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Wayne Rooney agrees MLS move “in principle”

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It appears that Wayne Rooney is edging closer to a move to Major League Soccer this summer.

Rooney, 32, is said to have “agreed a deal in principle” to join D.C. United this July but the English striker is said to be waiting around at Goodison to see if Sam Allardyce remains in charge of the Toffees.

Various reports claim the transfer deal is worth close to $17 million for Rooney and he will have a contract with MLS until the end of the 2020 season.

A source confirmed to Pro Soccer Talk that Rooney’s move to MLS is a “done deal” and it would certainly be a rapid change of heart which sees the Manchester United and England legend leave his second stint at Everton for life in MLS after less than one year back on Merseyside at his boyhood club.

With the manager who hired him, Ronald Koeman, fired within a few months, Rooney’s return to Everton hasn’t been a happy one (despite 10 goals in 31 PL appearances this season) as he’s shown his frustration at being subbed off in recent weeks, especially at Allardyce after the derby draw with Liverpool last month.

Would Rooney’s move to MLS be a success?

There’s no doubting his pedigree as the all-time leading goalscorer for Man United and England has won everything he can in the game, but joining MLS is a different prospect and it really is 50/50.

Look at Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard. Kaka and Andrea Pirlo arriving in MLS over the past few years. All four struggled to adapt to the different challenges MLS throws your way, but the likes of Robbie Keane, David Villa and Thierry Henry have certainly faired better as big-name Designated Players.

Yet brining Rooney to MLS does somewhat clash with the new model of recruitment for most clubs as. 111 newcomers arrived in MLS in 2018 with those new players having an average age of 25 as the likes of Barco arriving at Atlanta reinforced a shift in signing younger players to the league.

Focusing back on Rooney, he has dropped deeper under Allardyce (and spent plenty of time on the bench) at Everton and has been playing in midfield for the last few months, so he could perhaps adopt a role as a true no.10 in D.C. United’s lineup if he does make the move Stateside.

With a little more time on the ball and a slower pace to the game, overall, Rooney should thrive, in theory, in MLS. But we all know it’s about much more than talent to do well in North America’s top-flight. A player who has spent his entire 17-year career in the Premier League will need to adapt quickly to turf pitches, plenty of long travel days, high temperatures and also try to reinvent his game.

The latter is something Rooney has been able to do over the years as he’s gone from an energetic teen to a polished goalscorer and now a deeper playmaker. His penchant for scoring spectacular goals will also hold him in good stead if he arrives in MLS.

With D.C. United moving into their long-awaited soccer specific stadium at Audi Field this July, having Rooney on board when the MLS transfer window opens in July would surely be perfect timing for them to make a splash.

Many will argue as to whether or not MLS needs Rooney as it tries to shed its tag as a place where stars go to retire and have a few more years of earning big bucks, but just look at the wider impact Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had since he arrived at the LA Galaxy.

Rooney hasn’t quite got Zlatan’s charisma off the pitch (understatement alert) but there’s no doubt he still has plenty to give on it, especially for a team struggling at the foot of the Eastern Conference early on in the 2018 season under Ben Olsen.

This move seems like a win-win for everyone.

Newcastle win dampened by Saint-Maximin injury

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Steve Bruce has seen Newcastle up to 10th in the table after topping Southampton 2-1, but the news wasn’t all good at St. James Park after the victory.

The Magpies boss confirmed that Allan Saint-Maximin  could be out “for weeks” after pulling up deep into stoppage time, coming off in the 96th minute after all three Newcastle substitutes had been used.

Bruce partly blamed himself for the injury, claiming he nearly rested the Frenchman for the match. “I nearly left him out today,” Bruce said after the game, “and, now, I wish I had done because he could be out for weeks. I’m disappointed with myself. We don’t know how serious it is. I kick myself if he is out for a long time. The way he pulled up – let’s hope it’s not too serious.”

The manager claims Saint-Maximin was “fatigued” but risked him anyways. He could have brought the 22-year-old off at some point during the second half, but with the game level until Federico Fernandez’s 87th minute winner, he chose to risk it further looking for a winner. Bruce used his third and final substitute in the 85th minute to haul off Miguel Almiron still two minutes before the eventual winning goal was scored. And it wasn’t just Steve Bruce who thought he could miss significant time.

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Saint-Maximin struggled with a muscle injuries earlier in the season, missing games against Norwich City, Watford, and Liverpool while getting treatment. Since returning in full in early October, Saint-Maximin has played in every Premier League game for Newcastle, completing at least 80 minutes in eight of those nine games and finishing 90 minutes four times.

