Football League Championship

AC Milans wants USMNT back Robinson
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USMNT left back Robinson a surprise target for AC Milan?

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AC Milan has identified an American as a potential answer to its left back depth issues.

Hampered by Financial Fair Play concerns, the Rossoneri could be offloading Ricardo Rodriguez to Fenerbahce and chasing a replacement.

The future No. 2 to left-sided wizard Theo Hernandez? It could be Antonee Robinson.

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The England-born USMNT back is in his second season with Wigan Athletic, making a permament move from Everton this summer after a loan move in 2018/19.

From CalcioMercato.com:

“The boy is American, he has already given his go-ahead to AC Milan but at the moment he has been put on stand-by… The executives like him and it’s a bet with good potential at low cost. For now, he has to wait.”

It’s a risky move; If Milan doesn’t qualify for Europa League or Champions League, minutes behind one of the most highly-regarded left backs in the world would be scarce. The 22-year-old Hernandez has six goals and two assists in 17 appearances since arriving from Real Madrid (He’s real good).

Then again, if they don’t qualify, Hernandez might want out of Milan.

Robinson, 22, has seven senior caps for the USMNT and is a major hope to solve a problematic position for Gregg Berhalter’s program.

Only one of those caps came under Berhalter, who otherwise hasn’t called up the Olympic-eligible left back in favor of Daniel Lovitz and Tim Ream.

Robinson has also played a little left mid for the Latics this season, scoring a goal in 28 Championship matches.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man Utd eyes $32M teen phenom; Bruno Fernandes latest

Transfer rumor roundup Manchester United
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Friday reports claimed Bruno Fernandes may be in the stands as a Manchester United player as soon as Sunday’s match with Liverpool.

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Then came claims that Sporting Lisbon had waffled on either price of payment plan for their megastar midfielder, throwing the deal back in the balance.

Sky Sports says the deal is far from dead, with Fernandes “desperate” to make the move to Old Trafford, one made by countrymen Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani before him.

Still, it’s all a bit wild after Friday, where United fans watched the Lisbon Derby just hoping for the player’s healthy passage in what was largely viewed as a farewell to the fans.

It still may be, but nothing’s coming easy for the Red Devils these days.

The Times claims that United is making a big investment in its long-term future with more than $30 million in the offing for a 16-year-old Championship star.

There would reportedly be an 18-month loan back to Birmingham City for Jude Bellingham, whose Championship side is lagging near the bottom of the table.

Bellingham doesn’t turn 17 until the summer and has already rung up 25 senior appearances with four goals and an assist for the Blues.

United’s Sunday rivals Liverpool are also eyeing a youngster, albeit one with less first team experience.

Pedro Brazao of Nice is 17 years old and being tracked by plenty of teams, according to RMC Sport, with Liverpool joining the fray.

The Portuguese youth international made his Ligue 1 debut off the bench in April, but has yet to hit the pitch this season. Nice isn’t exactly channeling goals, either, but Brazao is an exciting prospect.  Chalk this one as one for the future.

Stoppage time equalizer for American midfielder Duane Holmes

Duane Holmes scores for Derby County
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Derby County stayed unbeaten with Wayne Rooney on the pitch thanks to a last minute goal from an American playmaker.

Duane Holmes hit a beautiful volley in the first minute of stoppage time to give the Rams a point away to Middlesbrough on Saturday.

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It was the American’s first goal of the season and third in 56 appearances for the Rams. Holmes earned his first two USMNT caps this summer.

The 25-year-old has been an every week starter for Philip Cocu dating back to mid-October.

Rooney went 90 minutes as Derby is 17th with 34 points, eight back of the promotion playoff picture.

Back to Holmes, he admitted that the goal was lucky; He swung his peg but it struck his shin pad to fool the goalkeeper.

‘Delighted’ Rooney assists, captains Derby County in debut win (video)

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Wayne Rooney returned to English football in style, picking up an assist while captaining Derby County in a 2-1 defeat of Barnsley on Thursday.

The 34-year-old swept a free kick to the foot of Jack Marriott for the first goal of the match. The Rams moved to 33 points, eight points back of the playoff places.

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Rooney was credited with three tackles and two interceptions to go with his key pass, and was tracking to be the Man of the Match before petering out over time. From The Derby Telegraph:

“It was a good victory in the end,” he said. “That’s seven points out of the last nine and for myself personally, I’m delighted to get 90 minutes.

“It was nice. Obviously, I’ve been training for a long time now, so it’s always nice to get back on the pitch. It felt good, but the most important thing for us was the three points.”

Next up for Derby is a visit to Middlesbrough, who holds the same amount of points as his Rams.

What are reasonable expectations as Rooney prepares for Derby County debut?

Wayne Rooney prepares for Derby County debut
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Oh, there are so many ways this could go…

Wayne Rooney is set to debut for Derby County on Wednesday, his first appearance in the Football League Championship following 491 Premier League appearances and 50 more in MLS.

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Throw in 187 more runs in the cups of Europe, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on why manager Phillip Cocu isn’t going to hesitate to give Rooney a chance to shine early and often.

“If a player with the qualities, career and the experience of Rooney (is available) you have to be very happy and glad he is here, so I don’t need a suspension to consider him in the first XI to be honest,” Cocu said.

Cocu says expectations should be lowered for the 34-year-old Rooney at the start of his tenure at Pride Park. From The Derby Telegraph:

“He’s fit, he can start but he will need a few games. Expectation will be high when he starts playing but we have to give him a few games to build up his minutes and get in the team. So maybe not perfect from the start, but it’s important he will get in the team as soon as possible so we get a certain shape in our team.”

Derby sits 17th in the Championship with 30 points, nine clear of the bottom three and nine back from the playoff places. Rooney joined the club in late November but wasn’t eligible to play for the side until January.

So what should we expect from Rooney?

Most former MLS players’ performances in the Championship are difficult to compare to Rooney. There’s the obvious trouble given he enters with one of the best resumes in English history. And usually the move is represented by youngsters, like Jack Harrison and DeAndre Yedlin or MLS bit players going home (often to levels below England).

Rooney was a force in Major League Soccer, no doubt, so it’s reasonable to expect he’ll deliver some of the goods at Derby. Thirty-two year old Steven Fletcher has 12 goals this season, Lewis Grabban (31) has 11, and that both Pablo Hernandez (34) and Lukas Jutkiewicz (30) put up double-digits in goals and assists last season.

No, this isn’t about whether Rooney will produce offense, or even if he’ll be able to stymy the red mist that saw him sent off twice at DC United. Admittedly, the last point is a bit more of a concern than the first given the fine margins in the Championship.

Promotion from the Championship would be a surprise and unexpected notch in Rooney’s belt. Not a lot of players have turned that trick having already minted their legend status.

Our prediction: Rooney helps the Rams to a bunch of wins and some decent additions in the January window to boot. He pitches in 8-10 goals and a half-dozen assists while the Rams make it to the playoffs. Anything after that is impossible to guarantee, which is why the Rams would’ve been better served not sitting 21 points off leaders Leeds United and West Brom.

But he is where he is, and he’s done more with less. And at the very least, this should be a lot of fun.