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Barcelona, Napoli to compete for new trophy in USA

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Barcelona and Napoli will play a two-legged final in the U.S. this summer.

The duo will play a friendly double-header in the first edition of the LaLiga-Serie A Cup, with the first game in Miami and then three days later they’ll square off in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Barca are the reigning La Liga champs, while Napoli finished runners up in Serie A last season. Juventus, the reigning Serie A champs, are spending their preseason in the Far East, so that’s probably why Napoli have stepped in to play Barca in this two showpiece games.

Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed Barcelona’s delight at heading back to the U.S. for preseason for the third-straight campaign.

“Visiting the United States and being able to get closer to our fans is always a great thing for Barca. On top of that, we will also have the chance to play at two iconic stadiums: at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where in 2017 we played the La Liga Clasico, and at Michigan Stadium, the largest in the United States. While there, we hope to put on a show and entertain our American fans with our style of play,” Bartomeu said.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis added that their first trip to the USA for three decades will be a memorable one.

“Our club has not visited the country for thirty years and the chance to go back to the American market for these two games and against an opponent like Barca is extraordinary for us.”

The Spanish league have been pushing hard to move a regular-season game to Miami but La Liga clubs and players have pushed back at the idea of taking a game overseas.

Earlier this month in Madrid La Liga president Javier Tebas explained to Pro Soccer Talk why it was so important for the Spanish top-flight to try and become more visible in the North American market.

“We want one match, one per season. It is the only place in the world we want to do this,” Tebas said. “Why? Because it is part of our international strategy. The same as the big American competitions play a match outside their country. That is bring to bring the game closer to their fans abroad. One match out of the 380 matches that are played. We thought it was interesting because it is a global phenomenon. Everybody has found out about it. It would really help us to increase our brand value in the United States.”

Barcelona and Napoli will be bringing their brands to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on Aug. 7 and Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor on Aug. 10

Report: Hirving Lozano in advanced discussions with Napoli

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According to a report by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Mexican attacker Hirving Lozano is in advanced discussions with Napoli, and the two sides have agreed to terms on a contract, with just his image rights to work out.

The report states that Lozano is on board with the move and the Italian club is ready to offer $56 million to his current Dutch side PSV Eindhoven as soon as the image rights issue is negotiated.

Di Marzio says that the current hang-up is regarding Lozano’s current sponsorship agreements, which total around $3.3 million.  The two sides are negotiating whether to increase his agreed-upon salary of $5 million per year and transfer his image rights to the club, or leave everything as-is and sell only any future sponsorship agreements to the Italian side.

The reported transfer fee is surprising given “Chucky” reportedly has a $40 million release clause in his contract, but it could be that he is a wanted man and the total is higher with the aim of remaining competitive. Tottenham is also reportedly interested along with Barcelona and Manchester United, and Lozano has gone public saying he hopes to play in the Premier League eventually, but Napoli’s offered total could potentially scare off the others.

Lozano is represented by famed agent Mino Raiola who has reportedly been in contact with Napoli since early May, but he is currently suspended by FIFA, so it’s likely that others are currently negotiating. It apparently took a bit of work to convince Lozano to join the Italian side as there is heavy competition for playing time up front at Napoli, with Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, and Dries Mertens all racking up consistent minutes on the wing. Still, Callejon is 32 years old and coming off a season with just three goals in 2,652 Serie A minutes, both lows for his Napoli career.

The 23-year-old Mexican is currently on the shelf, missing the 2019 Gold Cup due to a knee injury suffered in an Eredivisie game late in the season. The injury could affect his sale price and delay a medical, but it’s not expected to affect his start of next season, as it was initially thought he would recover in time to participate in the summer’s international festivities.

Trippier, on transfer rumors: ‘I want to stay, but what can you do?’

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The 2018-19 season was nothing short of a stomach-churning roller-coaster ride for Kieran Trippier, beginning with last summer’s 2018 World Cup and wrapping up with Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.

[ WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Groups A, B and C | Groups D, E and F ]

Now the busiest 12 months of his career are in the rearview mirror and a lengthy summer vacation is on the horizon, but Trippier also has a massive decision to make — or, as he sees it, a decision that will all but be made for him — regarding his future with Tottenham, and the Premier League.

Transfer rumors linking the 28-year-old right back with a move to Napoli have been coming up since early in 2019. Now, Juventus and Atletico Madrid are also reportedly hot on the trail. One would assume Trippier would benefit from having a handful of options before him, but it sounds as though he isn’t exactly thrilled by the idea of moving abroad, at least not without having much say in the matter himself — quotes from the BBC:

“I want to stay in England but what can you do? I’ll see what happens and what the club wants, most importantly.”

“I go home now, spend time with my family, just recover after a long, difficult season. Everybody’s got a decision to make.

“Obviously this club has been very good for me over the last few years but I’ll enjoy my summer, come back in preseason and that’s when I’ll sit down with the manager and have a talk about my future.

“I see a lot of speculation about me not being here. I give everything, 100 percent every game — win, lose or draw. So we’ll see what happens in preseason.

First things first, selling Trippier would require to Spurs to acquire the short- and long-term replacement to his position. Given that the club hasn’t signed a single player for two straight transfer windows, that might be easier said than done.

Secondly, if goal was to maximize Trippier’s value as an outgoing transfer, Spurs missed the boat on doing so 12 months ago. While he was generally seen to have put forth a strong showing at the World Cup, Trippier’s 38 appearances (all competitions) for Spurs this season were anything but stellar.

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ukraine, Ecuador, Senegal advance to QF (video) ]

Part of that is down to the fact that Serge Aurier, the only other right back that Mauricio Pochettino trusted to play meaningful minutes, spent much of the season injured, thus Trippier was handed an unmanageable workload which saw his fitness and sharpness wane as the season wore on.

A parting of ways seems not only the ideal outcome for Spurs, who require an upgrade at the position to build upon this season’s achievements, but also for Trippier, who will only be made an easy scapegoat as long as he remains at the club.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Man United after Portuguese duo, Spurs want Lo Celso

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With the Premier League season complete and the offseason officially upon us, Premier League teams are shopping to keep up with those around them and plug holes that might need improvement.

Manchester United is reportedly after a trio of Portuguese players, and there is significant news regarding two of them.

According to reports in Portugal, central defender Ruben Dias is on the verge of a new contract with his current club Benfica which would bump his release clause from its current $67 million to a whopping $112 million, making it that much more difficult for the Red Devils to pursue the 22-year-old this summer. Currently, Dias is signed through 2023, but the club wanted to boost its ability to control the market with Dias connected to the biggest clubs in Europe.

Dias, a Benfica youth product, played the full 90 minutes in 32 of Benfica’s 34 league matches this season, a fixture at the back for the club as they won the league by a two-point margin over rivals Porto. While Benfica’s main asset was its blistering attack that scored 103 goals, the most in the league by a massive 29-goal margin, the defense conceded just 31 on the season, second-fewest behind Porto’s 20.

Part of that sparkling Benfica attack, 19-year-old Joao Felix, is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, but the club announced Friday that there had not yet been any official submissions for his services. “No offer has arrived,” Benfica executive Domingo Soares told Portuguese television channel TVI24. “There is talk and rumors. It’s true that top European clubs have expectations, but no proposal has arrived to us.”

Felix appeared 26 times for Benfica on the season, including starts in the final 19 games of the year once he earned his permanent place in the team in early January. He scored 15 goals and assisted nine others, earning comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo for his style of wing play that sees him like to drift centrally.


Tottenham is preparing for the possibility of Christian Eriksen to depart the club this summer, with a move to Real Madrid heavily reported. They are reportedly keeping a close eye on Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso, who had a fine season with the Spanish club after moving permanently from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 23-year-old proved his value with an outstanding 16-goal haul in 46 matches across all competitions, a gluttonous tally for a midfielder. Lo Celso was on loan at Betis this season, but the club activated a clause in the loan to secure him permanently this summer for a modest $25 million. According to Spanish publication AS, Tottenham would be willing to pay up to $67 million for the Argentine, a sizable and immediate return on investment for Betis despite owing PSG a 20% sell-on fee for any outgoing transfer.

