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Reports: Simeone, Southgate on Manchester United’s list

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It seems Manchester United’s pursuit of a new manager has not lost any steam, even as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer puts his undefeated Manchester United record on the line Sunday.

The Red Devils have been linked with two more names this weekend, one a long-time whisper and the other a bit of a surprise.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

The Daily Mirror reports that Diego Simeone has been “sounded out” by United’s brass, with 18 months left on his Atletico Madrid contract and La Liga’s mainstays actively seeking to extend his 7-year reign in Spain.

And United is also considering England boss Gareth Southgate as an option, according to Sky Sports, touting the manager’s acumen in developing young players and strong reputation in the soccer community.

The two options could hardly be more different, or less likely. Simeone is a no-brainer for literally any open job on Earth, while Southgate’s flower has just bloomed and is merely a prospect having held one Premier League job at the club level.

Simeone is a master tactician capable of leading an aggressive attack, but more likely to err on the side prudent of than free-flowing at all costs, especially in big matches.

A fireball on the sidelines, Simeone also has a resume reputation few managers can touch. He won La Liga during the Ronaldo-Messi era in 2013-14, twice claimed the Europa League, has won the Copa del Rey, and was a two-time Champions League runner-up all while dealing with sales of Theo Hernandez, Arda Turan, Mario Mandzukic, Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, and David De Gea (who has since returned).

As for Southgate, his reputation has grown in a big way since leading England to the 2018 World Cup semifinal and the inaugural UEFA Nations League knockout rounds. He has unrivaled job security in terms of the Three Lions job, having led England’s U-21 to the Toulon Tournament title and helped developed many of their stars.

But his club experience as a manager is less impressive, winning 29 percent of his games at Middlesbrough over three seasons. He led Boro to 12th, 13th, and 19th place Premier League finishes, and left the relegated club in its first season during the Championship.

Southgate would still, of course, be an attractive option.

Italian soccer federation signs deal with Chinese government

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ROME (AP) The Italian soccer federation has signed a wide-ranging memorandum with the Chinese government to promote soccer between the two countries.

The deal foresees playing the Italian Super Cup or Italian Cup in China within the next three years.

[ MORE: Upsets in EURO qualifying ]

The Italian Super Cup – which pits the Serie A champion against the Italian Cup champion – has already been played in China four times over the last 10 years.

The meeting with China Media Group head Shen Haixiong also focused on TV content and rights, collaboration over developing young Chinese players in Italy and instruction for using the video assistant referee.

Shen was in Rome for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Italian federation president Gabriele Gravina says, “Soccer has shown once again to be a bridge between different cultures.”

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

WATCH: Asprilla scores terrific bicycle kick on USL cameo

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Portland Timbers forward Dairon Asprilla has had to spend some time in the USL Championship this season, and the second tier would probably like to see Gio Savarese keep the Colombian in Major League Soccer.

[ REPORT: Liverpool to sell Keita? ]

Asprilla scored twice and added an assists on Saturday night in a defeat of Eric Wynalda’s Las Vegas Lights, and he put up a near picture perfect bicycle kick on the highlight reel.

Watch as he sets himself up, willingly or not, for the endeavor before splashing a shot in the side panel for an amazing aesthetic.

Report: Bayern, BVB ready to buy Keita from Liverpool

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A report claims that Liverpool is ready to admit defeat in the case of Naby Keita.

Keita, 24, was bought from RB Leipzig last season and arrived at Anfield in the summer, but has struggled to find consistent playing time under Jurgen Klopp.

[ VIDEO: USMNT’s Saief shines for FC Cincinnati ]

Viewed as the missing link between the Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s torrential attack, Keita has not come close to replicating the form that saw his price tag reach $69 million.

Indeed, Team Talk says Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich look prepared to pay around $53 million to bring Keita back to the Bundesliga.

Keita has played 27 matches in all competitions for Liverpool, accumulating 1,388 minutes and just one assist. He had nine goals and seven assists in more than double the minutes one season ago.

According to WhoScored.com, he’s passing the ball better and taking almost a foul less than last season, but almost every other measurable has declined since he moved to England.

I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking Keita would be everything the Reds required after an improved 2017-18, but he’s either being used very poorly or having trouble adjusting to the culture.

It’s early to quit on a player so talented, but maybe Klopp and he just don’t mesh well. But if it isn’t a case of clashing with the club, it may be worth waiting out a player who looked a giant just eight months ago.

EURO qualifying: Hungary stings Croatia, Israel hangs 4 on Austria

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It wasn’t just Germany and the Netherlands staging a tight and entertaining match in EURO 2020 qualifying on Sunday.

[ VIDEO: Saief, Manneh lead FC Cincinnati ]

Hungary 2-1 Croatia

Ante Rebic’s early goal made a “business as usual” statement for the World Cup runners-up, but Hungary can be a handful against any opponents and rallied at home.

Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai brought the hosts level at halftime, and Mate Patkai gave Hungary a deserved 2-1 win in Budapest.

Coming three days after a loss in Slovakia to start qualifying, it was an early almost-must-win for Marco Rossi’s men.

Israel 4-2 Austria

Marko Arnautovic‘s brace in defeat couldn’t have come with different vibes. His eighth minute marker gave the Austrians a leg up, his 75th minute goal meaning very little with the side having conceded four-straight in between.

China-based striker Eran Zahavi scored a hat trick for Israel, and RB Salzburg star Munas Dabbur scored the fourth goal to keep the hosts within sight of first place Poland.

Austria is winless through two qualifiers.

Elsewhere
Wales 1-0 Slovakia
Cyprus 0-2 Belgium
San Marino 0-2 Scotland
Netherlands 2-3 Germany — RECAP, VIDEO
Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus
Poland 2-0 Latvia
Slovenia 1-1 Macedonia
Kazakhstan 0-4 Russia