It’s been more than a month since Liverpool’s stunning 4-0 (and 4-3 on aggregate) victory over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semifinals, and Luis Suarez apparently still hasn’t gotten over the emotional scarring from his side’s defeat.
“After the elimination in the Champions (League), I wanted to disappear from the world,” Suarez told Fox Sports following Uruguay’s 4-0 rout of ten-man Ecuador in both team’s first match at the Copa America. “They were the worst days of my life and my career along with those from the 2014 World Cup.”
[READ: Man United now say Pogba will stay]
Suarez scored in Uruguay’s win over Ecuador as the Celeste look to win a record 16th Copa America title. It’s actually remarkable that Suarez is playing at all, just six weeks or so shy of major knee surgery to repair his meniscus. Barcelona allowed him to undergo the surgery after the Copa del Rey final and Suarez told reporters Sunday, via ESPN, that he lost 6.6 pounds while training to recover from his injury.
Interestingly, it’s also Suarez’s first appearance at a Copa America in eight years. How can that be? Suarez was serving a 12-month international suspension and thus missed the 2015 Copa America, following his biting incident with Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini that earned him not only a club suspension but also the international one, as Uruguay were bounced from the tournament in Brazil. In 2016, ahead of the Copa America Centenario, Suarez suffered a hamstring injury during Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final. Suarez was included in Uruguay’s 2016 Copa America squad but after two shock defeats, to Mexico and Venezuela, Suarez was left out as Uruguay crashed out of the tournament, his face filled with anguish stuck on the bench watching his team struggle on the pitch without him.
Now, Suarez, if he can put the memory of Anfield on May 7 behind him, Suarez could help a refreshed Uruguay side hit its stride back in Brazil, and potentially challenge for the continental title.
Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.
Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.
[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]
Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.
“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”
Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.
“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”
That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.
Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.
L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.
[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]
Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.
The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.
That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.
Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.
Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.
An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.
[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]
Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.
Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.
“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”
A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.
90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.
Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.
A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.
Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.
Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.
And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).