Lo Celso has been slighted in his career to this point. Proving valuable in his time at PSG, he started 33 league games in 2017/18 and scored four goals with five assists in a deeper midfield role, but was still considered surplus to requirements the next campaign. He was left on the bench for most of Argentina’s disappointing 2018 World Cup journey despite the attack constantly crying out for his creative abilities, and subsequently loaned out to Betis, where he flourished.


According to reports in Italy, Napoli has already rejected a $100 million offer for defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Real Madrid. Koulibaly is yet another defender linked with Manchester United, as it’s no secret the upgrade needed along the Red Devil back line, so the price tag will come as a blow, as will interest from other top clubs. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has previously said publicly that he has turned down massive bids from clubs for his Senegalese defender, but never specified the club.

The 27-year-old signed a five-year contract last summer that runs through the summer of 2023 and contains a whopping $168 million release clause. Napoli appears to be using that as leverage, although any return even remotely close to that would be a significant gain for the Italian side that secured him from Genk for just $8 million back in 2014.

Koulibaly was a reported target of Jose Mourinho before his dismissal at Old Trafford, and it could be difficult again if the price tag is that high. With a number of top defenders on the market this summer, including the aforementioned Ruben Dias as well as Matthijs de Ligt, clubs may be forced to look elsewhere for a defensive replacement.


Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, as the 25-year-old Ghanan international anchored the Atletico Madrid defense well last campaign and could be on his way out, especially if Atleti faces an overhaul this summer.

Partey played it cool when asked about his future, noting that anything he says can and often will be used against him by the media. “It’s hard for me to talk about transfers because the next minute it will be like ‘Thomas is trying to leave’ but for me playing football is what makes me happy,” Partey told BBC Sport.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me but as long as I play and they are happy with me here then there is no need flirting with others.”

An Atletico Madrid youth product, Partey has made 130 appearances for the club, including a 32-game league season this past campaign. Atleti finished second in the table with 76 points, eight above third-placed Real Madrid and 11 behind the champions Barcelona. They conceded just 29 goals, the least in the league by a significant margin.

La Liga and Serie A: Godin’s Atleti goodbye, Real lose again; Roma beat Juve

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings of the 2018-19 season ]

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Sevilla

Captain Diego Godin made the 388th appearance of his nine-year Atleti career on Sunday, marking the final time he’ll take the field in the Spanish capital for Los Rojiblancos. Godin was honored by a capacity crowd, all on their feet, after the game.

Koke put second-place Atleti ahead in the 30th minute. Pablo Sarabia drew sixth-place Sevilla level in the 70th.

Real Sociedad 3-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid suffered their 11th league defeat of the season (17 across all competitions, for the first time since 1998-99) after going 1-0 up in the 6th minute, courtesy of Brahim Diaz, and being reduced to 10 men in the 39th (Jesus Vallejo).

Mikel Merino (26th minute), Joseba Zaldua (57th) and Ander Barrenetxea (67th) got the goals for eighth-place Sociedad.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Barcelona 2-0 Getafe
Valencia 3-1 Alaves
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Celta Vigo
Leganes 0-2 Espanyol
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Real Valladolid
Girona 1-2 Levante
Real Betis 2-1 Huesca


Roma 2-0 Juventus

Roma’s quest for Champions League qualification got a massive, and somewhat unexpected, boost in the form of a victory over champions-elect Juventus. Claudio Ranieri‘s side were three places and four points off fourth place, but now they sit just two place and one point back of Inter Milan with two games left to play.

Alessandro Florenzi (79th) and Edin Dzeko (90th+1) did all of Roma’s damage late against a full-strength Juve side. Following a disastrous start to the season (just five wins from their first 15 games), Roma have righted the ship and are now unbeaten in their last seven league games and have lost just three of their last 19.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 1-2 Torino
Torino 3-2 Sassuolo
Frosinone 1-3 Udinese
Sampdoria 2-1 Empoli