The injury is poorly timed with Newcastle set to begin a heavy set of fixtures. They take on Burnley next weekend before games against Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, and Leicester City all in an eleven-day span through the holiday season. Saint-Maximin is a critical player to have go down, with a 7.07 WhoScored rating, ranking third on the team in that metric. He has completed 4.5 dribbles a game this season, which ranks second in the Premier League behind Wilfried Zaha‘s 4.6 despite having played five fewer games and 550 fewer minutes.

Ciaran Clark also went down during the game, with the Newcastle defender hauled off at halftime after suffering a calf injury.

Wolves, Seagulls split spoils at the Amex

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Wolves failed in a bid to pull within three points of fourth place, drawing Brighton 2-2 at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Diogo Jota scored twice in a 4-goal first half, with Neal Maupay and Davy Propper bagging goals for Brighton. The Seagulls remain 12th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Wolves’ blink at Top Four chance: Wolves entered the day with a chance to close to within three points of fourth place Chelsea, and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men next face Spurs, Norwich City, Man City, and Liverpool. They needed three points here. Not for lack of effort, they couldn’t conjure the magic.

2. Jota calm in the finish: Jota scored his second and third Premier League goals of the season, joining his Europa League success to give him six. He added five assists in the UEL, and is averaging 2.5 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per contest.

 

3. Maupay paying off faith: The French center forward has blossoming into a steady Premier League contributor after his outlandish production in the Championship earned him a big money move to the Amex Stadium. His sixth goal in 16 matches now includes goals against Wolves, Spurs, Everton, and Arsenal.

Man of the Match: Jota.


Brighton had most of the ball for the first half hour, but could’ve solve the Wolves back line.

Jota put Wolves ahead via a clever 1-2 with Raul Jimenez to get behind the line, prodding home for 1-0.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The lead lasted all of six minutes, as Maupay and Propper struck two minutes apart.

Maupay’s was a fine finish of a long Dale Stephens assist, while Propper headed a Leandro Trossard cross past Rui Patricio in the 36th.

Propper then fell from grace with a miserable pass stolen by Jonny Otto, the wingback finding Jota for his second goal of the night.

Wolves thought VAR might give them a penalty for handball in the 62nd minute, to no avail.

It was Wolves’ turn to give away a huge chance, but Stephens curled the effort wide of the far post in the 72nd minute.

Forster stars as 10-man Celtic beat Rangers, claim 10th-straight trophy

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At some point, Rangers supporters will be forgiven for thinking Celtic doesn’t have all the luck in Scotland.

The Bhoys, second best for most of the day, scored a 60th minute goal and then overcame a red card three minutes later to claim their 10th successive piece of Scottish silverware with a 1-0 win the Scottish League Cup.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Celtic’s Chris Jullien prodded home a free kick before 18-year-old Jeremie Frimpong was sent off, and Rangers had already controlled the proceedings before seeing a 16-5 edge in shot attempts at the final whistle.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster, the former Saints and Newcastle man, was outstanding in the win, even stopping an Alfredo Morelos penalty as the Rangers star failed to deliver.

From the BBC:

“It was just one of them days, it went my way today. I’m buzzing. There’s been days when it’s not gone my way, today it has. I can’t say how much it means to me. I didn’t really think about the penalty to be honest. I picked the way it went. I’ll take it.

“That’s why I came back; to play in games like this, to win silverware, to play European football.”

Rodgers: “Historic day” as Leicester City extends win streak

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Of course it’s early, but it looks like Leicester City is the Premier League’s lone bright hope of challenging Liverpool for the title.

And yeah, that’s a big deal, even after the Foxes claimed the most inexplicable title in top flight history just four seasons ago.

[ RECAP: Villa 1-4 Leicester City ]

But the Foxes remain leery about embracing their title credentials, even after setting a club record by winning their eight-straight via a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.

“I thought they were amazing,” said Brendan Rodgers. “It is a historical day for the club and the performance warranted that. It really does mean something special, it puts the team in the history books of Leicester City.”

Okay, but… just a little bit about the title fight, Brendan? No?

Perhaps goal scoring defender Jonny Evans would take the bait.

“We are up there and it shows we are playing well. Our performance was good, against one of the best Villa teams I faced in years. It shows we are capable of coming away and getting results. It is nice people are talking about us, we’re enjoying it and there’s great spirit in the club.”

Leicester is eight points back of first, the only team within 10 points of Liverpool. Man City is 14 back and Chelsea 17.

The Foxes host Norwich City before its next stretch of proving ground arrives via a League Cup quarterfinal at Everton prefaces league matches versus Man City and Liverpool.