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Edwin van der Sar says Ajax defender de Ligt will move to England or Spain

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Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar has spoken after the Dutch club’s shocking late defeat to Tottenham in the Champions League semifinals, and said he believes the end is near for 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt at his boyhood club.

According to the Ajax chief executive, de Ligt is most likely to move to a big club in Spain or England. Speaking to Sky Sports Italia as quoted by Goal.com, van der Sar said, “I think these will be De Ligt’s final games with Ajax, but I hope he goes out on a high. He’s been here since he was a child and will end up at a big club. I think he’ll go to England or Spain.”

[ MORE: Paying tribute to a memorable Ajax run ]

De Ligt has set all kinds of marks at his young age, adding to his value this summer. He is the youngest ever in Ajax history to reach 100 appearances for the club, a crowning achievement given Ajax’s history as a developer of young talent. He is the club’s youngest-ever captain, and the first defender ever to win the Golden Boy award for Europe’s best player under 21 years old.

The 19-year-old has been linked to the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Juventus over the past month or two, and his future remains wide open. The team that seems to make the most sense would be Barcelona, where his current Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong is already confirmed to be headed at the end of the season. The Barcelona back line is in serious flux, with 32-year-old Gerard Pique seemingly starting to decline, while Samuel Umtiti struggled with injuries and Clement Lenglet failed to consistently perform.

Manchester City is always a player for top talent with the money it possesses, and they could look to de Ligt to replace an aging Vincent Kompany, but he may not want to compete with fellow youngsters in John Stones and Aymeric Laporte for playing time. Manchester United could absolutely use a defender of de Ligt’s youth and caliber, but their lack of Champions League play could put them at a disadvantage. Liverpool would love to have an international teammate to partner with fellow Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk, especially with injuries decimating the back line this season which left Joel Matip as a consistent starter.

The one team shattered by this statement would be Juventus, who would be considered a major player with Giorgio Chiellini now at 34 years old and Leonardo Bonucci at 32. Also not helping Juve is de Ligt’s agent Mino Raiola being given a three-month transfer ban in Italy, which would cover this summer’s window. Raiola said he is appealing.

Van der Sar also said the club will do its best to keep head coach Erik ten Hag, with the former Bayern reserve boss now a wanted man after the Champions League run. “We intend to keep hold of Ten Hag, that is our intention,” van der Sar said. “We know there will be a lot of changes within the squad, but we’d at least like to confirm the coaching staff.”

Much of this will have to wait until the season concludes, as Ajax continues to battle for the Eredivisie title as well as the KNVB Beker trophy to wipe away the tears of the Champions League collapse.

Man City, Liverpool go 10-of-11 on PFA Team of the Year

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LONDON (AP) Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is the only player not from Manchester City or Liverpool to be selected in the Premier League’s Team of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

City had six representatives — Ederson, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero — while Liverpool had four, although Mohamed Salah wasn’t among them despite being tied for the top scorer in the league.

Pogba was picked for the team, which is voted for by Premier League players, despite having an up-and-down season. He was dropped for the final matches of Jose Mourinho’s tenure and has had a dip in form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent weeks.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard wasn’t included, despite being on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award.

Team of the Year

Goalkeeper: Ederson (Manchester City)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Andy Robertson (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Man City has left back problem ahead of FA Cup, UCL, league congestion

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Pep Guardiola‘s left back options are limited for a crucial stretch which includes matches across three competitions.

Oleksandr Zinchenko limped off the pitch in Wednesday’s win over Cardiff City, and Guardiola says “it doesn’t look good” for the Ukranian’s chances to feature in this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against Brighton and Hove Albion.

[ MORE: Weah scores Celtic winner ]

Benjamin Mendy‘s been out for much of the season and Fabian Delph is also unavailable. And, really, Guardiola has favored Zinchenko in his system. Zinchenko has gone 90 minutes in each of City’s last six Premier League matches (which is odd considering the manager appeared ready to move him).

“He is important for us,” Guardiola said. “He knows the way we want to play but it is what it is. … It happens during the season and he plays a lot of minutes, but we will find a solution. Danilo fought a lot in that position, but it is not his natural one. We will find a solution.”

It could be Aymeric Laporte, who’s played a few times at left back for City, but Guardiola loves to use the Frenchman in the middle of his defense.

City is 9-0 when Zinchenko starts this season, and the reigning champions follow up the FA Cup semi with three matches against Tottenham and a fourth versus Crystal Palace.

Laporte header sends Man City top (video)

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  • Laporte nods in D. Silva free kick
  • Jesus adds goal at the death
  • City outshoots Everton 14-4
  • MCFC second team to breach 60 points this season

Manchester City went atop the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

The visitors, who got a late marker from Gabriel Jesus after Aymeric Laporte opened the scoring, have played one more match than leaders Liverpool. Both have 62 points.

Everton probably deserved a point on the merit of its second half, but remains ninth with 33 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leroy Sane nearly continued Man City’s run of scoring very early in matches, snapping a left-footed shot wide of the far post.

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford came out for a corner kick and missed it, but Aymeric Laporte nodded wide in the 16th minute.

Sane and David Silva set-up Aguero in-tight, but the Argentine hit the cross bar as City kept pouring forward toward an opener.

It wasn’t all City, as Bernard won a corner when he headed a Theo Walcott cross off the back of Kyle Walker.

City got its goal before halftime, with Laporte getting a header past Pickford off a spinning David Silva free kick.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Second-half sub Raheem Sterling became the focal point of all things City, influential at both ends of the pitch.

City could not kill off Everton, and Marco Silva introduced Gylfi Sigurdsson for the last 30 minutes and Richarlison off the bench as the match neared its final quarter-hour.

Jesus then collected a Kevin De Bruyne through ball in the seventh minute of stoppage time, nodding the ball over the line after Pickford slapped it into the air.

Man City clinches Champions League knockout round berth

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  • Lyon takes 5 of 6 pts from City
  • City clinches knockout round spot
  • Laporte, Aguero score equalizers

Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero each scored as Manchester City overcame a pair of Maxwel Cornet goals to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with a 2-2 draw at Lyon on Tuesday.

City will host Hoffenheim in the final group stage match, but will likely show a second-choice side as the match in sandwiched between Premier League encounters against Chelsea and Everton.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Lyon had two big early chances, the more alarming when Maxwel Cornet’s faulty first touch while unmarked atop the six allowed Aymeric Laporte to block his shot for a corner.

Cornet hit the frame in the 43rd minute with a bounding scissor kick. Man City came through with a good chance just before halftime, as  Anthony Lopes stretched to collect Riyad Mahrez‘s low effort.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Cornet made amends for his early miss with a thriller of a finish in the 55th minute, giving Lyon a deserved advantage.

A quick restart put memphis Memphis Depay atop the 18, and his cross to the other side of the box was settled by Cornet. His long distance shot to a slight turn around a flying Ederson to make it 1-0.

Sergio Aguero saw a 58th minute header saved by Lopes as City found a moment, and Laporte got his equalizer when David Silva passed the ball across goal. The header was far from simple, as Laporte craned his neck to power a header past Lopes.

The Lyon goalkeeper nearly spilled a rebound over the line within a minute, but it remained 1-1.

But Cornet did it again, shouldering off Laporte to beat Ederson off a terrific through ball.

That’s when Man City answered a second time, with Aguero’s remarkable header off a Mahrez corner kick leaving Lopes out to dry.