2015 International Champions Cup

Where in the world is Angel Di Maria? Man United boss Louis van Gaal has no idea

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Imagine purchasing a car that cost you $90 million in August of one year, then 12 short months later losing tracked of where you parked said car and not having a single clue where in the world it might be.

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

That’s (kind of) the situation Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal finds himself in these days, only instead of a car, it’s an Argentine winger by the name of Angel Di Maria that the second-year Man United boss can’t seem to find.

As Di Maria’s protracted transfer saga continues to drag on, Van Gaal readily admitted on Wednesday that he hasn’t the faintest idea where Di Maria currently is. After competing for Argentina at the 2015 Copa America, Di Maria was scheduled for an extended break and a late arrival to United’s preseason preparations in the United States, but ongoing transfer negotiations with Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain have apparently caused Di Maria to go AWOL.

[ MORE: All of PST’s team-by-team PL season previews | Man United | Liverpool | Arsenal | Chelsea ]

When asked about Di Maria’s whereabouts, Van Gaal had the following to say, from the Telegraph:

“You can ask that every week, but it is the same answer. Maybe you know? I don’t know that either.”

Coincidentally, the two sides faced one another Wednesday night in their final International Champions Cup game. Following the game, PSG manager Laurent Blanc seemed quite hopeful that negotiations were reaching the latter stages and an agreement would soon be struck. Van Gaal, however, was bullishly mum on the situation.

Blanc: “You know negotiations are in tandem. But as United and Paris Saint Germain are both big clubs, that can be difficult. But we feel we are close to the end.”

Van Gaal: “I don’t know because I’m not the same manager as Laurent Blanc. I don’t want to answer these questions. With Manchester United, we shall announce something when it is already done and not when it isn’t done, because it’s a process.

“I have said that many times. We will have to wait and see and I don’t want to interfere.”

In summation, Di Maria is fed up with Man United; Van Gaal has no idea where his club’s $90 million investment has run off to; Blanc, thanks to his oil-rich employers, is going to be the one human being out of seven-plus billion to benefit most from the whole ordeal.

The soccer transfer market is a strange, crazy place.

Chelsea 2-2 Barcelona: Good-looking goals to spare in Maryland (video)

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Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez scored second half goals for Barcelona, but Gary Cahill’s late header combined with a brilliant opening goal from Eden Hazard to force penalty kicks between Chelsea and Barca in International Champions Cup action on Tuesday at FedEx Field in Landover.

In the shootout, Thibaut Courtois stopped Gerard Pique and watched Alen Halilovic’s panenka go off the crossbar, while Victor Moses, Radamel Falcao, Ramires and Loic Remy scored to lift the Blues to a 4-2 win.

Close to 80,000 saw Barcelona move to 1-2 in three ICC matches. Barca finishes off its tourney vs. Fiorentina in Florence on Aug. 2.

For Chelsea, the Premier League champions also have a shootout win over Paris Saint-Germain and a loss to New York Red Bulls. They’ll look for a regulation win when they host Fiorentina on Aug. 5 at Stamford Bridge.

[ MEXICO: Herrera fired | What next? ]

Kurt Zouma came very close to putting Chelsea ahead on an arrow of a free kick from Cesc Fabregas, but his bouncing header was pushed off the bar by a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Moments later, on a free kick a bit closer and from the left, Cahill nodded a Fabregas offering over the bar.

Chelsea stayed on the front foot, and Oscar forced ter Stegen into another prone save before Hazard broke through in the 10th minute. The reigning PL player of the year busted through the middle of the 18 on a dribble and beat Rakitic before besting two more defenders and ter Stegen. 1-0 Chelsea.

Following a few more nervy moments, Barca started to build momentum. That’s when the Blues started to attack on the counter, and Diego Costa looked especially dangerous.

Costa was fouled again, leading to another dangerous free kick that Oscar put off the crossbar in the 26th minute. It was cleared out for a corner which came to nothing.

source: Getty Images
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard celebrates with Kenedy. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Courtois played the foil in the 31st minute, as Luis Suarez’s first-touch shot was parried by the Chelsea keeper, who then made a strong stop on Sandro moments later.

A clear breakaway for Costa saw the Spanish forward miss a shot wide of the far post from 10 yards away.

Suarez was a threat for Barcelona in the absence of Neymar, Messi and Javier Mascherano, and started a chance that could’ve ended with an Ivan Rakitic goal in the 39th minute.

Rakitic, however, mishit the ball well wide of the goal. Barcelona found its equalizer through Suarez in the 52nd minute. Cesar Azpilicueta butchered a headed clearance, putting it on a platter for Suarez. The Uruguayan froze Courtois and chipped him. Zouma tried to clear it off the line to no avail.

Sandro Ramirez boosted Barca to its first lead of the contest. After a host of subs left both teams adapting to the match, Sandro moved into the 18 from the right before launching a curling ball over John Terry and around a diving Courtois. 2-1, 66′.

But Cahill bloodied his nose and evened the score when he rose above the hands of Jordi Masip to head home. He subbed off for oft-loaned Nathaniel Chalobah right after scoring the equalizer.

ICC preview: Barcelona, Man United, Chelsea, PSG wrap up USA tours this week

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The 2015 International Champions Cup wraps up this week, as do the preseason tours of a number of Premier League clubs currently taking place here in the United States.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL season previews ]

A look at this week’s ICC action:

Chelsea vs. Barcelona

It’ll be the reigning Premier League champions taking on the reigning UEFA Champions League and La Liga champions Tuesday night at FedEx Field just outside the nation’s capital.

