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Catalonia beats Venezuela 2-1 in friendly in Spain

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GIRONA, Spain (AP) Venezuela followed its win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina by losing to Catalonia 2-1 in a friendly on Monday.

Javi Puado scored in the 88th minute to give the hosts the win at Girona’s Montilivi Stadium. Bojan Krkic opened the scoring in the 53rd and Venezuela equalized through Roberto Rosales in the 59th.

Catalonia was led by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, who retired from Spain’s national team after the World Cup last year. He nearly scored with a curling free kick that struck the crossbar in the first half.

Venezuela earned a convincing 3-1 win over Argentina in Madrid on Friday, but after the game Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel offered his resignation because he was not happy with the politicization of a pre-game visit to the squad.

Dudamel, who was on the bench on Monday, said his future would depend on talks with Venezuelan soccer federation officials.

Catalonia, the region which recently was in the middle of a heated independence dispute with Spain, was missing players because some non-Catalan teams didn’t release them to avoid the risk of injures ahead of the final period of the Spanish league.

Catalonia has often put together squads to play in friendly matches against other nations, but clubs are not obligated to release players to the region.

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Bojan Krkic again linked with move to Major League Soccer

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Bojan Krkic‘s disappointing 2018-19 season may be switching venues.

Stoke City’s Spanish 28-year-old has started just three matches in the Championship this season, scoring one goal amongst his 13 appearances.

[ MORE: Barca signs Prince-Boateng ]

Multiple reports say that the New England Revolution is actively pursuing a big money contract for Bojan, a reported target of Brad Friedel‘s since the summer.

Last season was also a poor one for Bojan, who did not score on loan at Alaves in La Liga.

Bojan is three seasons removed from scoring seven times for Stoke City in the Premier League, and produced similar numbers earlier in his career at Barcelona and Roma.

The move represents a significant risk for the penny-pinching Revs. While his pedigree suggests he’d be a sure thing for success in Major League Soccer, his recent struggles say otherwise.

Transfer rumor roundup: Rooney, Ighalo targeted by CSL, Foxes chase Ramirez

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With the transfer window rapidly coming to a close, Premier League sides from top to bottom remain active in January.

[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]

— The Chinese Super League continues its attempt to poach the world’s biggest stars despite uncertainty over the league’s future spending habits.

Wayne Rooney has been offered over $1 million on a weekly basis to join the CSL, with several of the leagues sides reportedly interested in the veteran Manchester United attacker, according to the Sun.

The 31-year-old recently became United’s all-time leading goalscorer after surpassing 250 goals with the club.

— Meanwhile, Odion Ighalo is also being eyed by China with a reported offer of $28 million on the table for the Watford striker.

After netting 17 goals last season for the Hornets, Ighalo has found the back of the net just twice in the PL over the last 12 months.

— Leicester is reportedly willing to increase its offer to Middlesbrough in order to lure attacker Gaston Ramirez to the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes saw their most recent bid rejected by the Boro, however, Ramirez has reportedly handed in a transfer request that would help aid his wishes to move on from the club.

Claudio Ranieri‘s side has also been forced to fend off CSL side Tianjin from poaching striker Islam Slimani, who is reportedly a heavy target from the east.

— The Red Devils have sold Sean Goss to Championship side Queens Park Rangers after the midfielder failed to make a first-team appearance for United since joining the club in 2012.

— Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday continue to the race to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes, who was left out of his side’s matchday squad on Saturday in the FA Cup.

The 26-year-old has made just six appearances this season for the Boro after having scored on six occasions a season ago when the team made the jump to the PL.

Transfer rumor roundup: Jagielka, Begovic, Berahino, Zarate

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There’s action all over England, from those defending the goal mouth to others striving to conquer it.

[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]

— Bournemouth wants an upgrade on Artur Boruc, according to The Telegraph, and that could come in the form of Chelsea backstop Asmir Begovic.

The Cherries reportedly had a $12.5 million bid turned down by Antonio Conte, who has Thibaut Courtois in the No. 1 seat and Portugal national team backup Eduardo in the ranks (along with three keepers on loan and young goalie Mitchell Beanie).

— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shut the door on acquiring West Ham wantaway Dimitri Payet according to Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre:

“We have many players offensively who can play in this position. You are interested by the quality of the player but there needs to be a need as well, and we have no need in this domain.”

— Clubs in need of experienced Premier League backs need look no further than Everton, where manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that England international Phil Jagielka could leave Goodison Park. The 34-year-old center back has 40 caps for England and has made 337 appearances for Everton. He could be a massive upgrade for Sunderland if David Moyes is up for a reunion.

— Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says a purchase of Saido Berahino from West Brom is not contingent on a sale of Bojan Krkic. The latter has been linked to Middlesbrough.

— Mauro Zarate may be returning the Premier League. Watford boss Walter Mazzarri has been largely let down by his strike corps as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have taken steps back this season. Could $4 be enough to bring the ex-West Ham and QPR man from Fiorentina to Vicarage Road? Zarate has four goals in nine matches for La Viola, and has nine goals in 40 Premier League matches.

Premier League AT HALF: Stoke up two goals, man; Boro 2-0 Swans

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Saturday’s 10 a.m. EDT kickoffs have two penalties, a red card, and several relegation strugglers hoping for breathing room.

[ MORE: Bobby Wood scores for Hamburg ]

Sunderland 0-0 WatfordSTREAM

The Hornets have provided more of the danger, but hosts Sunderland have made it anyone’s game with a better final 15 minutes or so.

West Ham United 0-0 Hull CitySTREAM

Dieumerci Mbokani nearly took advantage of a big Irons’ giveaway, but dinked his shot off the near post.

Stoke City 2-0 Leicester CitySTREAM

Fortune turned its head toward Leicester so often during their title run last season. Those “breaks” are not going for the Foxes this season. Jamie Vardy was sent off, and it wasn’t long before Stoke took advantage. Bojan Krkic‘s cross was handled by Danny Simpson, and Bojan converts the penalty to make it 1-0 to the Potters.

Joe Allen later tapped in from close range to seemingly limit the second half drama at the Britannia Stadium.

Middlesbrough 2-0 Swansea CitySTREAM

Bob Bradley‘s Swans came out brightly, but this relegation six-pointer is looking destined for the Riverside Stadium set. Alvaro Negredo scored with an agile and aesthetically-pleasing goal (below) before converting a poorly given away penalty by Jordi Amat.

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