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Fellaini completes move to China’s Shandong Luneng

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Marouane Fellaini is the latest big name to head to the Chinese Super League.

Manchester United confirmed Friday that Fellaini, 31, had left the club and has joined Shandong Luneng Taishan FC.

It has been reported that United received a transfer fee of $13 million for Fellaini, who will reportedly earn $12.3 million per year after tax in China.

The former Everton star joined United in the summer of 2013 and was the first purchase of former United boss David Moyes.

During his time at Old Trafford he won the FA Cup, Europa League, Community Shield and League Cup, but Fellaini’s displays divided opinion and he was often used as a scapegoat in the post-Ferguson era.

He made 177 appearances and scored 22 goals in all competitions during his five-and-a-half-year stay at United.

Jose Mourinho handed Fellaini a new contract last summer and used the Belgian midfielder time and time again in big games to scrap and dig deep. But overall, his time at United has to be deemed as a failure.

Fellaini’s ability to arrive late in the box and finish off chances at Everton was the main reason United bought him, but too often he was deployed either as an emergency striker late in games (to be fair, he delivered some key goals in that role) or in a deeper central midfield role which didn’t suit his skillset.

He joins Italian striker Graziano Pelle at Shandong Luneng as the Jinan team finished third in the CSL in the 2018 season and are in the playoff round of the AFC Champions League.

Fellaini joins fellow Belgium star Mousa Dembele in the CSL, as he swapped the Premier League and Tottenham for Guangzhou R&F in January.

Report: Javier Hernandez to Valencia

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According to Sky Sports in Italy, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will leave West Ham for Valencia during the January transfer window.

Sky in Italy say that Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer has agreed personal terms with La Liga side Valencia, although there is no mention whether the move is a loan or permanent deal.

Due to Michy Batshuayi’s loan move from Chelsea being cut short, Valencia are looking for a new striker this window but other reports claimed that the Hammers do not want Hernandez to leave.

Hernandez, 30, has featured sparingly for the Hammers this season under Manuel Pellegrini (five goals in 16 games in all competitions) who has preferred Marko Arnautovic up top, while the return to fitness of Andy Carroll has increased competion for minutes for the Mexico legend.

That said, with Arnautovic linked with a move to China, letting Hernandez leave now would be strange timing.

Any move could point to West Ham bringing in significant reinforcements at striker in January, as Hernandez is one of their highest earners. They’ve been linked with an audacious move for Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson.

Chicharito signed for West Ham in the summer of 2017 and has since played for three managers at the London Stadium: Slaven Bilic, David Moyes and now Pellegrini.

His modest return of 13 goals in 49 outings in all competitions is mostly down to his appearances often coming from the bench and injuries, as Chicharito has never had a good run of games for the east London club.

A move to Valencia would make sense. They’re still one of the top clubs in La Liga and although there are 10 points off the top four this season, a top six finish is still very achievable.

Hernandez last played in La Liga for Real Madrid in 2014-15, as he scored seven goals in 23 outings while on loan from Manchester United.

Why Solskjaer getting the Man United job makes sense

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Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now the favorite to land the Manchester United job on a permanent basis?

That is the question circling the soccer world Monday morning, as a huge 1-0 victory at Tottenham saw the Norwegian coach became the first-ever United manager to win their first six games on the trot. Of course, David De Gea‘s brilliance was the main reason United beat Spurs, but it was still a huge moment as Solskjaer’s made a huge statement in his biggest test yet as a manager.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ] 

Solskjaer’s caretaker tag will see him in charge of United at least until the end of the 2018-19 campaign, and because he’s technically on loan from Norwegian top-flight club Molde this is a bit complicated.

There’s no doubt the calls for him to get the job are growing after beating Mauricio Pochettino Spurs, even though it is way too early to evaluate how he can progress this United team long-term.

But it makes sense on many levels.

[ MORE: Solskjaer, Pochettino respond to United links ]

He is getting the best out of the players at his disposal. The fans adore him and that will buy him time to turn things around. His connection with the club as a former legendary striker instantly gains him respect and leverage behind-the-scenes at Old Trafford. His tactical ability, along with assistant coaches Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick, was tested at Spurs and his first half plan was magnificent.

When you think about it, hiring Solskjaer to a long-term deal at United does make a lot of sense. He isn’t a player who has just retired and been thrown in at the deep end. He has grafted with United’s reserve teams, then at Molde, then had a tough spell at Cardiff City to toughen him up and is back at Molde doing well in Norway before this incredible opportunity arose.

