Getty Images

Transfer Rumor Roundup: De Gea replacement tabbed, Man City duo to stay

Leave a comment

Manchester United has been linked with a zillion players this summer, and half the battle for fans is sifting through the nonsense and finding the deals that might actually make sense for the club.

One that seems to have significant legs is a report from a number of English tabloids on Monday and Tuesday that states Manchester United has made contact with Lille over goalkeeper Mike Maignan, seeing the French club respond with a valuation of around $39 million.

It seems the Red Devils are searching for long-term plans to replace David De Gea, whether the Spaniard leaves this summer via a sale or next summer at the expiration of his contract. Contract talks with de Gea have very publicly stalled over the past few months, and rumors again have flown of his eventual exit. The reports state that Manchester United had preliminary discussions with Barcelona for backup goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, but the Spanish side has reportedly been steadfast on holding to the Dutchman’s release clause of $67 million.

That has seen them search for cheaper options amid a summer that is expected to be expensive for the Red Devils. One could be Maignan who played every minute of Lille’s fabulous second-place Ligue 1 campaign last season, keeping 15 clean sheets and sporting the league’s best defensive record with 33 goals conceded in 38 matches. The club conceded two or more goals in a game just nine times all league season, and conceded three goals just once. The 23-year-old, who came to Lille in 2015 from PSG’s youth squad, was named goalkeeper of the year by the French professional footballers association for his fantastic campaign this year and earned his first call-up to the France national team squad for this summer’s Euro qualifiers, beating out Hugo Lloris‘s World Cup backup Steve Mandanda.


The two Manchester rivals appear to be the leaders in the chase for Benfica playmaker Joao Felix, with The Mirror stating the two clubs are in control of the market as they hope to get one last glimpse of the 19-year-old as Portugal takes on Switzerland in the Nations League semifinal Wednesday where the teenager is expected to earn his senior debut.

The report states that Felix could cost as much as a massive $150 million after a season where he racked up 15 goals and nine assists in league play for the Portuguese champions, plus another five goals and two assists in other competitions. Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked to Felix in the past, but a report late last week said Los Blancos were scared off by his massive price, seeing a bid of around $101 million rejected, causing them to focus their efforts instead on Eden Hazard.

With superagent Jorge Mendes in tow, Felix and Benfica are both certain to cash in this summer, but it remains to be seen which club can snag his services. Manchester City would likely need to offload the likes of Leroy Sane in order to both raise the funds and create squad space for Felix.


The potential sale of Sane to Bayern Munich, which ramped up over the last week after the German side submitted a sizable bid for the 23-year-old, has seemed to hit a wall. Bayern hoped to pry Sane away from Manchester City after an up-and-down season saw the German international fail to secure a steady place in the starting lineup. Still, City seems ready to put up a fight, rejecting the bid and causing Bayern executive Uli Hoeness to declare the English club’s valuation of Sane “insane.”

While Sane’s future remains up in the air, a pair of other Man City stars look set to stay at the Etihad next season with David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan both eyeing more silverware in Manchester according to the BBC. Silva’s contract expires next summer, but at 33 years old, the club is happy to see him play out the remainder of his deal, as he would likely net very little in the transfer market this time around. Despite his increasing age, Silva has remained a critical part of the Man City attack, making 33 league appearances last season while scoring six goals and assisting eight. He started all but four of City’s final 19 matches as they battled Liverpool for the Premier League title.

Gundogan was also a fixture in the squad, shaking off an early hamstring injury that cost him all of October to make 31 Premier League appearances and starting all but one of the final 14 matches of the season to help carry the title chase. According to the BBC report, talks are ongoing to extend Gundogan’s contract which currently expires next summer. The 28-year-old joined three summers ago from Borussia Dortmund, and while he lost most of his first season with the club to an ACL tear, he has come back to prove a vital player in Pep Guardiola‘s setup.

The report does state, however, that Fabian Delph and Danilo could look to move on this summer after a season that proved trying for both to find consistent time on the pitch.


