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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Pogba to Juventus, Rebic to Manchester United

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With the World Cup over, the transfer season is now in full swing. Players have returned from Russia, some having improved their stock mightily. While the World Cup participants will likely receive an extended vacation from clubs to spend time with families and rest their bodies a bit, transfer season never rests.

According to Italian publication Tuttosport, World Cup champion Paul Pogba may have some leverage this summer and could use that to his advantage. The world could see how effective he was in a box-to-box midfield role under French manager Didier Deschamps with slightly more freedom than he saw under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United this past season where many felt he has room to grow.

The report says that Pogba might use the World Cup performances to leverage his way out of Manchester United and back to Juventus where Cristiano Ronaldo has just signed for a mega-transfer. The report states that Pogba is intrigued to join his old club and be a part of Ronaldo’s tenure in Turin. With Ronaldo at 33 years old, he might not have long at Juventus, and Pogba wishes to take advantage.

Tuttosport, which is based in Turin, says that Pogba retains at the least a professional relationship with all his former teammates, and would welcome a move back to Italy. His current Manchester United contract runs out in 2021, meaning he has three full seasons left on his current deal.


Whether Pogba stays or goes, Manchester United will be looking to improve its squad, with a World Cup runner-up in its sights. There have been rumors of a move for both Croatian wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic, but the latter seems to make more sense. Rebic is just 24 years old, and would likely be the cheaper of the two coming from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt. At the World Cup, the Croatian displayed strength, technical ability, and an innate sense for finding space.

Rebic can play on either wing, playing on the left with his club while deployed on the right with the national team during this summer’s tournament. He would fit in nicely to Manchester United’s squad, which is light on wide attacking players outside of Alexis Sanchez. Rebic would be a perfect foil for Sanchez, preferring to stick to the touchline while Sanchez cuts inside, and enjoying allowing the full-back to overlap.

Reports around England tag Rebic with a $57 million fee, which is just slightly under what Perisic might command from Inter.


In London, there are heavy rumors swirling that Real Madrid will move to make Eden Hazard their replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. Hazard’s national team manager spoke out on the potential move, following Belgium’s third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.

“I believe now is maybe the right time for him to move,” Martinez told Cadena Ser radio in Spain. “With Belgium he displayed maturity and leadership to add to his outstanding talent, I believe he can play for any side. There is not one team in the world he would not fit in and that means he will be the subject of offers from elsewhere.”

“I am sure Chelsea have received a lot of interest in Eden because he is one of the select group of players whose talent is based on individual play.”

Following the completion of Belgium’s win over England in the third-place match, Hazard was quoted as saying it “might be time for something new.” He has been with Chelsea since moving from Lille in the summer of 2012. At Stamford Bridge, Hazard has blossomed into one of the world’s best one-on-one attackers.


According to Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol, Everton is in “advanced talks” with Bordeaux over Brazilian winger Malcom. The report states that Everton is closing in on a $39 million deal for the 21-year-old and Everton’s team will meat with the French club’s representatives on Thursday to hammer out the final version of the transfer.

The potential signing would be a fabulous move, given that Malcom had been linked with not just Inter Milan but other Premier League club Fulham. Reports say Inter had been looking for a loan with an option to buy, whereas Everton was ready to splash the cash now, which intrigued Bordeaux the most.

USL adds new team in Queens, David Villa involved

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David Villa is heading back to New York City.

This time as a club owner.

A second-tier side called Queensboro FC will begin play in the USL Championship in 2021 with Villa, 37, heading up a ownership group who are bringing the team to Queens.

In a statement to ESPN, the former NYCFC and Major League Soccer star is delighted to be part of setting up the new team which will play at York College in Queens.

“Bringing professional football to Queens’ diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can’t think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I’m proud to be part of this project.”

Villa spent four seasons with New York City FC and the Spanish national team legend was one of the best Designated Players in MLS history as he scored 82 goals in 130 appearances across all competitions. Villa is now heading back to the Big Apple to head up QBFC and you have to think there will be some kind of link-up with his former club in the future when it comes to giving NYCFC academy products playing minutes in a professional environment.

Jonathan Krane, CEO of New York City-based asset management company KraneShares, is leading the ownership group and Villa will be retired by 2021 (he currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan) when the team begins play, so he can take up a leading role.

Villa lived in Queens during his time playing for NYCFC and was heavily involved in the local community, setting up his own soccer academies and trying to help youngsters in Queens realize their dreams.

Queensboro FC will now be his next project as Villa’s strong connection with NYC continues.

Liverpool’s move for Ryan Fraser makes perfect sense

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Liverpool are said to be in talks with Bournemouth about signing Ryan Fraser in January.

The Scottish winger is out of contract next summer and talks over a new deal at Bournemouth have so far failed.

Fraser, 25, was a star for the Cherries last season but has only been a bit-part player so far this campaign (adding one goal and two assists) as Eddie Howe plans for a future without him and the tension surrounding his future hasn’t helped matters.

