Arsene Wenger has stressed that Pep Guardiola has not changed the game of soccer over the last decade or so, maintaining that the players are the ones who make a team truly great.
Asked if Guardiola has “raised the bar” of managing in his time at the top, Wenger said, “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe. You have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a short number of clubs.”
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“We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”
In fact, Wenger showed a twinge of jealousy at all the attention Guardiola is getting with the team blowing out the rest of the Premier League this season, referencing trophies in the recent past Arsenal has hoisted. “We are maybe underdogs but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again?”
“At the end of the day, you have to be cool,” Wenger said, “because Manchester City is dominating the league in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final [last season when Arsenal beat Man City].”
USMNT star and Borussia Dortmund teenage winger Christian Pulisic won a penalty kick off James Milner, then insisted on taking the spot kick in front of his home crowd.
[ MORE: Mina to Everton? ]
Pulisic, 19, took the ball off Mario Gotze and finished his chance clinically to equalize against Liverpool, his second won penalty of the American tour.
Pulisic began the game on the bench after starting in Chicago against Manchester City, and Liverpool had gone ahead early when Virgil Van Dijk took advantage of poorly set up BVB zonal marking.
But Pulisic cut past Milner and was tripped by the veteran before clattering into Ragnar Klavan and earning the PK.
Goal.com says Yerry Mina could be leaving the Camp Nou after just one season for meaningful playing time at Goodison Park.
Mina’s agent says the center back would still like to feature at Barca following his strong World Cup with Colombia, but that Everton and Zenit Saint-Petersburg are interested in the $20 million man.
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He was WhoScored’s second-best player in the entire World Cup tournament, going 270 minutes for Los Cafeteros. Mina averaged seven clearances a match, with 1.3 tackles and an interception per contest. Here’s Mina’s agent, from The Liverpool Echo:
“Everton is a club that insists on the player, who has called us directly. There are other teams like Zenit, but we hope Barcelona will take the initiative. He wants to play and do it in Barcelona. For Yerry Mina it would be a failure not to play. He just wants to play.”
The 23-year-old played just six times for Barcelona last season, and would join Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as younger center backs in Everton’s corps (Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are well into the careers).
Sometimes a transfer rumor report talks itself out of probability by the time it reaches completion.
Sky Sports is reporting that Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial has interest from the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund.
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But United doesn’t have interest in selling Martial and may pick up an option in his contract to extend him through the 2019-2020 season.
And the report says Chelsea has not made an offer — hard to believe United would sell inside the Premier League anyway — while Bayern thinks the price tag is too high. And if Bayern feels that way, than BVB is gonna pass, too.
Still, something to put on your radar.
Swansea City center back Federico Fernandez saw his side relegated last season and may not favor a campaign in the Championship.
The Chronicle says he could move to Newcastle on loan despite a transfer tag of less than $8 million.
Fernandez, however, did not name names outside of Krasnodar:
“The club (Krasnodar) are very interested in me and we will have to see what happens with the window. Of course I have a contract with Swansea and that’s why I’m here and working hard. But if they want me to come then of course I want to play at the highest level.”
The Magpies could land a defender from a World Cup participant, though, as Porto’s Diego Reyes may prefer a move to Newcastle (Turkish link) over interest from Fenerbahce and West Ham United.
The 55-times capped Mexican center back has played on the right as well, though he missed the tournament with a hamstring injury.
A former Columbus Crew midfielder could be on his way back to the Eastern Conference side.
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Several reports have suggested that Orlando City’s Justin Meram could be on his way back to Columbus, as the Lions look to trade the midfielder back to the club that drafted the 29-year-old.
The veteran attacker joined the Lions back in January in a trade after spending seven seasons with the Crew.
Reliable Twitter account MLS Transfers first reported the story on Sunday, also naming the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati as potential landing spots for Meram.
Meram was traded to Orlando back in January after requesting a move away from Columbus due to ongoing talks of the club being relocated out of Ohio.
The Iraq international has struggled in his first season with Orlando, scoring just one goal in 17 appearances for the club — who currently sit in ninth place and six points outside of the Eastern Conference playoffs.