Another Premier League attacker who could be set to stay at his current club is Champions League final goalscorer Divock Origi, who according to The Mirror has been offered a new contract. The club is reportedly confident of tying down the 24-year-old to a new deal, with his current contract set to expire next summer.

Origi was a Champions League hero, scoring twice in the miracle comeback against Barcelona before his goal sealed the title in the 2-0 win over Tottenham. His three critical goals came on his only three shots in Champions League play, failing to record many minutes prior to his appearances down the stretch as necessitated by an injury to regular striker Roberto Firmino.

Still just 24 years old, Origi has not been a regular part of the Liverpool squad since arriving from Lille in 2014, instead loaned back to Lille before a loan spell at Germany’s Wolfsburg. He decided to stay at Anfield this season and fight for a place, earning just 366 Premier League minutes and 763 minutes across all competitions. Still, his performances in the biggest games of the season have seen him become a fan favorite, and staying at Anfield will make the Liverpool faithful happy.


Amid recent rape allegations surrounding an incident in Paris, Neymar has been reportedly unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain after the club’s most recent Champions League flop and his own flurry of personality issues. Still, he is signed on with the club through the summer of 2022, leaving him under PSG control for at least the next season or two.

According to a report by French radio station RMC Sport as passed on by Spanish publication Marca, PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelafi has deemed Neymar “untransferrable” and has said the Brazilian superstar will not leave the club this summer despite interest from both Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Ronaldo not ready for retirement: ‘Age is just a number’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo reassured Juventus supporters and his legions of fans worldwide that at 34 he’s not ready for retirement yet.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule

“Age is just a number. It does not mean that at 34, 35, 36 you are at the end of your career,” Ronaldo said at a news conference ahead of Juventus’ Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday. “I can show that with my performances, how I play, the way I play, the way I still feel good, sharp, thinking about the game, more mature. This makes the difference.”

In the second season of a four-year deal at Juventus, Ronaldo had sparked concern among his fans when he said in an interview published a few weeks ago that he was starting to enjoy seeing himself “outside of football, so who knows what will happen in the next year or two?”

Ronaldo recently scored his 700th goal as a professional while on international duty with Portugal and has been nominated for a record sixth Ballon d’Or award – which would break his tie of five with Lionel Messi.

But Ronaldo said he’s more interested in winning a treble with Juventus.

“We want to win Serie A, we want to win the Cup, the Champions League,” he said. “Juventus should think big. … We are going to try to win all the trophies, we know it will be difficult, especially the league and the Champions League, but I think it is possible. Everything is possible.

“In terms of individual, I have nothing to say as this is individual. It is not the most important thing,” Ronaldo added. “The most important is the collective awards. If you win the collective awards you have more chance to win the individual awards. … The Golden Ball is for me in second place.”

While retirement may not be on Ronaldo’s mind yet, family time is a big part of his life now.

“To win games, to score goals, to enjoy myself, to arrive home and see my kids happy and say, `Congratulations daddy for scoring a goal.’ That makes me happy,” he said. “This is my motivation to come to train, for the games, to entertain people and the fans with my passion.”

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Carragher apologizes to Evra over Suarez t-shirts

Leave a comment

Jamie Carragher has apologized to Patrice Evra after Liverpool wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez in 2011.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The day after Suarez was banned for eight games by the English Football Association, who found him guilty of racially abusing Evra, Liverpool’s players put on t-shirts with Suarez on the front and back during their warm up in a Premier League game against Wigan Athletic.

Carragher and Evra were both analysts for our partners at Sky Sports in the UK on Monday Night Football for the clash between Sheffield United and Arsenal, and discussed the current problems with racism in the game.

“There is no doubt we made a massive mistake; that was obvious,” Carragher said.

Liverpool’s former vice-captain asked Evra how he felt regarding the situation with Suarez, and the former Man United, Juventus and Monaco left back revealed his disgust at the way the situation was handled.

“When I saw it I was like, this is ridiculous. This is unbelievable,” Evra said. You put your own club in danger when you do those things. You always have to support your player because he is from your team but this was after the ban. If it was before and we were waiting for the sanction, I would understand. What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words.”

Click play on the video above for the full discussion between Carragher and Evra.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich