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Transfer rumor roundup: Pepe to Arsenal, Lo Celso in demand

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Here’s the Tuesday morning transfer buzz after a holiday weekend in America:

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Arsenal target Nicolas Pepe leaving Lille is beyond certain. Just ask his manager.

“Nicolas will leave not 100 percent, but 150 percent,” said Christophe Gaither. “Can a footballer be prevented from going to a great European team? It is impossible.”

Pepe’s 11 assists were joint-second in Ligue 1 this season, and only Kylian Mbappe scored more league goals than his 22.

The 33 combined markers mean Pepe was involved in nearly half of second-place Lille’s 68 goals.

Pepe, 23, will fetch a fortune on the transfer market. Is Arsenal willing to spend enough to give Unai Emery another big playmaker? More importantly, will they outspend teams like Inter Milan?

Meanwhile, Spurs continue to be linked with playmakers. In addition to potential interest in Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez, the North Londoners are said to have put in a $67 million bid for Giovani Lo Celso.

The Real Betis starred on loan from Paris Saint-Germain and has a release clause of approximately $111 million, so there’s probably going to be some haggling here.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are also being matched with the Spaniard.

Finally, Edinson Cavani is ready to make a move to La Liga and join Atletico Madrid should Diego Simeone’s men sell Diego Costa. Atleti is also being linked with Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell, and just announced the $25 million signing of center back Felipe from Porto.

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

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According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

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In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.

MLS Snapshot: RBNY trounce VAN, clinch East’s final playoff spot

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The game in 100 words (or less): Just when we were oh so sure the Vancouver Whitecaps had solidified themselves as the cream of the Western Conference crop, Carl Robinson’s side lands flat on its collective face in suffering a 3-0 defeat away to the New York Red Bulls a week later. A win would have put Vancouver seven points clear (for the time being) of everyone in the West. Instead, Sporting Kansas City feature in one of two games in hand later on Saturday with a chance to close the gap to one. New York, meanwhile, needed just three more points to clinch the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference, which they did thanks to another standout, two-assist performance by Sacha Kljestan. The 32-year-old set up goals scored by Daniel Royer and Felipe to take his average to 17 assists per season for the last three years. Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged the other goal (assisted by 18-year-old stud Tyler Adams).

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Three moments that mattered

33′ — Kljestan feeds Royer to make it 1-0 — Kljestan tallied his 50th assist in just under three seasons since returning to MLS, which positions him among pristine company. Royer still has plenty of work to do after getting on the end of Kljestan’s ball.

58′ — BWP dinks it past Ousted for 2-0 Wright-Phillips should be lauded for the cheeky finish after carrying the ball 40 yards, but the real story here is the ball from Adams. Watch it and feel safe in knowing he’s ready for the call, USMNT fans.

72′ — Felipe hits a laser for 3-0 — Make that 51 assists for Kljestan, who still had lots of work to do once inside the penalty area. The ball back for Felipe looks simple enough after all he did to keep it in bounds and create a bit of separation for himself.

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Man of the match: Sacha Kljestan

Goalscorers: Royer (33′), Wright-Phillips (58′), Felipe (72′)

MLS levies one-game suspension to Orlando City’s Perez Garcia

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He may have gotten away with it over the weekend, but Orlando City’s Matias Perez Garcia will now face the wrath of MLS’ Disciplinary Committee.

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The Lions midfielder has earned a one-match suspension and an undisclosed fine after kicking out at New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe during Sunday’s 1-0 win.

Upon replay, it was clear that Perez Garcia and Felipe both went to ground after jostling for the ball before the former aimed a kick at the right thigh of the Red Bulls player.

Perez Garcia will miss his club’s next match when Orlando hosts the LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon at Orlando City Stadium.

Report: Red Bulls, Impact working trades involving Felipe Martins, Ambroise Oyongo, top allocation spot


The New York Red Bulls’ winter of coaching staff and roster turnover is nowhere complete, according to multiple reports with sources close to the club.

The 2014 MLS Eastern Conference finalists are reportedly locked in trade negotiations with the Montreal Impact over a swap deal involving 23-year-old Cameroonian Ambroise Oyongo, 24-year-old Brazilian playmaker Felipe Martins and the No. 1 spot in the MLS allocation order.

According to a report by Empire of Soccer’s Dave Martinez on Tuesday, with Jesse Marsch now in charge of the Red Bulls, the former Impact head coach has a strong desire to acquire Felipe, who played under Marsch in 2012 and notched four goals and 10 assists in his first MLS season.

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To reunite with Felipe, Marsch is reportedly willing to part ways with Oyongo, who the Red Bulls only just signed on a permanent basis earlier this month following a stellar 2014 on-loan season in which the Cameroonian national team left back began the season as second-choice and ended the year a vital piece to the club’s run to the conference finals..

A straight swap of Felipe and Oyongo would seem to greatly favor the Impact, thus Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported on Tuesday that “any [Impact]-Oyongo deal would involve top allocation spot,” which given recent reports of the Red Bulls’ interest in US national team midfielder Sacha Kljestan, would suggest they’re positioning themselves to acquire Kljestan through the only mechanism by which he could return to MLS: the MLS allocation order.

source: Getty ImagesMontreal currently sit first in the allocation order, with RBNY currently 14th of 20 teams. The LA Galaxy, who last week traded Marcelo Sarvas perhaps to make room on the roster and under the salary cap for Kljestan, received the Colorado Rapids’ No. 3 spot in the allocation order in exchange for the Brazilian midfielder.

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Kljestan played college soccer at Seton Hall University, located in South Orange, New Jersey, just seven miles from Red Bull Arena.

According to Galarcep, the Red Bulls are also close to completing the signing of 22-year-old center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who was drafted No. 8 overall by the Portland Timbers in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, most recently played for Chivas USA and was not selected in the Dispersal Draft in December.