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MLS Draft: Amaya goes first to expansion FC Cincinnati

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New Major League Soccer club FC Cincinnati made Frankie Amaya its latest player, picking the UCLA midfielder first in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Below is the full list of first round picks made so far:

#1 – FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya, UCLA

A United States youth international, Amaya is a raw midfielder that, despite being the youngest player in the draft, is still far more experienced than most in the pool. His college numbers and production are a big question mark, but he is a consensus high ceiling guy who can make an impact if given time.

#2 – San Jose Earthquakes: Siad Haji, VCU

An well-publicized underwhelming combine didn’t deter San Jose, who took a VCU midfielder that has good attacking ability and great vision, but still has questions to answer about his speed.

#3 – Orlando City: Santiago Pantino, FIU

Known as a strong target man striker, Pantino played with Seattle’s U-23 USL League Two side and could be a legitimate backup option right away.

#4 – FC Dallas (from Colorado): Callum Montgomery, Charlotte

A Generation Adidas player, Montgomery is another guy that has a shot to be a contributor at the back right away, with many believing he’s maybe the most pro-ready player in the draft. His position on this list lends to that belief.

#5 – Colorado Rapids (from Chicago): Andre Shinyashiki, Denver

The Brazilian was a Hermann Award finalist in his senior year, scoring a whopping 28 goals in 21 games during the campaign to lead the nation.

#6 – Toronto FC: Griffin Dorsey, Indiana

#7 – Minnesota United: Dayne St. Clair, Maryland

#8 – Houston Dynamo: Sam Junqua, Cal

#9 – New England Revolution: Tajon Buchanan, Syracuse

#10 – FC Dallas (from Montreal): John Nelson, UNC

#11 – New England Revolution (from Vancouver): DeJuan Jones, Michigan State

#12 – NYCFC (from LA Galaxy): Luis Barraza, Marquette

#13 – FC Cincinnati (from Philadelphia): Logan Gdula, Wake Forest

#14 – DC United: Akeem Ward, Creighton

#15 – Minnesota United (from Chicago via FC Dallas and Colorado): Chase Gasper, Maryland

#16 – NY Red Bulls (from Cincinnati via LAFC): Roy Boateng, UC Davis

#17 – Real Salt Lake: Sam Brown, Harvard

#18 – Columbus Crew: J.J. Williams, Kentucky

#19 – LA Galaxy (from NYCFC): Emil Cuello, SMU

#20 – Seattle Sounders: Tucker Bone, Air Force

#21 – Sporting KC: Kamar Mariott, Florida Gulf Coast

#22 – NY Red Bulls: Janos Loebe, Fordham

#23 – Portland Timbers: Ryan Sierakowski, Michigan St.

#24 – Atlanta United: Anderson Asiedu

Round 2

#25 – NY Red Bulls (from Cincinnati): Sean Nealis, Hofstra

#26 – San Jose Earthquakes: Sergio Rivas, Seattle

#27 – Orlando City: Kamal Miller, Syracuse

#28 – Atlanta United: Marcelo Borges, Michigan

#29 – FC Cincinnati (from Chicago via Philadelphia): Tommy McCabe, Notre Dame

#30 – FC Cincinnati (from Toronto): Jimmy Hague, Michigan St.

#31 – Minnesota United: Hassani Dotson, Oregon St.

#32 – New York Red Bulls (from Houston via Chicago): Rece Buckmaster, Indiana

#33 – Houston Dynamo: Andrew Samuels, Maryland

#34 – Montreal Impact: Amar Sejdic, Maryland

#35 – Vancouver Whitecaps: Brandon McDonough, Georgetown

#36 – LA Galaxy: Don Tchilao, Oregon St.

#37 – FC Cincinnati (from  Philadelphia): Ben Lundt, Akron

#38 – Orlando City (from D.C. United): Tommy Madden, UNC-Charlotte

#39 – Toronto FC (From FC Dallas via Colorado): Adam Wilson, Louisville

#40 – LAFC: Peter-Lee Vassell, Harbor View FC

#41 – Real Salt Lake: Kyle Coffey, Washington

#42 – Colorado Rapids (from Columbus): Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, UConn

#43 – NYCFC: Abdi Mohamed, Akron

#44 – Seattle Sounders: Joel Rydstrand, Creighton

#45 – Sporting KC: Camden Riley, Pacific

#46 – San Jose Earthquakes (from RBNY): Mamadi Camara, Simon Francis

#47 – Portland Timbers: Lennart Hein, Saint Louis

#48 – Atlanta United: Amir Bashti, Stanford

Also, of note, Major League Soccer announced just prior to the draft that the annual Coach of the Year award would be renamed after former LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, and Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who passed away last month. The announcement was fitting as Amaya, a UCLA grad, was selected first just after the announcement. Schmid coached UCLA for nearly 20 years before he moved to the USMNT youth fold and then on to Major League Soccer.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.