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Wing wizards: Sane, Mahrez eager for Man City glory

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NEW YORK — Historic cannot even begin to describe Manchester City’s 2017/18 season, which resulted in dominating the Premier League, winning the title and shattering records in the process.

[ MORE: Premier League transfer needs for all 20 clubs ]

With an attacking group comparable to that of something out of a FIFA video game and a sturdy back line, second-year manager Pep Guardiola and his side cruised to the club’s third PL crown in the last seven seasons.

Under Guardiola, the Citizens smashed the PL single-season goalscoring record (106), broke the 100-point barrier — a feat that had never been accomplished in England’s top flight — and finished the season 19 points better than rivals Manchester United.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane formed one of the strongest attacks the PL has ever seen, but instead of remaining content with his squad Guardiola went out and acquired one of the league’s top attackers this summer in Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.

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Pro Soccer Talk caught up with two of City’s anticipated influencers ahead of the upcoming season while on tour in the United States for the 2018 International Champions Cup — newcomer Mahrez and Sane — as the duo prepare to carry the Manchester side to new heights in 2018/19.

The Citizens will take on fellow PL giants Liverpool in their second ICC match on Wednesday at MetLife Stadium, before closing out their U.S. tour against Bayern Munich on July 28 in Miami.


For Sane, his second season in the PL was met with increased expectations and even better results for the English champions.

He was duly named the PFA Young Player of the Year as he dazzled with his pace, goals and assists.

However, the positive on-field results for the 22-year-old still left him on the outside looking in this summer when Sane was left off the Germany national team squad that traveled to Russia for the World Cup.

The former Schalke 04 winger told PST that he is using the snub as motivation for the upcoming season and as a goal for him to reach in four years time when the World Cup heads to Qatar.

“It motivated me a lot because it’s a dream for me to play there at the World Cup,” Sane told Pro Soccer Talk. “That’s why I keep working harder and looking forward. We will see what happens over the next four years.”

Man City will aim to continue its dominance from last season during the upcoming PL campaign and in Europe, but Sane will have a new running mate up front.

An embarrassment of riches, including Aguero, De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and two Silvas — David and Bernardo — weren’t enough for Guardiola and Co., with Mahrez introduced to the club over the summer.

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The former Leicester winger became an instant star upon arriving at the King Power Stadium in 2014, and now provides the Citizens with yet another danger man that opposition must be wary of going forward.

Despite his quiet demeanor and relaxed attitude, Sane believes Mahrez is the ideal fit in the Man City system with his languid style and unpredictability complementing City’s other attackers.

“He brings a lot,” Sane said when asked about the addition of Mahrez. “He’s a great player and extremely skillful. He has an unbelievable left foot, which makes our job up front even easier because we can kind of relax a bit more and strike against the other defense.”

Mahrez, who had been linked with a move to City dating back to early last season, finally completed a transfer to the Etihad Stadium on July 10.

The Algeria international believes that by joining the Citizens he can add to one of the top attacks in the world, but the team still needs to back up their star power with strong performances.

“I am very happy,” Mahrez told PST. “It’s a very big club. I’m happy to be part of the project. It was difficult to play against them because they were a very good team, but now I’m excited to be with them playing together.

“We have to show it on the pitch,” Mahrez continued. “We need to consistently score goals and bring home more trophies.”

Wing wizards Sane and Mahrez will be key as Man City aim to deliver back-to-back glory.

Everton reportedly set for sale of $28M Lookman

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Will Everton regret its failure to find the right fit for Ademola Lookman at Goodison Park?

The Toffees are set to sell the 21-year-old striker to RB Leipzig this summer for just $8 million more than they paid Charlton for her services, according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: De Gea wants captaincy ]

Lookman scored five goals with four assists in a half-season loan for RBL in 2018, but could not find regular feature time for the Toffees upon his return.

Yes, the $28 million is still a decent fee, but Lookman is an English striker with U-20 World Cup-winning experience, and was given just three starts from his 21 appearances in the Premier League for Marco Silva‘s men last season (posting two assists in 601 minutes.

Lookman prefers to play left wing, but also operates on the right. Everton has Richarlison, Bernard, and Theo Walcott amongst a relatively deep wing corps.

The stats seem to show that Lookman simply had trouble getting the ball at Everton in comparison to RBL. Maybe he needs to be a bigger part of the show, and we’ll find out whether he can do that with Tyler Adams and Co. in Leipzig.

