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Transfer Gossip: Pep scouts de Ligt, Lewandowski to Chelsea?

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Just days after winning his first Premier League title, Pep Guardiola is already on the road, scouting for new signings.

One of these players that Manchester City is reportedly scouting – likely along with many European clubs – is Ajax’s young defensive wiz Matthijs de Ligt. Just 18-years old, de Ligt finished his second full season in the Ajax first team, playing 39 games across all competitions and scoring three goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The youngster was even fast-tracked into the Netherlands National Team, starved of quality defenders as they are, but he made some crucial errors that led to the Oranje missing the World Cup and a second-straight tournament.

Guardiola is eying de Ligt as the eventual replacement for Vincent Kompany, but there’s a chance Guardiola could wait to sign him with Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones ahead of de Ligt in the pecking order. However, considering how well Davinson Sanchez has done in his time in England this season, de Ligt could in theory have a similar performance, assuming he adjusts physically.

Either way, should de Ligt join Man City, they’ll have two of the brightest young defenders in European football.

Here’s a look at some other transfer rumors across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.

NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira “very close” to Nice contract

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Patrick Vieira’s tenure in Major League Soccer has brought about significant improvement in his New York City FC side, but his current club will have to forge its progress without the Frenchman.

[ MORE: Man City defender Vincent Kompany talks with PST ]

Pro Soccer Talk can confirm reports out of France that the former Arsenal midfielder is in contact with Ligue 1 side Nice to become the club’s next manager, however, Vieira hasn’t finalized a deal yet.

This story was first reported by French outlet L’Equipe on Sunday morning.

PST has learned through several sources that Vieira is “very close” to signing with the eighth-place French side from 2017/18, and a deal is expected to be completed within the coming days despite Vieira’s commitment to NYCFC.


(Update) Nice representatives, including managing director Julien Fournier, are currently in ongoing negotiations with Vieira and his camp, which flew to France on Monday.

A source familiar with the contract discussions told PST that a deal by the end of the week is “very possible,” although the NYCFC manager is expected back in New York for the team’s training on Tuesday.

Additionally, PST has been able to confirm reports that Nice is negotiating a two-year deal with the former France international.

City Football Group, in conjunction with NYCFC, have resisted allowing their manager to leave as best as possible, however, another source says “a move away from Yankee Stadium is almost inevitable.”

Vieira is still viewed as the French side’s number one managerial target, after former coach Lucien Favre was let go by the club last week. Favre has taken the vacant Borussia Dortmund job.


Vieira’s contract with NYCFC runs through the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.

Another source close to the situation told PST that Vieira will likely take over his new post prior to the start of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, which begins on June 14, pending finalization of a deal with Nice.

Meanwhile, Nantes — who recently parted ways with manager Claudio Ranieri — has also had interest in Vieira’s services. Nantes finished one spot behind Nice in the final Ligue 1 table this season.

The French transfer window doesn’t open until June 1, despite the Premier League’s recent shift to a May 17 opening and August 9 close — prior to the opening kick off of the season.

Other top European leagues, including La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A have all continued their June 1 start dates for the summer transfer window — which runs until the final day of August.

Favre has already found a new destination with Borussia Dortmund, who will once again be involved in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Nice features a number of top-rated players at the moment, including notable transfer targets Mario Balotelli, Jean-Michael Seri and on-loan defender Marlon Santos (Barcelona).

Vieira joined NYCFC in 2016, after previously being involved in parent club Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad (EDS) as a coach.

He played professionally from 1994 to 2011, including a lengthy stint internationally for France, which featured a 1998 World Cup win and runner up in 2006 to Italy.

Since taking over in the Bronx, NYCFC has become one of MLS’ elite sides, and currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference and MLS table on 24 points through 12 matches.

The 41-year-old Frenchman recently received some interest from Arsenal over the London side’s vacant managerial position left by Arsene Wenger, however, Vieira suggested that the approach from the Gunners was a mere gesture of courtesy.

Vieira has previously been linked to a number of European jobs, including Saint Etienne and Southampton, neither of which came to fruition.

Chelsea 1-0 Man United: Conte’s boys earn FA Cup triumph

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Last season’s Premier League champions looked very far from that level of play in 2017/18, but Antonio Conte‘s men rallied on Saturday to pick up a piece of major silverware.

[ MORE: Vincent Kompany talks third PL title, more with PST ]

Chelsea topped Manchester United, 1-0, in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, behind Eden Hazard‘s first-half penalty kick.

The victory for the Blues marks the club’s eighth FA Cup triumph, which is tied for third all-time in England with Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea only trails Arsenal (13) and United (12).

Hazard proved to be Chelsea’s biggest threat from the opening kick off, and it was the Belgium international that got the Blues on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot.

The 27-year-old did well to glide through the United defense prior to the goal, forcing Phil Jones to drag down Hazard in the penalty area, while earning himself a yellow card in the process.

United’s pressure mounted through the latter stages, but even Paul Pogba‘s free header with seven minutes remaining couldn’t find its way on frame.

Alexis Sanchez thought he had an equalizer in the 63rd minute, but the Chilean was ruled offside after Jones’ saved header found the United attacker just a yard from goal.

The Red Devils came out with a fury in the second half, with Marcus Rashford coming close early after the halftime break with a powerful, dipping effort that tested goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

United struggled mightily to get anything going in the opening stanza, however, Pogba’s tremendous run down the center of the park nearly gave the Red Devils a late equalizer on the stroke of halftime.

Referee Michael Oliver had his first big decision to make at a quarter of an hour, after Nemanja Matic collided with Tiemoue Bakayoko inside the United area.

However, the head official opted to allow play to go, which appeared to be the proper decision, as Bakayoko’s feet got tangled despite the encounter with Matic.

The Blues started well, and nearly found an early break in the ninth minute when Hazard’s close-range blast tested David De Gea at the near post.

LIVE: Chelsea faces Man United in FA Cup final

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Chelsea and Manchester United will face off at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (12:15 p.m. ET) as the each club looks to pick up its first piece of silverware in 2017/18.

[ MORE: PST chats with Man City captain Vincent Kompany ]

The two sides enter the weekend having each won against one another in the Premier League this season.

[ LIVE: FA Cup Final updates ]

United earned a 2-1 win over the Blues in their February encounter at Old Trafford, while Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea picked up a 1-0 victory earlier in the season at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian manager spoke ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup finale, stating that he doesn’t believe his job security should rely on winning the competition, however, it remains to be seen what Conte’s future at Chelsea holds.


Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill (c), Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso, Hazard, Giroud. Subs: Caballero, Zappacosta, Chalobah, Barkley, Pedro, Willian, Morata.

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Young, Matic, Ander Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Alexis, Rashford. Subs: Romero, Bailly, Darmian, Mata, McTominay, Lukaku, Martial.