Marouane Fellaini knows he’s about to get paid.
The 30-year-old midfielder tried to re-up with Manchester United last season, but couldn’t get a new deal heading into the final year of his contract.
Now, having further established himself as a go-to guy off the bench for Jose Mourinho, he knows his value has risen at Old Trafford and abroad.
[ MORE: Roma-Liverpool recap | Reds react ]
And he’s not about to take a pay cut, admitting he has no problem playing in China if it’s his best option. From Sky Sports:
“The entire staff is doing everything [so] I can stay,” he told Sport Voetbal Magazine. “Last year I went to the coach and I said that I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I will not ask it 10 times. Afterwards I became important for the team… and a good player costs at least 50m euros. The club knows that they went wrong there.”
Fellaini said several clubs have interest in his services, but we wonder how much of factor regular playing time is for the Belgian.
Knee injuries have robbed him of significant playing time this season, but Fellaini’s hit the pitch each time he’s made the 18 for a Premier League match. He has four goals in 15 appearances, four of which were starts.
Fellaini also took a shot at Jamie Carragher in the interview, asking why the ex-Liverpool man can dare criticize his playing style given his off-field actions earlier this year.
Julio Baptista’s time at Arsenal only lasted 12 months, but it was a memorable stint.
The Brazilian, who played the 2006-07 season for the Gunners, announced his retirement on Thursday at the age of 37. The former Brazil international only managed 10 goals with Arsenal, but they came in bunches.
Baptista memorably scored four goals against Liverpool in the League Cup quarterfinal, as Arsenal finished with a 6-3 win. Baptista even missed a penalty kick that game.
Baptista cemented his legacy later in the season with a brace in the FA Cup against rival Tottenham.
Baptista, clearly an immensely talented player, suffered from being a good, but not great player. He seemed to have no perfect position other than the No. 10, and most teams he played for had better players in that position. It forces him to play along the wings, deeper in midfield or as a striker during the prime of his career.
In the end, injuries beset his career, especially a short spell at Orlando City in MLS.
Italy opened the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a bang, knocking off fellow Group B favorite Mexico, 2-1, in Gdynia, Poland.
It only took Italy three minutes to get on the board, as Davide Frattesi found a pocket of space in front of the El Tri backline and dribbled in on goal. The Sassuolo midfielder then decided to fire on goal from distance, hitting a rocket into the corner to give Italy a 1-0 lead.
Later in the first half Gianluca Scamacca also took a rip from outside the box, but his strike sailed just wide.
A defensive error on a corner kick gave Diego Lainez and Mexico life. In the 37th minute, AC Milan product Alessandro Plizzari committed a howler, coming out to punch away the curled corner kick. Plizzari missed the ball and it went right to the head of Roberto De La Rosa, who calmly made it 1-1.
El Tri however suffered a blow late in the match as Italy took back the lead. In the 67th minute, Luca Ranieri collected the ball on the edge of the six yard box and from a tight angle, he scored past Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.
For Mexico, it’s a rough way to start the World Cup, having to go against a perennial power in Italy and playing on European soil. Not all is lost for Mexico, but it has to rebound with a win in its next game against Japan.
Elsewhere, Colombia defeated host Poland, 2-0, Japan tied Ecuador 1-1, and Senegal beat Tahiti, 3-0.
GENEVA (AP) Middle East neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are jointly bidding to host the Under-20 World Cup in 2021.
FIFA says the Gulf plan is among five to express interest in bidding, including Brazil.
Indonesia, Peru and a Myanmar-Thailand joint bid are the others.
FIFA announced the contenders Thursday, one day after dropping a proposal for Qatar to share hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup with regional neighbors.
The 2021 U20 contenders must submit a formal bid by Aug. 30. FIFA’s ruling Council will pick the winner, likely in October.
The 2019 edition kicks off Thursday in Poland.
MOSCOW (AP) Vladimir Putin has given FIFA president Gianni Infantino a medal.
The Russian president awarded Infantino the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin on Thursday.
Infantino has often said last year’s World Cup in Russia, where the host nation surprisingly reached the quarterfinals, was the best of the 21 editions of the tournament.
Putin thanked the FIFA leader for “your glowing assessment of our efforts.”
Infantino says of Russia’s “bonds of friendship” with soccer “is not the end, it is only the beginning of our fruitful cooperation and interaction.”
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