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Transfer rumor roundup: Maguire on record fee, Rondon to Newcastle

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We begin this post with a doozy.

This is just too much, but that’s the price you pay for English national team center backs in the Premier League.

Manchester United is said to be prepared to offer Leicester City a wild $113 million to bring Harry Maguire to Old Trafford, a bid almost $13 million more than Man City’s reported ceiling (itself an eyebrow-raiser).

Either fee would break the transfer record Liverpool set on Virgil Van Dijk, and just embarrass the $15 million Leicester spent to bring Maguire from Hull City two summers ago.

While the fee is insane, Maguire brings invaluable consistency in his performances and does have plenty of punch in the box on attacking corner kicks.

United was also said to be in on Wilfred Ndidi, and spending over $160 million on two players from the same club sure would say something. Do you think Brendan Rodgers prefers the players or the money?


Speaking of wacky transfer values…

Newcastle’s hopes of landing Salomon Rondon from West Bromwich Albion have been given a boost.

Why? Because Dwight Gayle‘s incredible Championship record has Slaven Bilic valuing the Newcastle man about as much as Rondon’s fee.

Gayle, 28, has twice scored 23 goals in a Championship season, once with Newcastle and once on loan to West Brom last season. He’s scored 7, 6, 3, and 5 goals in four Premier League campaigns.

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Rondon has scored 9, 8, 7, and 11 top flight goals in four seasons between West Brom and Newcastle.

For their values to deliver a straight swap is something Rafa Benitez or whoever’s in charge of Newcastle by the end of summer will love deeply.

Just how different will Manchester United look next year?

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It’s Sunday morning, Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United, and the USWNT doesn’t play its World Cup match until Noon: Let’s deal in theoreticals by starting with a fact.

This season is going to be a major challenge for one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Manchester United boss will seemingly be pulling together a significant amount of new parts into a team which is coming off a sixth place finish in the Premier League, with four of the five teams ahead of him having maintained their managers and most if not all key pieces.

Oh, and he’ll have to fashion this team based out of parts willing to buy into the club’s mystique and ignore the lack of UEFA Champions League play (which is seemingly why Paul Pogba is ready to skip town).

Big paychecks will help, but there’s no way to quickly meld these pieces into one unit. That’s especially true if the biggest piece of their 2018-19 puzzle, Pogba, isn’t in the middle of the park (or pushed a bit forward).

Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Antonio Valencia are out of contract, and Romelu Lukaku has been as mentioned as any striker on the market (He has three goals in four days for Belgium, albeit against Kazakhstan and Scotland).

Pogba’s potential departure puts a lot of weight on Ed Woodward to spend money well (One could make an argument for United needing 60-80 percent of those names).

Subtracting them and adding no one, United’s best XI is something like David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford.

As an aside, the expectations and pressure heaped on Rashford by the “he’s better than Lukaku, play him now centrally” media crowd is going to be a burden if the 21-year-old has to bear the center forward burden alone. My goodness are there Old Trafford subplots in excess or what?

Now, of course, there are seven weeks to go in the transfer window and there’s no guarantee Pogba and Lukaku will leave town. In fact, you may want to place your confidence on Pogba opening the season unhappy but at Old Trafford. Either way, the center of the park is going to get a remarkable makeover, and both center back and goalkeeper will get upgrades, too.

To the fixes:

— United is expected to spend big on Crystal Palace right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sensational last season with the Eagles. They reportedly have sent a $51 million offer to Roy Hodgson‘s squad.

— They’ve been linked with desire for Issa Diop, though West Ham has hopes of $75 million for the center back who made JPW’s Top Ten of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi is “flattered” by links to United, but is focused on Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations line. Should the Red Devils want to buy the 22-year-old, he’s likely in the same price range as the above names.

— Don’t forget Monaco’s Youri Tielemans, who feels like a PL player from his outstanding time at Leicester City last season. He’d merit another $50 million or so.

It’s worth noting that all would get more European football than at their current home with a bump in wages plus an new iconic shirt. Don’t sleep on that.

You’re probably talking a $240-250 million outlay there, should United land them.

Without going further, nor mentioning Swansea’s young Daniel James and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson, you can see a thread here: United could be showing us how a Premier League Best XI without any Top Six players would fare in the top flight.

Of course, United has also been linked with big buys from outside of the Premier League and many of these are older than Ndidi, Diop, Tielemans, and AWB.

But taking those four young players and assuming a focal point/back bone strengthening holding mid would likely join part-time players and full-time leaders Nemanja Matic and Chris Smalling (and maybe Juan Mata).

Now of course there are rumors of experienced leaders Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona and there could be a return from Real, PSG, or Juve. And this whole post looks even worse when United swaps Pogba for Neymar straight-up.

Here’s another question in the myriad facing Solskjaer and Woodward: Is the Europa League a better route to the Champions League than the idea of beating out two of Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool (And noting that Spurs, City, and Liverpool will be heavily expected to finish 1-2-3 in some permutation and Chelsea has a leg up on the field assuming Eden Hazard is their lone significant departure).