For United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward Ole would be a much cheaper option instead of paying Spurs compensation for Pochettino, and then paying the Argentine coach huge wages.

But United owe it to their fans, to their players and Solskjaer to take their time and wait until the end of the season.

If Solskjaer has United in the top four, progressing deep in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and the FA Cup, then he has to be the favorite to land this job.

United have tried everything since Sir Alex Ferguson left. The pragmatic approach in David Moyes. The two coaching behemoths of Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. None of them worked out.

Solskjaer is someone who has been handed a chance to impress and even though Pochettino should still be the leading candidate due to the way he transforms the entire philosophy of clubs on and off the pitch, the current man in charge of United has had the perfect start to life in the dugout at Old Trafford.

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest choice to make, and Solskjaer’s case as the best man for the job is growing week by week.

West Ham block Arnautovic exit

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West Ham United and Marko Arnautovic are embroiled in a very public and rather ugly transfer battle.

After a bid of over $45 million was reportedly tabled by an unnamed Chinese Super League club Wednesday (believed to be reigning CSL champs Shanghai SIPG) for West Ham’s star striker, Arnautovic’s agent and brother has said he wants to leave the Hammers.

Danijel Arnautovic released the following statement to talkSPORT in the UK.

“West Ham bought Marko for peanuts. They paid £20million for him, which is nothing in the current market. They bought him to keep them in the Premier League last season and he did that. He took every award at the club; best player, signing of the season and the players’ award. Now West Ham have a fantastic offer. It is close to double what they paid for him. He wants to go to a new market and challenge for titles. This is what he wants. It is his great desire that West Ham accept the offer from China.”

The Hammers responded to the claims with this brief, and rather curt, statement:

Your move, Marko…

Arnautovic, 29, is contracted to West Ham until the summer of 2022 and if the Hammers do not want to sell him then this is a very tough situation to sort out. It is almost a case of deja vu for the Hammers when you think about the situation they had with Dimitri Payet just over two years ago.

Reports suggest Arnautovic will double his wages to $255,000 per week if he moves to China and given his rather lavish lifestyle off the pitch, that extra cash will come in handy in the long run…

The Austrian has been West Ham’s best player by a country mile since joining from Stoke in the summer of 2017, scoring 18 goals in 46 Premier League games and almost single-handedly keeping them in the PL last season. He played a starring role as a lone striker under David Moyes in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign and despite a few injuries he has continued that form into this season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Arnautovic has a reputation as a trouble maker and a volatile character when things aren’t going his way and it will be intriguing to see how his performances on the pitch play out, despite his brother going on to say “he will give 100 per cent for West Ham” as long as he is at the club. He added that he hopes the Hammers fans understand that “things move on” in sport, but if he wants the supporters to believe that Arnautovic’s main motive for this move is to challenge for titles then he will lose plenty of respect from West Ham’s fans right away.

Their leading goalscorer this season reacted rather angrily towards Pellegrini after being subbed off during West Ham’s 2-0 FA Cup third round win against Birmingham City last weekend (he scored the opener) and the former Inter Milan star was perhaps preempting this possible January exit with his actions.

All of this comes just when it looked like West Ham had figured things out with their squad as Pellegrini had bought wisely in defense this summer, locked Declan Rice down to a new long-term deal and club-record signing Felipe Anderson was purring in support of Arnautovic in attack.

Many will simply say: ‘this is what we warned you about when you signed Arnautovic.’

PST Roundtable: 2018 in Review

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ProSoccerTalk continues its Best of 2018 by taking our staff on a trip down (around) memory lane with the final Roundtable of the calendar year (unless Pele unretires between now and Midnight ET).

[ MORE: Best of 2018 ]


1) You can only save one Premier League memory from 2018. What do you choose?

Joe Prince-Wright: I am going with Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Man City at Anfield in January 2018. What a game between two teams going at it and playing very different ways to the highest possible level. It was a precursor for some epic Champions League battles between Liverpool and Man City.

Nicholas Mendola: At the risk of cloying this space, Arsene Wenger‘s “send off series” was special, especially when Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho came together to salute the long time Arsenal boss at Old Trafford. The final matches in charge of the Gunners was an emotional and refreshing storyline for both Arsenal and those who like to see an under-fire legend get his just desserts.

Kyle Bonn: Has to be Manchester City’s dominance and Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut. I absolutely loved watching that team, especially given how much of a mess it was when Pep first got there. He turned around so many players, namely John Stones and Raheem Sterling, and that’s always something special.