Thus far, Chelsea have been defeated, 4-2, by the New York Red Bulls and knocked off reigning Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, 1-1 (6-5 on PKs), on their US tour. Meanwhile, Barcelona began their American excursion with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy, followed by a defeat at the hands of Manchester United, 3-1, over the weekend.

The Blaugrana are still without attacking superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar, as well midfielder/defender Javier Mascherano and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, all of whom are enjoying a belated offseason period following the 2015 Copa America. The Blues, who this hope to repeat as Premier League champions under Jose Mourinho, are carrying a full first-team squad which includes Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao, among others.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Man United sign Romero | Drogba to Montreal ]

Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain

24 hours after Chelsea and Barca complete their US tours, Premier League title hopefuls Manchester United will do the same when they square off against Paris Saint-Germain at Solider Field in Chicago, Ill.

To this point, Man United can claim victories over Club America (1-0) and the San Jose Earthquakes (3-1) to go along with the aforementioned takedown of Barcelona. At the same time, PSG have managed to down Benfica (3-2) and Fiorentina (4-2) before losing to Chelsea on penalties over the weekend.

The Red Devils have been arguably the most impressive Premier League side in the ICC this year, though manager Louis van Gaal insists they’ve a long way to go before they can be considered serious title contenders. As for PSG, another Ligue 1 title (2015-16 would be their fourth consecutive) seems a given for the oil-rich Parisian side, who hope to reach the semifinals and beyond of the Champions League after bowing out in the quarterfinals each of the last three seasons.

This week’s full ICC schedule

Chelsea vs. Barcelona (Tue., 8 pm ET, FedEx Field, Landover, MD)
Benfica vs. Club America (Tue., 9 pm ET, Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico)
Man United vs. PSG (Wed., 8 pm ET, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
Barcelona vs. Fiorentina (Sun., 1 pm ET, Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy)

ICC roundup: Manchester United, Chelsea top Champions League foes Barcelona, PSG (video)

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A complete roundup of Saturday’s action in the 2015 International Champions Cup (ICC), from China, to North Carolina, to California:

Manchester United 3-1 Barcelona

The defending European champions — sans Lionel Messi and Neymar, granted — fell to last’s year’s fourth-place finishers from the Premier League, Manchester United, 3-1, at Levi’s Stadium in Northern California on Saturday.

Wayne Rooney put the Red Devils on the board first (8th minute) and 22-year-old prospect Jesse Lingard (65th) doubled the lead after mass substitutions in the second half. Rafinha pulled the reigning La Liga champions to within a goal in the 90th minute, but Adnan Januzaj restored the two-goal lead moments later.

Chelsea 1-1 (6-5 PKs) Paris Saint-Germain

PST’s very own Kyle Bonn was in the house for Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, in what would be the day’s final ICC clash.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Victor Moses provided the goals during regular time, before the reigning Premier League champions came out victorious, 6-5, in a seven-round penalty shootout. Thibaut Courtois converted the game-winning penalty four rounds before the typical goalkeeper’s round of a shootout.

[ CHELSEA-PSG: Three things we learned | Blanc mum on Di Maria | Mourinho in mid-season form ]

AC Milan 1-0 Inter Milan

Goals — especially those scored by center backs — don’t come much more beautiful than the one scored by Philippe Mexes in Beijing, China, on Saturday.

When the corner kick overflew its intended target — the entire penalty area — the Frenchman was waiting — stalking — at the top of the box. It’s a finish that Zlatan would be proud of, no doubt.

Jose Mourinho already in midseason form as Chelsea gears up for new campaign

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Chelsea looked somewhat sluggish for the second straight friendly as players return to the first-team squad and look to get their bodies and minds ready for the upcoming Premier League season.

One man who doesn’t need any acclimating is manager Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese boss was lively as ever following the match, showing he’s always ready for football.

When asked what PSG did to keep Chelsea under control in the opening 45 minutes, Mourinho blamed their lack of matches for being a step behind, saying the French champions had four preseason friendlies to get ready whereas Chelsea were just beginning their preparations. The very next question asked Mourinho about Radamel Falcao, and the Blues boss praised his new signing who came on for the last 20 minutes, saying he had fresh legs that helped him be influential. Those two things seem to contradict each other, Mr. Mourinho…

He was asked about his experiences so far in the United States, and while he agreed this country is growing very quickly as a soccer nation, he went about his answer by referencing how many people recognize him out in public. “I come here just about every year for the past 11 years in preseason. 10 years ago when my players and I walked down the streets, it was paradise. Now, it’s not paradise anymore.”

Finally, a British journalist began a question by asking Mourinho about some “interesting challenges” that Diego Costa – known for his physical play – made, including one in the very first minute when he bowled over Gregory Van Der Wiel. The 52-year-old cut off the poor questioner by angrily turning the prompt on its head, “It wasn’t Diego, it was [PSG winger Serge] Aurier who made the…what do you call them? ‘Interesting challenges?’ Ask me about Aurier and I’ll answer.” He forced the journalist to ask him about Aurier instead of Costa, before finally answering the question with, “The French player played the match today like it was not a friendly but a big game for him. But that’s ok because I understand that this is football.”

Chelsea may still be working towards full fitness and game readiness, but one thing is for certain, its ace in the hole is already in top form, and that spells doom for the rest of England’s top flight.