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Rodgers, Parker reveal pride at new jobs

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There will be two new Premier League managers in the dugouts this weekend, as Brendan Rodgers takes charge of Leicester City for the first time and Scott Parker steps in at Fulham.

Rodgers’ first game in charge of the Foxes will be at Watford on Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), while Parker’s Fulham host Chelsea in a west London derby on the same day (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

After leaving Celtic, Rodgers has been the subject of abuse from fans of the Scottish giants but in his first press conference as Leicester boss the lifelong Celtic fan explained the decision he made was an incredibly tough one.

“It is a very, very difficult decision. If I was making this decision with my heart then I’d be at Celtic for life. It is an incredible club that I have supported all my life. If all happened very quickly,” Rodgers said. “I was presented an opportunity that came to me and of course, emotionally, you’re having to take that out. My decision was that after nearly three years at Celtic, with everything we achieved, the success we had on the pitch and the improvements we made off the pitch, I felt it was probably time to move on to my next challenge. I’ve had opportunities to leave in my three years at Celtic, but this was an opportunity I felt was too good to turn down.”

Rodgers added that “Celtic supporters will hurt” and he “understands how they feel” as there is now uncertainty regarding their future under interim manager Neil Lennon.

But focusing on Leicester, Rodgers believes qualifying for Europe and winning one of the domestic cup competitions is a realistic aim for his talented young squad.

“With the club having that ambition to move forward and keep progressing, that was ultimately what was the real draw. The expectancy is to challenge for a European place and look to win a trophy. That has to be the expectation,” Rodgers said. “I think what Leicester achieved a few years ago [winning the Premier League title] was an incredible story. It is recognized as one of the most incredible stories in the history of football. That will always be difficult to repeat. However, after a couple of years of instability their object is to move forward. For me to come here at this stage of the season was to come in and assess where the squad is at over these last remaining games and see where we can improve.”


Parker admitted that he has “mixed emotions” to take his first managerial job, as the former Charlton, Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham, Newcastle and Fulham midfielder takes over from Claudio Ranieri.

The Italian coach was fired after Fulham lost 2-0 at Southampton on Wednesday as they’re now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go.

Parker, who was part of Ranieri’s coaching staff, has been placed in interim charge until the end of the season and his remit is clear: restore pride to the team.

“It’s definitely an audition. On a personal note this is something I started working towards seven years ago when I was a Spurs player,” Parker said. “I’ve got an ambition to be a manager. My main focus at this moment in time is getting the team together, finding some stability.”

The former England international knows it will be a huge ask to keep Fulham in the PL now, as the Cottagers have an very tough schedule remaining. After their clash against Chelsea on Sunday they face Leicester, Liverpool and Man City.

Parker knows miracles aren’t expected of him, and his main aim is to knit the squad of players together.

“The situation doesn’t lie. It’s a tough ask but I’m relishing the opportunity of testing ourselves against these big teams. We need to get a balance back. As a club, as fans, as players, as owners, we just need to regroup a little bit,” Parker said. “If we do that well, results will be a by-product of that. I hope I can transmit my passion to the team, get my energy across. I know there’s more to football than passion and drive, but that’s a fundamental element.”

Reports: Napoli agree record fee for Hirving Lozano

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Mexico’s most expensive player ever will soon be Hirving “Chucky” Lozano.

According to multiple reports, PSV Eindhoven and Napoli have agreed to a $46 million transfer fee for the Mexican international. According to Sky Sport 24‘s Francesco Modugno, the 24-year-old will travel to Rome on Tuesday and complete his medical on Wednesday morning, ending the Serie A club’s summer-long pursuit.

Lozano will reportedly sign a five-year deal with Gli Azzurri worth $4 million per year plus bonuses.

Over the course of the past few months, Napoli were also linked with Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez. In the end, Carlo Ancelotti, who is planning to give Juventus a run for their money this season, is adding the speedy winger to his attacking corps that features the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik.

Despite coming off injured in the 50th minute against ADO Den Haagg in his last PSV appearance, it is believed it won’t influence Lozano’s medical. He will break the transfer record for a Mexican player set by Raul Jimenez in his summer move to Wolverhampton Wanderers from Benfica worth $43 million.

Having sold Memphis Depay for nearly $39 million in 2015 to Manchester United, Lozano’s departure would set a new record for the Dutch giants as well.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Report: Edinson Cavani set to join Inter Miami next summer

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Edinson Cavani is reportedly set to make a big splash in Florida.

According to Uruguayan journalist Alvaro Izquierdo, Cavani, 32, is set to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami next summer. The club will make their MLS debut next season.

The specifics of the supposed move are not know, but per the report from Izquierdo, Cavani will join Miami on a free transfer after his contract with PSG expires in June. Since joining in 2013, El Matador has been irreplaceable for the French giants, scoring over 160 goals and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. This season, Cavani is off to a perfect start -scoring in the first two games of the Ligue 1 season.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The striker is one of the first superstars linked to Miami, but the general vibe given off by owners Jorge Mas and Beckham is that the club will look to spend big – similar to Atlanta United, LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Miami has signed three players so far ahead of their 2020 MLS debut – Christian Makoun, Julian Carranza, and Matias Pellegrini all currently makeup the squad.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.