Dan Karell: It was from last January but it’s got to be Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City. Man City wrapped up the title early and recorded a record amount of goals and points, but this was arguably the game of the season. Terrific action for all 90 minutes.

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

2) Remember the World Cup? That was just this summer! What was your favorite part of the tournament? How about the USMNT’s efforts in it?

Joe Prince-Wright: I obviously enjoyed England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals and I honestly believe they would have matched up very well against France and would have had a great chance of winning it all. The way Gareth Southgate’s young side made an entire nation believe again and changed the mood around the Three Lions completely was truly remarkable to see. Also, LOL about the USMNT. What a debacle that should never be repeated. Simple.

Nicholas Mendola: Not the Lionel Messi sub plot, as even his fine performances couldn’t overcome the hype about whether it was enough for his legacy. Also, not Serbia getting the short end of the officiating stick on multiple occasions.

There were some great matches! The final was special, as was France 4-3 Argentina in the Round of 16. But Belgium and Japan turning a 0-0 halftime into a 2-0 Japanese lead en route to a 3-2 Belgium win, with Nacer Chadli scoring in stoppage? Holy smoke what a game.

Kyle Bonn: I think my favorite part of the tournament was appreciating the parity that came along with it. Germany bombed out in the group stages, Argentina looked pedestrian, and Spain looked fallible, all while Croatia built a juggernaut, Peru looked competitive, and Sweden won a group. This was the world’s World Cup and that was fascinating.

Also, the USMNT didn’t lose a single game all tournament, so I’ll give them an A-

Dan Karell: Ugh, stop! I think England’s run to the semifinals was a lot of fun, along with Croatia’s constant wins in penalty kick shootouts and them overcoming the odds again and again. Ultimately, France was too talented to be stopped, and Didier Deschamps did a masterful job keeping them tight defensively and letting his side’s speed and counter-attacking ability steal the show.

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

3) Which player do you hold in higher esteem than you did entering 2018? Who’s much lower?

Joe Prince-Wright: David Silva. I always knew he was good. But I didn’t quite appreciate how good. He is essential to Pep Guardiola’s style and will probably go down as one of City’s best-ever players, if not the best.

Lower… I am going with Daniel Sturridge. Perhaps a little harsh, but I thought he would be able to work his way into this Liverpool attack as the first back-up. He hasn’t achieved that at all.

Nicholas Mendola: I knew Christian Pulisic was good before Jan. 1, 2018, but how much of a factor he’s become in every match is beyond compare on an American level. There’s Clint Dempsey in 2011-12 at Fulham for the gold standard of Americans Abroad, and the question of whether he matches it, improves on it, or does it again and again.

As for lower, and I know this is heavy territory, but pretty much the way everyone associated with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus dealt with the rape accusations against him. Allegations are allegations until proven true, but showing a modicum of class to the victim (and all victims) would’ve been nice.

Kyle Bonn: If this is possible…Mohamed Salah. I always love seeing players go from one-hit wonder to actually good player, and while only the ultimate of cynics believe the Liverpool star would ultimately fade as just a flash in the pan, I enjoyed seeing it proven on the field.

Less, I have to go with Alvaro Morata. I thought he would be a slam dunk at Chelsea, and his disastrous tenure has led to rumors of a quick exit. I am quite disappointed in his performances there and his inability to find the scoresheet despite a wealth of talent around him. It’s a shame, because he showed so much promise at Real Madrid, and I hope he finds success either with a second chance at Chelsea or someone else who gives him an opportunity after Stamford Bridge.

Dan Karell: Anthony Martial. His second half of 2018 has been tremendous compared to his previous 18 months in Manchester, which all led to him missing out on the World Cup. A player who’s stock has dropped for me is his teammate, Alexis Sanchez. After joining Man United in January. Sanchez has been invisible this season and it’s unclear if Man United will ever recoup its investment in Sanchez.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

4) Who is the soccer world’s person of 2018?

Joe Prince-Wright: Luka Modric. What he managed to achieve with both Real Madrid and Croatia, plus win multiple top awards as the best player on the planet, was exceptional. The Croatian midfielder was a total team player and made his teammates better due to his hard work, vision and delivering in clutch moments. His role to lead Croatia to the World Cup final was reminiscent of Diego Maradona and Pele leading their respective nations to glory in the past. Modric was Croatia’s talisman as they just came up short by losing to France in the final.

