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Will he stay or will he go?: Atlanta United and Tata Martino

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For the second time in a month, Atlanta United manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino had to deny reports that he was set to leave Atlanta United for another national team position.

This week, reports emerged that Martino was weighing his options between extending his deal with Atlanta United or taking either the Mexico National Team or Argentine National Team jobs, both of which are open, still months after the World Cup was completed. Martino’s contract with Atlants ends at the end of the season and he’s reportedly told the team’s front office that he’ll decide his future by Monday, though that date is fluid.

While Martino has continued to deny the reports and states his focus lies solely on this weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with the New York Red Bulls, clearly where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Perhaps Martino’s representatives are speaking to the Mexico and Argentina FAs, or perhaps he’s looking to leverage his MLS success into another big-time national team position. Martino of course coached Argentina from 2014-2016, leaving after the final defeat in the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the U.S.

Either way, we’ll know more next week when Martino is supposed to make an announcement. Martino’s arrival in the first place was huge for MLS’ legitimacy worldwide – does Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron or Tito Villalba make the move to MLS without him? – but losing him may be even bigger, just as Atlanta United is on the precipice of making a deep run in the playoffs. Even if Martino announces he is leaving but stays through the end of the season, it’s unlikely a coach of his pedigree will come right in and replace him, even with Atlanta’s vast budget. There have been rumors that another Argentine, former Albiceleste and Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli would take over, but it’s not clear whether these rumors are grounded in any possible outcome.

For Atlanta United – and perhaps the U.S. Men’s National Team’s sake -, keeping Martino at home in Atlanta is the best possible outcome.

Oxlade-Chamberlain back in Liverpool training

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in Liverpool training, nine months after a horrible injury cost him the chance to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Initially ruled out for the duration of the 2018-19 season following an ACL year, “The Ox” is giving the Reds a boost in Dubai.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The 25-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain posted five goals and seven assists in his first season at Liverpool.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has 32 England caps and 283 senior appearances between Southampton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. He left the Gunners in part because of a desire to play a more central role in the midfield.

Oxlade-Chamberlain detailed his recovery late last year. There’s yet to be discussion of when he might be fit to return to match play, but Liverpool will be careful with its industrious playmaker.

Montreal owner Saputo hands presidency duties to Gilmore

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Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo is giving the reigns of his club to a new president.

Saputo announced Tuesday that he’s handing over presidency duties to Kevin Gilmore, the former chief operating officer of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The Saputo family founded the Impact in 1992, and Joey Saputo shepherded the club into Major League Soccer.

The Impact is coached by Remi Garde, the former Aston Villa boss, and has Designated Players in Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taidir. The Bleu-blanc-noir just started training camp.

Cardiff “very distressed,” “praying for positive news” regarding Sala

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Cardiff City executive director Ken Choo has released a statement on the missing flight from France to Wales which carried new signing Emiliano Sala.

Crews in Wales continue to search for the plane, which disappeared from radar late Monday night.

UPDATE: The Guernsey Police say the search and rescue operations have ceased for the night, with “the current plan to resume at sunrise” on Wednesday.

Fans have flocked to Cardiff City Stadium and Nantes town square to lay flowers in hopes of a miraculous recovery for Sala and his pilot.

From Cardiff City’s official site:

“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

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MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, was in court for about 45 minutes and signed an agreement which will cost him nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million) in fines.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Ronaldo arrived at court in a black van and was wearing a black sports coat and black pants. He walked up some stairs leading to the court house and even stopped to sign an autograph.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

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