Manchester United w/ above transfers (Age when season starts)

De Gea (28)

Wan-Bissaka (21) — Lindelof (25) — Diop (22) — Shaw (24)

Ndidi (22) — Matic (30)

Tielemans (22)

Lingard (26) — Rashford (21) — Martial (23)

What a time to be alive. Rashford better deliver!

Report: Man City to send Zack Steffen on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf

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Zack Steffen is currently on international duty with the United States, but he may have more clarity on his club future heading into next season.

After leaving the Columbus Crew for a move to Manchester City, the 24-year-old goalkeeper will head out on loan to Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf to begin the next European season, according to a report by Paul Tenorio of The Athletic.

[ MORE: US U-20 side stuns World Cup favorites France 3-2 ]

Steffen played his last game for the Crew last week and joined Manchester City in a deal worth $10 million. He was widely expected to spend this season on loan, not yet considered close to challenging for a spot in the Man City first-team squad.

According to Tenorio, Dusseldorf executives are flying to Washington D.C. to meet up with Steffen and his representatives at USMNT camp to finalize the deal. At the Bundesliga club, Steffen will link up with fellow U.S. international Alfredo Morales who joined in 2018 after five seasons at Ingolstadt. He will compete with starting goalkeeper Michael Rensing who amassed nearly 3,000 minutes across all competitions while leading the team to a 10th placed finish in the Bundesliga table.

[ MORE: Preview USMNT vs. Jamaica ]

Steffen was asked after his final Crew game what his expectations are for his club future, and he was non-committal, but said he hopes to earn playing time wherever he lands. “We’re still figuring all that out,” he told reporters after USMNT training at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. “What’s important for young goalkeepers is games, high-level games, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Steffen has instilled himself as the preferred choice for the starting goalkeeper job with the United States national team, with the USMNT looking to transition away from aging goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. He has just eight international caps but looks to be the leading candidate for most high-leverage games in the near future.

Real Madrid signs young Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic

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La Liga giants Real Madrid started what is expected to be a busy summer transfer window with the confirmed signing of 21-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic.

The club confirmed it has signed Jovic to a five-year contract pending a physical. While the terms of the deal were not included in the brief release, it is widely reported that Jovic cost Real Madrid in the vicinity of $67.5 million.

“Luka Jovic is a big loss for us,” said Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic who also confirmed the deal. “His explosiveness and scoring skills have been showcased throughout Europe and we’ve benefited from his goals and contributions over the past two years. But for us it was clear that there was a financial threshold. For Eintracht Frankfurt this is a good and important transfer. We wish Luka only the best for his future. He has the best qualifications for a great career, and we are proud that we were able to support him along the way.”

The Serbian youngster, who owns four international caps to his name, scored 27 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions for Frankfurt last year, including 17 league goals in 32 games plus another 10 in 14 Europa League matches. He announced his presence with a massive five-goal game against Fortuna Dusseldorf in mid-October and was a force in European play as Eintracht Frankfurt reached the semifinals of the competition before falling to eventual winners Chelsea on penalties.

Jovic began his career in the youth system of Red Star Belgrade in his native Serbia and made his way to the senior squad where he spent two years where he made 48 appearances as a teenager. He was sold to Benfica in the winter of 2016 in controversial fashion – Football Leaks exposed dirty third-party dealings involving Cypriot side Apollon Limassol – for a deal of around $8 million.

He then found himself on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt on a two-year loan with the German club who made the move officially permanent this summer by activating an $8 million clause. That allowed Eintracht to enjoy the financial windfall of a massive deal to Real Madrid.

The Real Madrid summer is expected to be a busy one, with Zinedine Zidane leading a rebuild that is also targeting the likes of Eden Hazard and Eder Militao.

Toronto, Vancouver draw on pair of late goals

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A late May Canadian clash finished all even as Toronto and Vancouver drew 1-1 on a pair of late goals after a mostly wasteful performance on both ends.

Toronto had the better first half, but things finished scoreless at the break after Terrance Boyd fired straight at Maxime Crepeau in the visitors’ best chance just before the halftime whistle, while Ali Adnan fired just over from distance. In the second half, the story continued as Boyd whiffed all alone in front of net in the 70th minute and Jozy Altidore‘s follow-up was saved at the near post.

Finally, the breakthrough came with six minutes to go in what appeared to be a winning moment. Drew Moor hauled down substitute Yordy Reyna blatantly in the area, and Fredy Montero delivered the 84th minute opener from the spot. The goal came on Vancouver’s first and only shot on target throughout the match, managing to put just one of its eight efforts on frame.

Unfortunately for the hosts, that lead would not last as Toronto equalized in the final minute of regulation. Nick DeLeon fired in to Altidore at the near post, and the USMNT striker did enough to put Crepeau off and allow DeLeon’s ball to sneak through into the back of the net. It was DeLeon’s goal as Altidore was unable to get a touch, but the ball found its way through anyways.

The draw left the two sides with a disappointing haul, as Toronto lept Chicago into a playoff position but could not find its way past NYCFC into sixth. Vancouver, meanwhile, was unable to climb into the playoff spots, instead stuck in eighth behind FC Dallas via tiebreaker and a point back of Real Salt Lake.