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Arteta emerges as clear favorite for Arsenal job

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It’s becoming increasingly likely that Mikel Arteta is the favorite to take over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Arteta, 36, has been working as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City over the past two seasons but spent the final five years of his playing career at Arsenal and was club captain, winning the FA Cup once despite injuries mounting up at the end of his playing days.

And now the Spaniard, according to several reports, has emerged as the clear front runner to succeed Wenger who has stepped down after almost 22 years in charge. German coach Julian Nagelsmann, who led Hoffenheim to a club-best third place finish in the Bundesliga this season, was also favored but the 30-year-old coach isn’t available according to his club.

That leaves Arteta in the clear as it has seemed for some time that Arsenal wanted a younger coach with fresh ideas to reinvigorate their squad after a disappointing past two seasons under Wenger. Arteta would also align with the new structure of the club behind-the-scenes after several high level appointments in recruitment and director roles in recent months (head of football relations Raul Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat have both arrived) as they prepared for life after Wenger.

Is Arteta a good fit?

In many ways he ticks all of the right boxes. He will be hungry to impress in his first managerial job, he knows the club inside out after spending the latter stages of his playing days as club captain and his coaching philosophy aligns with that of his hero, Guardiola, who he’s helped to develop one of the greatest teams soccer has ever seen over the past 12 months.

Guardiola has lauded Arteta and hopes he stays, although Man City’s manager has admitted he will not stand in the way of his assistant if he wants to move on. Reports are also emerging that Arteta is hugely respected by City’s playing squad as he helps to get Guardiola’s message across on a daily basis. That’s no mean feat given the tactical nous needed to not only understand but help players understand what Pep wants.

Like Pep, Arteta was a cerebral player, a fluid central midfielder who made the best out of his career from his days in Barcelona’s academy to breaking through at Real Sociedad, then moving to PSG, Glasgow Rangers, Everton and Arsenal. He was a player who could see passes others couldn’t and was respected wherever he went as he played in a more advanced role at Everton but returned to a more defensive role in central midfield at Arsenal.

This message below when he left Arsenal in 2016 says a lot about not only Arteta’s character but also his love for the Gunners and coaching.

His class on and off the pitch slots in with Arsenal’s philosophy and the one which Wenger has created, plus, let’s be real, he would also represent a much cheaper option to the likes of Max Allegri or Luis Enrique who are being touted as potential successors to Wenger.

Arteta has come out of left-field a little, especially with no prior managerial experience, but in many regards he would be the perfect choice to not only replace Wenger but keep the playing style and culture he cultivated intact.

PSG signs American defender Alana Cook from Stanford

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s team has signed American defender Alana Cook from Stanford University.

The 21-year-old Cook, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, has signed until June 2022. She was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year this season for her performances with Stanford and has represented the U.S. at Under-20 level.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

She played 93 games and scored five goals for Stanford.

PSG’s women’s team is second in the French first division and sits two points behind five-time European champion Lyon after 15 rounds.

Cook says “I really wanted to play in a European club and to play against the best teams in the world.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

MLS notes: Zimmerman spurns Europe, Vazquez sold, DC youngster in remission

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Let’s sweep up some good, somewhat-expected, and wonderful news from around Major League Soccer.

DC United defender and Maryland product Chris Odoi-Atsem announced that he is in remission after a fight with Stage Two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

Odoi-Atsem was expected to undergo four months of chemotherapy, and the announcement comes just under three months into the journey.

At 23, Odoi-Atsem hopes to rejoin the team after his final round of chemo later this month. He was the 12th overall draft pick in 2017.

Another defender is extending his stay in Los Angeles.

USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman was a huge part of LAFC’s success as an expansion club following his arrival from FC Dallas, and was reportedly ready to test the waters of European soccer with interest from the Premier League, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga.

But Bob Bradley pushed the right buttons and LAFC will have its 25-year-old mainstay back in the fold via a Targeted Allocation Money contract running through the 2022 season.

Finally, one of the key pieces to Toronto FC’s 2017 MLS Cup triumph is on his way out of Ontario.

Victor Vazquez is going to be sold to an unnamed Qatari club, pending a physical according to TSN’s Kristian Jack.

The 32-year-old scored posted 18 goals and 15 primary assists for TFC.

Transfer rumor roundup: Pellegrini to Man Utd? Dabbur wants Liverpool

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As Arsenal might be losing its head of recruitment, other Premier League movers and shakers are looking to bring big names to the Top Four fight.

If Northern Ireland is the hub for transfer movement, January is going to be a wild ride for one of the Premier League’s flagship clubs.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Manchester United is pursuing young Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini in addition to the whispers linking the club to former Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho.

Pellegrini, 22, has two goals and six assists for Roma this season, having become a regular call-up for Italy. He reportedly has a $35 million release clause in his contract, though he is cup-tied in the Champions League (Roma next faces Porto).

His 2.6 key passes per game lead Roma and only AC Milan’s Suso and Atalanta’s Alejandro Gomez average more across Serie A. Pellegrini is second on Roma in crosses with 1.5.

How does $115 million sound for an elite 27-year-old defender? That’s what Napoli would reportedly accept from Real Madrid to bring Kalidou Koulibaly west to Spain.

The report, which also links Real with interest in Roma’s Kostas Manolas and Porto’s Eder Miliato, says United remains interested in the player despite the exit of admirer Jose Mourinho.

Anything more than $97 million, the fee Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk, would break the world transfer record for a defender.

Meanwhile, Israeli striker Munas Dabbur is angling to bring his 20-goal season to Anfield.

Reports that Dabbur has turned down a move to Valencia in the hopes of joining Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino at Liverpool.

The Red Bull Salzburg striker has scored half of his 20 goals in the Champions League and Europa League, and has 11 Israel caps.

The cost for Dabbur is said to be $28 million, but is there any guarantee Dabbur can produce at a level that would demand playing time. Divock Origi has three goals in six matches and can hardly get time for the Reds, and Daniel Sturridge has only found 576 minutes in the first half of the season.

Arsenal to reportedly lose head of recruitment Mislintat

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The man expected to usher in an era of exciting new young talent at Arsenal may be leaving the club after less than 14 months.

Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, 46, has been hailed as the man who discovered Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while at Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

Well-connected reporter Raphael Honigstein says Mislintat is frustrated by a change in recruitment policy since Ivan Gazidis left the Emirates Stadium. Gazidis hired Mislintat to use analytics and stats to find diamonds, whereas new head of football Raul Sanllehi prefers to work his own network for players.

Mislintat is considered the key to bringing in Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as clear connections like former BVB center back Sokratis Papastathopolous.

His departure would be a shot across the bow of an organization which enjoyed stability under Gazidis and Arsene Wenger for years.