Getty Images

Herrera, Valencia, Welbeck all released, Mata offered extension

Leave a comment

With the end of the season comes the expiration of contracts, and as Premier League teams begin the offseason and the end of June nears, more and more clubs are working to pin down their rosters and make room for imminent transfer arrivals.

Manchester United announced the release of 15 players on Friday, including captain Antonio Valencia and midfielder Ander Herrera, while Arsenal confirmed the departure of striker Danny Welbeck.

The Red Devils have cleaned house, although most of the departures are youth players who never made an impact on the first team squad. The most notable names are Valencia and Herrera, with the former ending a 10-year career at Old Trafford that saw the Ecuadorian international rack up 339 appearances and score 25 goals while assisting 62 more. Valencia hoisted two Premier League championship trophies and won domestic cup competitions three times, also winning the Europa League once.

At 33 years old, Valencia made just six Premier League appearances for the club this past season, and his time at Old Trafford was clearly coming to an end. It will be interesting to see where Valencia lands should he decide to continue playing.

Herrera, meanwhile, is leaving Manchester United still in the prime of his career. At 29 years old, Herrera made 28 appearances last season and was an integral part of the Red Devils midfield. Still, with his contract expiring and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaving Herrera out of the squad a number of times down the stretch, the Red Devils decided not to extend the Spaniard and he moves on from the club after five years at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata was not on the released list despite his contract ending this summer, instead appearing on the retained list, and reports in England indicate that he has been offered a new contract which the club is hopeful he will sign. At 31 years old, Mata has been with the Red Devils since joining from Chelsea in 2014, and while he was not a regular starter for the club this season, he is still an important squad player racking up over 1,700 minutes across all competitions.

Welbeck sees a five-year Arsenal career come to a close as he departs the Emirates on the expiration of his contract. The 28-year-old England international made 126 appearances for the Gunners but was hampered by consistent injury problems, with his knee, ankle, hip, and groin all troubling him at some stage or another. He began this season as a consistent option off the bench for Unai Emery but suffered a broken ankle in early November and never returned to action. Still in the prime of his career, Welbeck could be an important free transfer for a club that is willing to take the risk brought on by his injury history, and if he can find some luck and stay healthy, he could still have an impact wherever he should land.

Charlotte MLS club files copyrights for eight potential names

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It is being heavily reported that Charlotte is the next city to earn a club in the rapidly expanding Major League Soccer landscape, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has taken the next step towards that possibility.

The new club needs a name, and they appear to be nearing a selection. Tepper filed for eight different name copyrights, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue who confirmed the copyrights were filed under Tepper’s Panthers address.

Here is the list of names he filed copyright requests for:

“Charlotte FC” would be a bare-bones and generic name that follows in the footsteps of recent MLS expansion clubs such as Orlando City SC, NYCFC or LAFC. Others are a little more colorful, including “Carolina Gliders FC” or “Charlotte Monarchs FC,” while a few others like “Charlotte Town FC” or “Charlotte Athletic FC” clearly call forth thoughts of smaller English clubs.

Rodrigue speculated that the relative lack of “Carolina” encompassing names is potentially due to the possibility of an expansion bid from Raleigh down the road, and a Carolina team would potentially provide an unnecessary roadblock to that future prospect. There is a clear lack of region-encompassing names in Major League Soccer, with “New England Revolution” the only example, and there’s no real reason to break that mold with another potential bid city down the road.

Which name is your favorite? What would you have gone with if you could name the club?

LIVE, UCL: Two knockout spots remain; Man City, Tottenham in play

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two more spots in the knockout round remain unclaimed as the final day of group stage play begins on Wednesday.

Groups C and D both require a second team to progress through to the Round of 16, with five teams still in the mix.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Manchester City has already won Group D, but the remaining three teams Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, and Atalanta all remain in contention for the second spot. Shakhtar currently sits second and has a home match with Atalanta, while Dinamo Zagreb host Man City in Croatia. Both those games feature in the early 12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Group D, meanwhile, has a pair of sides vying for the last spot. Atletico Madrid has a point advantage, currently sitting in second with a home match against already eliminated Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow. Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, hosts group winners Juventus in Germany.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur has already locked up a spot in the knockout stage, locked into the second spot in Group A, and they finish out the group stage with a visit to confirmed group winners Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho told the press he forbid his players from watching any footage of the 7-2 defeat to Bayern to begin group stage play, and is resting “a few players” ahead of the festive Premier League fixtures.

Finally, Group A has already been decided with Real Madrid confirmed to finish second behind winners Paris Saint-Germain, but the two still have to complete the fixture list. Madrid heads to Belgium to take on Club Brugge, while PSG hosts Galatasaray. The Spanish side is most likely to rest players, with a weekend visit to Valencia coming up on Sunday followed by a midweek El Clasico that was rescheduled from earlier in the season.

Below is the full schedule for the last UCL games on Wednesday, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted, and you can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Wednesday Champions League action

Group A

Club Brugge v. Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v. Galatasaray

Group B

Bayern Munich v. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiakos v. Red Star Belgrade

Group C

Dinamo Zagreb v. Manchester City (12:55 p.m. ET)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Atalanta (12:55 p.m. ET)

Group D

Atletico Madrid v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen v. Juventus

Late goalkeeper strike seals knockout spot in UEFA Youth League

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Club Brugge goalkeeper Senne Lammens may just be 17 years old, but he just lived every goalkeeper’s dream: to score a dramatic equalizer in the dying seconds of a game to send the club through to a European competition’s knockout stage.

The young goalkeeper came forward on a corner in the 94th minute of a game against Real Madrid in the UEFA Youth League Wednesday morning in Belgium. With the visitors leading 2-1 and added time just about expired, Brugge needed to score an equalizer to secure passage to the knockout stage, lest they be left at the mercy of Galatasaray’s match against PSG.

Lammens delivered. The corner swung in to the top of the six-yard box and the youngster was on hand to head home a pinpoint effort inside the far post.

The header was quite literally the last act of the game, with stoppage time already creeping more than 60 seconds past the minimum three added minutes.

Lammens has shuttled back and forth between the youth squad and the senior squad this season serving occasionally as an emergency third goalkeeper behind Simon Mignolet and Ethan Horvath. Mostly, though, he’s been with the youth squad appearing in five of their six UEFA Youth League games, with three wins and a draw.

Report: Arsenal not interested in Ancelotti “profile”

Getty Images
1 Comment

According to The Athletic reporter David Ornstein, Arsenal is not interested in a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s “profile.”

The Italian was recently let go by Napoli after a disappointing first half of the season despite qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage.

Ancelotti has won a Premier League title, three Champions League titles, and a Scudetto during his career but apparently a manager with his resume does not interest the Gunners, who may be looking for a more youthful boss with a longer-term strategy and potentially stronger club or domestic ties.

At 60 years old, Ancelotti has been fired from posts at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and now Napoli over the last four years. Over those four seasons, he has just one league title, the 2016/17 Bundesliga crown he won with Bayern in runaway fashion, and has exceeded expectations in very limited capacities, instead seeing things turn sour at each job relatively quickly. This season at Napoli, the club sits seventh in the Serie A table, mired in a horrible seven-match winless run that has seen them tumble further from the Champions League places.

Ornstein’s report also touched on the timeline of a potential hire, with the club apparently still deciding on whether to see out the season with interim manager Freddie Ljungberg or make a mid-season appointment. He states that the club “want situation settled asap” but also prefer “right man over quick decision.” He does not identify who the number one target is, but suggests that if that person is available at this point in time, they will make the hire mid-season, otherwise there will be a waiting game.