19.

Filipe Luis signs for Flamengo after leaving Atletico

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Brazilian veteran left-back Filipe Luis has signed for boyhood club Flamengo after leaving Atletico Madrid on a free transfer.

The Rio de Janeiro club and the player confirmed the move Tuesday on social media.

Flamengo said the 33-year-old Luis has signed a deal until 2021.

Luis has played in Europe for 14 years but left Atletico on Sunday after his contract expired.

The left-back was a starter for Brazil during its recent run to the Copa America title.

With Atletico, Luis won the Copa del Rey in 2013, the Spanish league in 2014, and the Europa League in 2012 and 2018. He also had a brief spell with Chelsea in between, winning the Premier League in 2015.

Flamengo is third in the Brazilian championship after 11 matches, five points behind leader and defending champion Palmeiras.

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

MLS expansion side Austin FC name Wolff as first-ever head coach

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Former USMNT forward  Josh Wolff has become the first-ever head coach of Austin FC, as the MLS expansion franchise crack on with their expected entry into North America’s top-flight in 2021.

Wolff, 42, was the assistant coach for D.C. United before moving to the Columbus Crew were he worked as Gregg Berhalter’s assistant for the past five years. Wolff was then hired as Berhalter’s assistant when he took charge of the USMNT.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Austin FC say that Wolff will start his new job after the international window in November as he will continue with his current job with U.S. Soccer until then.

“I know that Austin has a true love of soccer, and it is the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the first ever major league team of any kind in the Capital of Texas,” Wolff said. “Our stated ambition is to establish ourselves quickly within MLS as a vibrant, attacking side and we want to reflect the diverse, competitive, and passionate makeup of our club’s home, both on and off the field.”

This move makes total sense as former Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, knows Wolff from their time together in Ohio. Precourt excercized his option to move his MLS franchise from Columbus to Austin which was confirmed in January 2019.

The Crew have since been kept in Columbus and Precourt is now the chairman and CEO of Two Oak Ventures, the entity which owns the rights to operate Austin FC and its stadium, while also holding the title of chairman and CEO of Austin FC. Austin FC’s new stadium at McKalla Place (the stadium and the complex around it looks pretty incredible) is privately funded and will hold 20,500 fans when it is completed.

Hiring a former MLS and USMNT star to lead the team makes a lot of sense and Wolff’s name has been mentioned plenty when MLS jobs have become available in recent years. He was on both the 2002 and 2006 USMNT World Cup squads and his experience across MLS and in Europe have given him a unique coaching style.

There is a lot of respect for Wolff among the American soccer community and his playing philosophy is very similar to Berhalter’s. Wolff becoming a head coach is good news for young domestic players.

Live, UCL: PSV v. Basel headlines second qualifying round

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The UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds continue to roll on, and there are some mouthwatering clashes across Europe on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

That’s right, the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons pretty much rolled into one.

The pick of the second qualifying round first leg ties on Tuesday sees Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven host FC Basel in the Netherlands, with Mexican national team stars Hirving Lozano and Erick Guttierez hopeful of playing in the UCL group stage this season.

Welsh champions The New Saints host Danish champs FC Copenhagen, with TNS the heavy underdogs but their illustrious opponents will not relish their trip to Wales amid sweltering conditions in the UK.

Dinamo Zagreb will fancy their chances of advancing past Georgian minnows Saburtalo, while Olympiacos head to Czech giants Viktoria Plzen in another tasty encounter.

The third qualifying round sees the likes of Ajax, FC Porto and Dynamo Kiev enter the competition, so things will continue to get tougher for any minnows who sneak through this round.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, with the second legs played next week. Click on the link to follow all of the action live.

UCL second qualifying round, first leg – Tuesday, July 23

Plzen v. Olympiacos – 1 p.m. ET
Saburtalo v. Dinamo Zagreb – 1:30 p.m. ET
The New Saints v. Copenhagen – 2 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven v. FC Basel – 2 p.m. ET
FK Sutjeska v. APOEL Nicosia – 2:15 p.m. ET