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Fernando Torres spurns MLS, signs to play in J1 League

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TOSU, Japan (AP) Former Liverpool, Chelsea and Spain striker Fernando Torres signed to play for Sagan Tosu in the J1 League on Tuesday, dashing the hopes of Australian football that he might become a marquee attraction for its struggling A-League.

The 34-year-old Torres held discussions with Football Federation Australia and officials of A-League glamor club Sydney FC, raising hopes he might add some star power to the A-League which has seen flagging attendances and TV ratings. Torres was also rumored to be joining the Chicago Fire, coached by former Atletico Madrid player Veljko Paunovic.

But the former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Atletico Madrid forward announced he will be joining former Spain teammate Andres Iniesta in Japan.

Torres was one of six players on a shortlist of possible marquee stars drawn up by the FFA two months ago, which also included Iniesta and Japan’s Keisuke Honda.

The A-League has a centralized $3 million fund to attract marquee players but hasn’t had a truly big name since Italy’s Alessandro Del Piero played for Sydney FC from 2012-14.

Europa League preview: Torres, Wenger aim to keep fairytale endings alive

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For all the talk — some of it authored by yours truly — about the romance of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger saying goodbye to the club in a French-hosted UEFA Europa League Final against French opposition, UEL semifinal opponents Atletico Madrid have an alluring argument of their own.

Atleti hosts Arsenal after a 1-1 first leg, bringing an away goal home in its bid to reach the May 16 final in Lyon.

[ MORE: Roma-Liverpool recap | Reds react ]

Fernando Torres is going to leave Atleti this summer, perhaps for the Chicago Fire, but admits he wishes he could play there forever.

Torres, 34, even says his first move away from the club, to Liverpool, was for the benefit of Atleti.

“I always will want what’s best for the team and always put Atletico Madrid before me,” he said in an interview with beIN LaLiga. “Twice,I have given up what I want most, which is to play here. I understand that it is good for the club, and I would do it a third and a fourth time.”

Torres went 90 minutes in Atleti’s 1-0 win over Alaves at the weekend, with regular strikers Kevin Gameiro, who scored off the bench, and Antoine Griezmann kept out of the Starting XI. Diego Simeone also rested Saul Niguez, Jan Oblak, and Jose Gimenez.

Arsenal will be also fresh after using a much-changed side against Manchester United this weekend.

Manager Arsene Wenger was quizzed about his intentions for the future, including a possible job in Spain. He didn’t bite.

“I believe a man has to give his best as long as he is somewhere, with all his commitment and energy. I would like one day to know I worked with all my energy until the last day. I would like to look back and think I finished this love affair well.”

Wenger also complimented Griezmann, his fellow Frenchman, praising him for trying to succeed outside of his home country.

“He is a player I rate. He moved out of France at a young age, he made it away from home. He has an exceptional career and he looks like he loves the game, which I like in a player that is talented.”

The other side of the draw has Marseille in Austria holding a 2-0 lead on Red Bull Salzburg.

Both matches kickoff at 3:05 p.m. ET.

Report: Fernando Torres prefers MLS move over China

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At a time where Major League Soccer has growingly become more and more youthful, a veteran presence could be gracing the league very soon.

[ MORE: How does Man City stack up against PL’s best clubs? ]

Recently, Zlatan Ibrahimovic completed his long (very long) awaited move to the LA Galaxy, but now another veteran striker could be calling MLS his home once his contract in Spain expires at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Fernando Torres has been on the radar of several MLS sides, and the former Spanish international is reportedly keen on a move to the U.S. instead of one to the China Super League.

The Montreal Impact, Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City have each been linked with “El Nino” since word came out that Torres’ time at Atletico Madrid would end in 2018.

The Fire are believed to hold the Discovery Rights to Torres if he does in fact decide to join MLS at some point.

This season, Torres’ role at Atleti has been reduced significantly with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa up front, however, the former World Cup winner has still scored eight goals in 36 appearances for the club.

La Liga: Torres starts Atletico Madrid farewell with a goal

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona win to stretch run to 39 games unbeaten ]

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Levante

Fernando Torres entered the weekend with only seven league games remaining in his Atleti career after announcing this week that he would leave the club this summer. The 34-year-old World Cup (2010) and Champions League (2012) winner began his farewell tour on Sunday and marked the occasion with a goal, Atleti’s third in their 3-0 win over Levante.

Angel Correa opened the scoring with what proved to be the winner in the 33rd minute, followed by Antoine Griezmann’s 19th league goal of the season (26 in all competitions) three minutes after halftime, and it was more than enough for Diego Simeone’s side to secure all three points and maintain their four-point lead on Real Madrid in the race for second.

Malaga 1-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid leapfrogged Valencia, who lost to Barcelona on Saturday, to reclaim third place after dropping a pair of points in last weekend’s Madrid derby.

Isco and Casemiro got the goals for Zinedine Zidane’s side before Diego Rolan pulled one back very late on for Malaga.

The final El Clasico of the season, while carrying little to no title implications, is three weeks away at the Camp Nou.

Elsewhere in La LigaSaturday’s roundup

Getafe 1-0 Espanyol
Eibar 0-1 Alaves

Report: Chicago owns MLS claim to Fernando Torres

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The Chicago Fire reportedly have a Discovery Claim on Fernando Torres, and according to MLSSoccer.com’s Paul Tenorio could be first in line to land the Atletico Madrid striker should he arrive in Major League Soccer.

Torres, 34, could combine with big striker Nemanja Nikolic to bolster Chicago’s offense, which has scored in every game this season and has 7 in 4 outings.

[ MORE: Italy vs. USMNT in November ]

The striker, who’s also played for Liverpool, Chelsea, and AC Milan, has said he wants to play on for two or more seasons in his career.

For those indoctrinated in MLS parlance, the Discovery Process allows a team to call “dibs” on up to seven players outside of Major League Soccer who do not meet specific criteria related to the USMNT or college soccer.

So, yeah, that’s how a team can discover a man with two EURO titles, a Champions League crown, and a World Cup to his name.