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Sporting CP suspends entire first-team squad after feud with team president

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Things are getting really, really heated in Lisbon.

According to reports across Portugal, Sporting CP will be forced to play its B team after the first team squad became embroiled in a feud with outspoken team president Bruno de Carvalho.

Following the club’s Europa League quarterfinal first-leg loss to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, Carvalho roasted the squad via Facebook, putting players like Fabio Coentrao, Gelson Martins, Fredy Montero, and Bas Dost on blast for things like missing chances and getting yellow cards.

It was an absolutely ruthless post, one that claimed the team “wasn’t focused” and that the 11 players “played like 9 many times.”Seeing bad errors by international and experienced players adds more to the suffering [of the defeat],” he claimed.

Needless to say, the squad didn’t take kindly to being called out publicly by members of the front office. The reports state the players first hoped to confront Carvalho personally at training the next day, but he never showed. Feeling like they had to save face, the players took to Instagram on Portuguese international goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s page – also posted to Coentrao’s account – to make a statement saying they are united as a squad and expressed “disgust” with Carvalho’s comments.

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Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal, em nome do plantel, somos a informar o seguinte… Suamos, lutamos e honramos sempre a camisola que vestimos. Não somos perfeitos e não acreditamos em jogadores perfeitos, porque queremos sempre evoluir! Não existem jogadores nem equipas perfeitas, mas quando as coisas não correm como queremos, sabemos assumir as nossas responsabilidades. Todos nós temos de o fazer! Quando vencemos, empatamos ou perdemos… sim… porque no Futebol estes são os resultados possíveis, a responsabilidade é sempre de todos! Somos uma equipa! Somos um grupo unido de um Grande Clube onde o respeito é uma das bases necessárias a essa união. Não podemos pensar apenas no “Eu”, mas sim “Nós” e sempre na equipa, porque só assim poderemos vencer. No nosso Clube, nas seleções nacionais que representamos, sempre damos e continuaremos a dar o nosso melhor, porque o querer é uma constante. Somos profissionais, somos humanos! A nossa integridade e o nosso compromisso são sagrados! Esforço, dedicação, devoção e glória sempre! Damos o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal, damos o máximo por nós próprios enquanto equipa, individualmente enquanto atletas. Lutamos pelo nosso Clube, pelos nossos adeptos e por nós, sempre! Não há outra forma séria de estar no Futebol Profissional que não seja esta… Por esta razão, em nome de todo o plantel do SCP, espelhamos neste texto o nosso desagrado, por vir a publico as declarações do nosso Presidente, após o jogo de ontem, no qual obtivemos um resultado que não queríamos… a ausência de apoio, neste momento…, daquele que deveria ser o nosso líder. Apontar o dedo para culpabilizar o desempenho dos atletas publicamente, quando a união de um grupo se rege pelo esforço conjunto, seja qual for a situação que estejamos a passar, todos os assuntos resolvem-se dentro do grupo. Saibamos ver que, por maiores que sejam as dificuldades, ainda há muito para disputar. Temos uma recta final em várias competições e vamos, haja o que houver, unidos e coesos, dar o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal. Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal.

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“On behalf of the SCP squad, through this joint statement we express our disgust with our president’s public statements after yesterday’s game for which we did not achieve the result we desired,” the statement reads. “The lack of support at this moment from the one who is supposed to be our leader, pointing the finger to publicly blame an athlete’s performance when a group is ruled by its combined effort.”

Well, it didn’t end there. Carvalho called the players “spoiled boys” has threatened to suspend every player on the first team for replying to his comments, in a since-deleted post on his Facebook account. And according to reports, Carvalho is planning on carrying out his threat, with Sporting planning to play its reserve squad against 14th placed Pacos Ferreira on Sunday.

This is not the first time Carvalho has publicly criticized his players. Just two weeks ago after former Porto striker Andre Silva said he didn’t get along with Carvalho, the president responded by painting Silva as ungrateful.

Sporting sits third in the Primira Liga table, five points back of second-placed Porto and six behind leaders Benfica. They are just a single point above fourth-placed Braga.

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.

From Goal.com:

“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.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).