Belgian Pro League

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Kompany joins Anderlecht as player-manager

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Vincent Kompany‘s going home in a big way.

The longtime Manchester City center back will return to Anderlecht this summer as player-manager, rejoining the club that raised him from an academy starlet to two-time Belgian top-flight champion.

“It’s the most passionate yet rational decision I’ve ever made,” Kompany wrote on Facebook. “As a footballer, I was born and raised at RSC Anderlecht. Since the age of 6, I have been one with that club. A history of 34 league titles, they are second to none.”

Kompany, 33, made his bones at Anderlecht with 103 appearances before spending two seasons at Hamburger SV.

That was enough to attract Man City’s attention in 2008, and the big center back rewarded the club with 13 pieces of silverware: Four Premier League crowns, three FA Cups, four League Cups, and a pair of Community Shields.

At Anderlecht, he succeeds Fred Rutten with the club 12 points back of a title. The 34-time Belgian champions haven’t won the league in two seasons.

Kompany isn’t just a footballing genius, he’s one of the most intelligent people in the game and earned his MBA while with City. It will be fascinating to follow his progress as a manager, and obviously it’s a big win for Anderlecht if he can stay fit on the field. The 87-times capped Belgian still performs for his national team, and it’s fair to say he’ll continue to be an icon at home.

Antwerp teenager Joel Lobanzo dies after collapsing in training

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Royal Antwerp have revealed that youth team player Joel Lobanzo has died after collapsing in training.

Lobanzo, 17, suffered a cardiac arrest during a U-19 training session on Tuesday evening and has since passed away.

In a statement on the club website, the Belgian top-flight side revealed their shock after Lobanzo was treated on the training pitch and then transferred to hospital where he had remained in a critical condition.

Below is the statement in full from Antwerp.

We discovered this terrible news that Joel Lobanzo, a seventeen-year-old youth player from RAFC, died last night. The young football player had become a victim of sudden sudden cardiac arrest during the training of the U19 on Tuesday night. The medical supervisor and trainers who were in the vicinity of the player immediately started the resuscitation, after which the MUG team transferred the player to the UZA in critical condition. The young man remained in critical condition for more than one day, but died.

At the time of this tragic event, some tens of young people were present in the training fields. For all witnesses of this awful incident – both fellow players, trainers and youth workers – the club has provided shelter and support since yesterday. The next few days will be the case. This is further communicated internally.

From respect for Joel and his family, the club wishes to limit communication. We strongly urge the media not to bother the family and friends. A time of mourning breaks, which we want to spend all serenity. We convey our deepest feelings of compassion to Joel’s family and friends.

 

USMNT’s Ethan Horvath becomes first American to play for Brugge

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has had a long pipeline of successful goalkeepers in its history, and perhaps Ethan Horvath will be the next to join that extensive list.

[ MORE: Manchester City banned from signing academy players ]

On Friday, Horvath became the first American to ever suit up for Club Brugge when the Belgian side stepped on the field against Charleroi.

The 21-year-old American joined Brugge back in January from Norway’s Molde and hadn’t started a match during that four-month span.

Horvath has risen through the USMNT ranks over the years, earning caps with the Under-20 and U-23 sides before making his first senior team appearance in 2016 against Cuba.

LIVE – UCL Round of 16, second legs: Real Madrid vs. Roma headlines

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This is it.

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second legs kick off on Tuesday and there are two crackers on the slate.

[ MORE: UCL last 16 preview

Spain vs. Italy. Madrid vs. Rome. Real Madrid vs. AS Roma. This game immediately catches the eye, as Zinedine Zidane’s squad look to finish off the Italian giants as they lead 2-0 from the first leg at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ LIVE: UCL scores, commentary ] 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese scored in the first leg to overcome a stubborn Roma side and despite recent criticism of Ronaldo — which he answered emphatically by scoring four times at the weekend — the Spanish side will look to finish this tie off early. That said, if Roma scores early it will be very interesting indeed. Can Mohamed Salah or Edin Dzeko do the business for Luciano Spalletti’s Serie A side?

The other UCL Round of 16 second leg on Tuesday doesn’t have the same star power but it has plenty of potential after a thrilling first leg played out between Belgian minnows Gent and German upstarts Wolfsburg. The Bundesliga side escaped Belgium with a 3-2 win but will be a little nervous after letting a 3-0 lead slip and Gent getting back into the tie late on.

However, the Belgian side would need a 2-0 win to go through on away goals and their manager admits that will be a “miracle” as they head to the Volkswagen Arena. Julian Draxler has urged Wolfsburg to make club history as they aim to make the UCL quarterfinals for the first time. If Gent did spark a remarkable comeback then they too would be in the last eight for their first time in their history.

Click on the link above to follow both games live, while the schedule for Tuesday’s UCL Round of 16 second leg clashes is below.

Tuesday’s UCL games

Real Madrid vs. AS Roma – 2:45 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg vs. Gent – 2:45 p.m. ET

Report: Victor Valdes to leave Man United via Standard Liege loan

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Victor Valdes wants out of Manchester in the very worst of ways.

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Having not made a single appearance for Manchester United since the end of the 2014-15 season, Valdes, a three-time UEFA Champions League winner while at Barcelona, has seen his career come to a screeching halt at Old Trafford after a behind-the-scenes feud with Louis Van Gaal.

How desperate is Valdes, a six-time La Liga champions while at Barcelona, to leave Man United? He’s reportedly considering a loan move to Belgian Pro League side Standard Liege in order to return to first-team action, according to a report in the Independent.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Valdes was close to completing a similar move to Turkish Super Lig side Besiktas back in August, but the deal fell apart not long before the summer transfer deadline. The 34-year-old has just six months remaining on his contract at United, so even if a move fails to materialize during the January transfer window, Valdes will be free to sign anywhere in the summer.