Atiba Hutchinson

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Report: Whitecaps bid to bring Besiktas’ Hutchinson to town

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Atiba Hutchinson was 19 the last time he played club ball in North America, but that could change this summer.

Reports out of Turkey, shared by Whitecaps’ blog Eighty Six Forever, says Vancouver has bid $5 million for the Canadian international.

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Hutchinson has made 157 appearances for Besiktas since joining the Turkish giants from PSV Eindhoven in 2013. He’s also played for FC Copenhagen, Helsingborgs, and Osters since leaving the Toronto Lynx in 2002.

The defensive midfielder is a five-time Canadian Player of the Year and has 77 caps for the national team. He’s also won hardware at nearly every stop of his career, and was the Danish Superliga Player of the Year in 2009-10.

He’d make quite a dilemma for Carl Robinson, with Tony Tchani and Matias Laba both also in important central midfield roles. Should Hutchinson arrive, it probably spells the end for a 4-1-4-1 but the ‘Caps won’t complain about the problem.

Weekend transfer rumor roundup: Kante, Pjanic, Pogba, (another) Canadian to West Ham

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The transfer rumor mill is churning out tales at an almost unprecedented pace, even for Premier League standards.

That’s not unexpected, as we’ve noted given the wild manager turnover in the past six months. From Chelsea to Man City, Liverpool to Man Utd, players will be changing locations.

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And let’s not forget clubs who’ve kept their manager: Leicester City had been tabbed to hold onto Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante but looks set to lose both (at least according to the mill). Vardy is said to have his release clause triggered by Arsenal, while Kante could wind up at Chelsea. However, Bein Sports reports that the Frenchman has decided to wait until after the Euro.

West Ham United could reunite manager Slaven Bilic with 33-year-old Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson. The 75-times capped Canadian has been in Europe since 2003, and played under Bilic at the player’s current club: Besiktas.

From Sky Sports, quoting his agent:

“Talks are going well but we still need time. West Ham are not, however, alone. There are other clubs that want Atiba.”

Former Toronto FC man and fellow Canadian mid Doneil Henry is also a Hammer.

(Photo by Chris Whiteoak/Getty Images)

Marc Bartra is leaving Barcelona for Borussia Dortmund, but there could be a big name arrival at Camp Nou. Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic could see his buyout clause met by Luis Enrique’s La Liga champions, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Hold on, though, because the Manchester Evening News says Manchester United is keen on the 26-year-old wizard. Pjanic has 68 caps and 11 goals for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has led Serie A in assists in each of the past two seasons.

Pep Guardiola has reportedly removed one player from his wish list and added another. Paul Pogba is reportedly no longer on the mind of the new Manchester City boss, though Arsenal outside back Hector Bellerin. The idea isn’t new, but it sounds just as silly as it did the first time it came up.

The Liverpool Echo quotes Gianluca Di Marzio as saying the Reds are looking into Ajax winger Anwar El Ghazi. He was tipped for a Premier League move around the January window, and the 21-year-old Dutchman scored 11 goals in the Eredivisie this season.

Canada’s Floro: 2015 Gold Cup goal is at least the semifinal

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Canada is still winless since 2012 after picking up another draw on Tuesday, this time 1-1 against Moldova in Austria (Tosaint Ricketts scored).

The Canadian team tied Bulgaria by the same score on Friday, a goal from Atiba Hutchinson ending a 958-minute goal scoring drought.

Yet even before failing to find the win column again, and with a FIFA ranking of just 110, head coach Benito Floro has been very forthright with his expectations for the nation going into its next big competition: next summer’s Gold Cup.

Here’s what Floro said the plans would be for the team once the pair of friendlies concluded:

Adding that from that point forwards the staff, and team will be “focused on the Gold Cup and to prepare the team to qualify for the semi-final and final.”

An ambitious goal, it has to be said. But for a man of Floro’s credentials in the football world, it comes as no surprise that he backs himself to succeed.

Creditable CV or not, for a Men’s National Team that has failed to get out of its group in either of the last two tournaments, and that failed to score a goal from open play in either of those editions of the confederation championship – the guarantee of a final-four finish in 2015 will likely come across to Canadian supporters as quite the statement to be making at this point.

Canada’s last win came in a 3-0 defeat of Cuba in October 2012, so a semifinal would be quite the accomplishment. The nation last found the semis in 2007, and went out in the quarterfinals (2009) before back-to-back group stage failures.

But Floro knows he needs to aim high for a nation that hasn’t seen the World Cup since 1986, when it went 0-3. And if that means raising expectations beyond what may seem reasonable, there are worse things he can do.