Per a report from talkSPORT in the UK, Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, who is currently on loan at Bournemouth, could make a permanent switch to the South Coast club in January in exchange for the Reds being able to sign Fraser. Per the report, it is expected Bournemouth would also want around $15 million from Liverpool, plus Wilson, for Fraser.

Does this move make sense for Liverpool? Absolutely.

The speedy winger was an assist machine last season, racking up 14 which was the second-highest in the Premier League. Fraser wouldn’t start ahead of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, but he would be a great option off the bench and to play in cup competitions. His style of play is also perfectly suited to Liverpool’s high-tempo and pacy counter attacking.

With Xherdan Shaqiri currently out injured and failing to break in as a regular for Liverpool last season, Fraser would jump ahead of him in the queue for minutes after Liverpool’s attacking trio.

If this move to Liverpool doesn’t work out then Fraser can of course ‘do an Aaron Ramsey‘ and start talking to non-English clubs in January about a free transfer next summer. That’s not something Bournemouth would want, so you can understand their eagerness to at least get a little cash and a promising young player to replace Fraser.

From Liverpool’s point of view, Fraser would be a great addition on the cheap and he still has the prime years of his career ahead of him.

Sterling issues apology after Gomez row

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Raheem Sterling has been left out of the England team for their EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday after a bust-up with Joe Gomez.

According to multiple reports the Man City winger was sat in the players’ canteen when Gomez, the first of several Liverpool players to arrive, walked in and was laughing.

Sterling then reportedly said “you’re the big man now are you?” and confronted Gomez, trying to grab him around the neck as the two were separated.

This all came after Sterling clashed with Gomez in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday, as the England winger was booed heavily by the home fans, plus also clashed with England teammates Jordan Henderson and Trent-Alexander Arnold during the game.

England manager Gareth Southgate released a statement on Monday saying that Sterling would not be available to play against Montenegro but would remain with the squad.

“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw,” Southgate said as he referenced the fiery Liverpool v. Man City clash. “My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.”

Gomez and Sterling both trained for England at St. George’s Park on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on his Instagram page, Sterling issued a public apology to Gomez and apparently the matter is now sorted between the two.

“First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me. Everyone knows that I am not that way inclined and more to the point, both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,” Sterling said. “We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me. We move, this is why we play this sport because of our love for it. Me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a 5-10 second thing. It’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it is. Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday.”

Sterling will be available to play against Kosovo in England’s final EURO 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

It seems like that is that and Southgate has acted swiftly to punish Sterling for his reaction, everyone has accepted it and they’ve drawn a line under it.

These things happen in sport all the time and this is more about the principle of the matter as Southgate doesn’t want to see anything like this in his squad in the future.

The message is now clear, it isn’t acceptable. No matter if you’re one of England’s best players or a youngster who is a bit-part player, the Three Lions squad must stick together.

Borussia Dortmund hurting after heavy loss in Munich

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BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund is hurting again after another heavy Bundesliga defeat in Munich.

Dortmund lost 4-0 in the “der Klassiker” against rival Bayern Munich on Saturday, being fortunate not to concede more goals.

Dortmund’s lackluster performance has been criticized following sporting director Michael Zorc’s call for a “men’s soccer” type of performance in the buildup for the game. Instead, Dortmund delivered what Kicker magazine called “scaredy-cat soccer.”

“A lot of our players just weren’t there today,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. “That’s the biggest disappointment.”

Zorc was even more critical of the performance.

“That wasn’t football at all, to be honest,” he said. “Bayern were on top and better in every respect. Bayern completely took over after 15 minutes and we were second-best at everything. That’s why Bayern also deserved to win by this score.”

It was Dortmund’s fifth consecutive heavy defeat in Munich. It lost 5-0 in April, 6-0 last year, 4-1 in 2017 and 5-1 in 2015. In its last six games in Munich, Dortmund has been outscored 26-3.

“It was beautiful that the talk before the game was of men’s football,” said Bayern forward Thomas Muller, who set up two goals. “As I’m a bit older now, 30, I know that it gives you a bit extra inspiration. The way I see it, that’s why we are German champions seven times in a row. It’s always wonderful when the Dortmunders come to Munich and we play like we did today.”

Bayern appeared to be in crisis after firing coach Niko Kovac following the team’ 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt – its heaviest league defeat in over 10 years.

But Kovac’s dismissal seems to have come as a relief to some players, and interim coach Hansi Flick has now overseen two wins from two competitive games, with no goals conceded. Bayern reached the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Bayern’s will to win on Saturday contrasted sharply with Dortmund’s, which will be under increased pressure after it appeared to have turned a corner following a series of questionable results.

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Dortmund had strung together three consecutive wins – over league leader Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Cup, previously unbeaten Wolfsburg in the league, and Inter Milan in the Champions League, when the team displayed great morale to come back from two goals down and win 3-2.

But there was none of that in Munich on Saturday, and Favre and his superiors are left wondering how to consistently get the best from the talented but fallible team.

“We expected a lot from this game,” Zorc said. “Then we delivered what is basically a non-performance. I’m disappointed. You can’t even say that it was just a lack of challenges. We were also bad when we had the ball, we gave it away and simply made it too easy for Bayern. That was a huge disappointment.”

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Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP