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Arsenal keen on Sanchez, Draxler swap?

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It appears Arsenal may have a solution to the Alexis Sanchez dilemma.

With the Chilean forward yet to sign a new deal at the Emirates Stadium and his contract running out at the end of this season, that means from January he can agree to join a club outside of England on a free transfer on July 1, 2018.

However, the Daily Star say the Gunners want to swap Sanchez for Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler in January.

That could suit everyone concerned but would PSG really do this deal knowing that Sanchez would be available for nothing a few months later?

Draxler, 24, is probably worth over $75 million in today’s market and he is a key part of the future of the German national team. However, with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe starting every game at PSG, his opportunities in his favored attacking midfield role seem limited. He has come off the bench in four of his eight appearances for PSG this season.

The German star has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past (‘who hasn’t Arsene Wenger nearly signed?’ I hear you cry. Fair point) and he certainly represents a stress-free solution compared to Sanchez.

Despite his brilliance — his backheel assist against Brighton on Sunday was sublime — Sanchez’s time at Arsenal appears to be up and this deal would save Arsenal some face if they received a German international in return.

But again, why would PSG do this deal? Well, let’s say they make the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, which is highly likely. Sanchez (who has only played in the Europa League this season) would then be available to help Neymar, Cavani, Mbappe and Co. push for the European title in the second half of this season.

According to UEFA rules, Sanchez could be registered to play for PSG in the knockout rounds under Article 44:

44.01 For all matches from the start of the round of 16, a club may register a maximum
of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current
competition. Such registration must be completed by 1 February 2018 (24.00CET)
at the latest. This deadline cannot be extended.

44.02 One player from the above quota of three who has been fielded in a UEFA club
competition group stage match for another club in the current season may
exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
a. in the same competition for another club; or
b. for another club that is currently in the same competition.

Again, this deal could work for everyone.

PSG would get another high-earner off their wage bill with an impending UEFA investigation into Financial Fair Play rules. Draxler would be a star at Arsenal and is five years younger than Sanchez. Alexis Sanchez could challenge for Europe’s biggest trophies.

And Arsenal would wipe a little more egg off their face after a deadline day $90 million deal for Sanchez to move to Manchester City (with Thomas Lemar arriving at Arsenal from Monaco) fell through.

Mohamed Salah starts for Egypt despite int’l retirement talks

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Mohamed Salah is coming off of his best season as a professional, but reports suggest that his time with the Egyptian national team could soon be coming to an end for reasons that extend beyond soccer.

Salah will however be included in Egypt’s Group A finale against Saudi Arabia on Monday, though, after the team sheet was revealed by the Pharaohs ahead of the match.

CNN reported over the weekend that Salah believes he is being used by Egypt as a political symbol to represent Chechnya, which has sparked talks of the talented Liverpool winger ending his international career.

Egypt has already been eliminated from reaching the Round of 16 after losing its first two matches at the World Cup.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.