De Gea hopes for Manchester United captaincy

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Given his seemingly biannual links to returns to Spain and bigger paydays, it might be a bit of a surprise to hear Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea preach up the badge.

Aside from a stumble late last season, however, the 28-year-old has been a dynamo at Old Trafford for several managers.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

He’s also been through the wringer from his early days struggling to find his form in the Premier League, and now has 362 appearances in the Red Devils shirt to go with trophies from the PL, FA Cup, League Cup, and Europa League.

So, yeah, he’s qualified to lead. And as we wait for United to announce his new expensive contract, De Gea is speaking out on his delight in captaining the team and hopes of doing so on a full-time basis.

From Sky Sports:

“I need to show that on the pitch and try to help the young guys know what Manchester United means and that’s important. We have to improve a lot. We are Manchester United; we need to fight for trophies.

“When you put on this badge, that’s what it means – fight for everything, give your best and bring the team again to the top.”

Is there a case to be made for anyone else on the current roster? Probably not, at least not in the form of players who will be expected to suit up nearly every match.

Chicago adds 2010 World Cup qualifying hero Bornstein

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There’s probably part of you who thinks Jonathan Bornstein is on an MLS staff somewhere, that he’s about 46 years old, and the news that he’s joined the Chicago Fire means he’s taken a coaching role like Josh Wolff (who is only 42. Don’t age shame).

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

And we’ll admit that “Chicago adds Jonathan Bornstein” gave us similar vibes, because, hey, didn’t this cat score an amazing, World Cup berth-clinching goal against Costa Rica at RFK in 2009? Yes! He was! I was there with my sister and a couple of buddies, and it was awesome.

Bornstein was, however, just 25 then and a member of Chivas USA (That was an MLS team, young bucks). Bob Bradley drafted him out of UCLA and turned him into a left back.

Now 34 and still a left back, Bornstein spent 2010-present outside of the United States. He’s played in Mexico for Queretaro, Tigres, and Atlante, as well as Israel last season with Maccabi Netanya. He won a Copa MX, a Supercopa MX, and an Apertura title while south of the border.

From Chicago-Fire.com:

“We began pursuing Jonathan back in January but, unfortunately, his insertion into the lineup made him too invaluable to his former club,” said Chicago Fire President and General Manager Nelson Rodrίguez. “In addition to providing a steady presence and competition on the field, we believe Jonathan will be an excellent mentor for our younger players.”

As a returning USMNT international, even no caps since 2011, Chicago had to send $50,000 to Columbus for the top spot in the allocation order.

Bornstein will hope to help Chicago turn around a miserable season which began with such promise. Chicago has been extremely unlucky this season, with a difference of minus-11.7 between expected goals and goals scored.

And I will continue to remember nearly throwing my beverage miles into the air from the upper deck at RFK. Thanks for the memories, Jonathan.

Barcelona exec on Neymar: “We aren’t looking at it”

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Neymar’s reported discontent at Paris Saint-Germain has caused rumors to fly this summer about if he could leave, and where any potential destinations could be.

His old club Barcelona is thought to be a major contender to rescue the Brazilian superstar from his misery, but that may be dead in the water after Barcelona vice president Jordi Cardoner again claimed the club has no interest in his return.

“The president already spoke about it,” Cardoner said from Tokyo where the club is in preseason. “There is no Neymar saga. There is a lot of talk and he doesn’t appear happy there but we aren’t looking at it.”

This is not the first time Cardoner has gone public to deny Neymar rumors. Even as far back as last October, Cardoner said “No one on the Barcelona board has talked about the possibility of bringing back Neymar, right now we can’t talk about it because no one has even mentioned it.”

Cardoner is not the only Barcelona member talking down a potential Neymar return. New arrival Antoine Griezmann also made statements claiming the club would struggle to make it happen even if they wanted to. Speaking about possibly linking up with Neymar with Barcelona, the former Atletico Madrid striker spoke highly of Neymar’s playing ability, but admitted it would take some significant time to complete. “We have to get it done first because it is a difficult transfer, but he is a great player,” Griezmann said from Tokyo.

Neymar has had a troubled past 12 months, facing rape charges in Brazil, suspensions in both European and domestic French competitions, and even taking Barcelona to court last year for payments he believed he was owed.