Nicholas Mendola: Kylian Mbappe. At the age of 20, with club turmoil caused by Neymar and Edinson Cavani and the pressure of an entire country, Mbappe led France to a World Cup title and Paris Saint-Germain to plenty of wins. But even better than that is the example he sets at such a young age, donating his World Cup winnings to charity and admitting that footballers are paid an “indecent” wage.

Kyle Bonn: Great – and tough – question. So many good options. Jurgen Klopp has to be my choice though, as he’s finally seeing his Liverpool project come to fruition. The Reds made the 2018 Champions League final and have shaken their inability to perform against bottom sides in Premier League play. It’s always fun to see a years-long project not only committed to, but completed. The Reds are a scary team to play for anyone in the world, and that’s down to the revolutionary tactics and recruitment of Jurgen Klopp.

Dan Karell: If it’s a manager, it’s got to be a tie between Didier Deschamps and Pep Guardiola for everything they succeeded. Perhaps it’s even Zinedine Zidane, who took the bold move to resign as Real Madrid manager after a third-successive Champions League title.

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

5) What topic are you extremely happy to leave in 2018: the USMNT coaching search, Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, or a third option?

Joe Prince-Wright: USMNT coaching search definitely. Quite why that took so long was outrageous. Berhalter could have been appointed months sooner than he was to start building the identity of the team. That would have been a smarter move. Southampton’s 2018 was also woeful, so I am happy to leave that there as the squad they have should be pushing for a top 10 finish, not battling against relegation for a second-straight season. I actually think that history will be kind to Jose Mourinho’s reign at Manchester United, but it just became so boring and predictable towards the end and we have already seen the gloom has lifted at Old Trafford. It worked out well for everyone, even Mourinho.

Nicholas Mendola: The USMNT coaching search. At some point we were speculating on David Moyes taking the job because he was on the train to a friendly. Cool. Real cool.

Kyle Bonn: I was happy to see the USMNT coaching search finally come to an end, but disappointed in the result. I was glad to see Jose Mourinho leave Manchester United for the health of the club, but not for those of us covering the team (what a ride!). Honestly, I’m happiest to see the World Cup cycle leave, because the USMNT gets to start from scratch looking forward to 2022. While many have predictions and reservations about the US National Team at this juncture, it will be for the team to prove on the field, and Gregg Berhalter has a chance to lead an emotional redemption for the group.

Dan Karell: Jose Mourinho for sure. The constant moaning to the media, throwing players under the bus, and holding his players back got really old, really fast. Yes, the opposition in the last couple of games isn’t as good, but you can see that the Man United players have the shackles removed and are starting to look as if they enjoy their profession again.

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

6) Free skate: Any other thoughts about 2018?

Joe Prince-Wright: Watching Man City’s record breaking season up close was amazing. They made history and have set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the Premier League.

It was a reflective year for many Premier League teams who took steps towards long-term progression. Liverpool finally bought world-class defensive players, Man United sacked their manager, Arsene Wenger left Arsenal and Chelsea moved on with an exciting tactical project. Man City have leveled off a little but are still incredible to watch, while Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham are still defying the odds and will actually move into their new stadium soon. The top six have been fascinating to watch in 2018, and given four of them are in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it seems like English soccer has had a real resurgence on the European stage too.

Nicholas Mendola: I don’t want to be a downer and I know Leicester City happened just a few years ago, but it seems like it’s the end of non-giants making charges toward the Top Four. It’s not Liverpool’s fault for joining Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Man City in spending ungodly amounts of dough. It’s not just about the money, because those arguments are also annoying and look at Everton and West Ham, but it is frustrating.

Kyle Bonn: 2018 was a great year of soccer, but the failures of the USMNT certainly bring it down from our perspective. There needs to be growth there moving forward, or it will be tough to build on the growing fanbase in this country.

Dan Karell: Regarding the U.S. men’s national team, it was an empty year that should have had a World Cup appearance to go with it. We saw a lot of new players make their debuts and other youngsters receive more minutes, but the team felt like the Israelites wandering for 40 years searching for the Land of Israel, with no direction. Hopefully now, with Gregg Berhalter (Moses?) in charge, the USMNT can find the promised land.

Another note: Atlanta United’s incredible success can’t go unnoted. To create a title-winning team in two years is incredible difficult, and the organization has raised the bar for MLS even higher. 2018 was a huge step for the league. Let’s see what 2019 brings.
(AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)