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Report: Loader, Haaland to Man United; Upamecano to Man City

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Ah, the January transfer window is just around the corner and we can be certain of one thing: Manchester City and Manchester United are about to be linked with signing a ton of players.

A ton.

But in this instance, even though we’re six weeks away from the transfer window reopening but reports make, uh, sense?

First up, Manchester City have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano via 90min. And yep, City do indeed need a center back and he ticks all of the boxes as a long-term replacement for Vincent Kompany. With Aymeric Laporte out injured until January at the earliest, plus Nicolas Otamendi struggling for form and John Stones in and out of the team with fitness issues, Pep Guardiola is short on center backs.

Fernandinho and Rodri can’t keep on filling in at center back and the lack of cover City have in the heart of their defense is the main reason they are nine points behind league leaders Liverpool. After the reigning champs admitted they weren’t going to match United’s summer bid for Harry Maguire, they probably knew this was going to happen and Laporte’s injury underlined their weakness in this area.

Upamecano, 21, will cost close to $65 million and he’s been a star at Leipzig in the Bundesliga in recent seasons. He will have just 18 months left on his current contract in January and he seems both attainable for a reasonable price and capable of having an instant impact as well as being able to develop into a fine center back.


Man United’s latest financial results suggest that will continue to focus on picking up younger gems in the British market to supplement their squad (see: James, Daniel) and they’ve been linked with a move for Reading’s Danny Loader.

Loader, 20, is out of contract this summer and will be available for a knockdown price in January. The striker has impressed on the international stage with England’s youth team, but has struggled in the second tier with the Royals as he’s scored just once in 29 appearances. He is definitely one for the future but with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood around, do United need another young striker?

According to our partners in the UK, Sky Sports, contract talks have stalled between Reading and Loader, while the England youth international almost moved to Wolves in the summer.

United proved with the signing of Daniel James from Swansea City in the summer, they aren’t afraid to pick young talents out of the Championship and give them a chance in the PL, while they have also been linked with a move for the ridiculously in form RB Salzburg striker Erling Haaland.

Haaland, 19, has scored 26 goals in 18 games in all competitions for Jesse Marsch’s side and the Norwegian striker is one of the hottest commodities in Europe. His father, former Manchester City midfielder Alfe-Inge Haaland, recently visited United’s training ground according to The Athletic. And with Haaland being a former international teammate of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there’s a lot of crossover here.

United want to sign young, hungry players and both Loader and Haaland fit that mold. The latter would be much more expensive and would he be a regular at United ahead of Rashford and Martial? On current form, probably. Long-term having Rashford, Martial and James playing off Haaland in a 4-2-3-1 formation would probably be the dream for Solskjaer.

1-on-1 with Vito Mannone, 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

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Vito Mannone is one of the nice guys, so there are only good vibes in announcing that the Minnesota United goalkeeper has been named the 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after an outstanding season with the Loons.

The 31-year-old Italian was a revelation after arriving on loan from Reading in England’s Football League Championship, the latest stop in a career which has seen him play for Arsenal in the Champions League and spearhead several big seasons for Sunderland in the Premier League.

[ MORE: One-on-one with Chris Wondolowski ]

Mannone’s 73 saves from inside the box and 136 total saves were both third in MLS as was his 11 clean sheets in a season which saw the Loons claim their first MLS playoff spot in three seasons and make a run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. He’s just the second MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to hail from outside of a CONCACAF nation.

PST had a chance to speak to Mannone for a wide-ranging conversation on not just his incredible season, but his feelings of responsibility to be a contributor to his community and the gratitude he feels to be a professional athlete. From emotionally crediting his parents to a funny story about former Arsenal teammate and current LAFC star Carlos Vela, Mannone is an absolute joy in conversation.

ProSoccerTalk: Vito, congratulations on a wonderful season. First things first, what does the award mean to you?

Vito Mannone: “I didn’t expect it in a way, but it’s an incredible feeling. You always work so hard to achieve something like this and it’s an award that rewards me, the work I put in throughout my career. It’s a special one, special moment.”

ProSoccerTalk: There are a lot of worthy on-field topics, and we’ll get to them, but I want to talk about your focus off the field. I read someone on Twitter call you “the nicest guy in football.” You clearly care about how you treat people and your purpose.

VM: “I grew up with special parents and they ingrained in me great values in general in my life. I learned everything from my dad and my mom. They were special people, not just to me but to everyone. That’s how I was raised. I always cared about other people, them first.

“The football platform gives you the chance to give back to people. Anywhere I go I try to give my best to my fans and people who support you in your job. It’s fantastic, you don’t get that in many other jobs.

We are very very lucky to have thousands of people working hard during the week to come and watch you and support you in good and bad moments. The minimum required is to give something back to them.

“Outside of football it’s something I want to do. It fills my heart but at the same time people will look at you and appreciate what you do for them. It extends in a way to connect to poor people, people with health problems. When I go out to hospitals, I always feel I’m very lucky and in a privileged situation.”

PST: It’s interesting that you mention that because for all of your accomplishments — Champions League with Arsenal, season-saving saves with Sunderland — I remember being particularly touched by something you did off the field, as Jermain Defoe and you spent time with ailing Bradley Lowery while he battled cancer, raising money and awareness.

VM: “We are very lucky and I always see myself like any of these kids, I put myself in their shoes because I was a kid full of dreams and I’m lucky that I made it but these kids or ones with problems or fighting really hard to be alive, I know a kid is full of dreams and loves football like we do. That’s why I really want to connect with them.

“Bradley was a prime example. He did so much in general for people who got to know his story. You could see this guy with a smile who would change your day, and you realize your small problems in life are nothing compared to one of these kids.”

PST: “I want to go a little deeper because I’m someone whose paid a lot of attention to the Northeast of England and, don’t get mad, but I grew up watching Newcastle. When you see something like Bradley’s story and the Sunderland connection, it makes it so much bigger than football. It brings a sense of community that extends beyond the field and our little allegiances. Did you have any role models in football who helped you find your way in the community?

VM: “My role model in life in general and in football was my dad, who unfortunately I lost when I was 16. It was a tough task to become a professional without him. He always dreamt with me and he sacrificed his life to get me where I am today and to have a nice career so far and become a professional. I would say my dad. He was my role model.

“And then there’s many good people in general in football. You always want more of these people in your life in football. You mentioned Jermain, he’s one of them, but anywhere I can go I can find people who see it the same.

“In football there is so much violence, now we see racism, we see people using football in the wrong way but I think as well as you mention these moments, these stories like Bradley or many others behind the scenes, kids who are examples, it brings football together. It makes you realize it’s not hate, it’s not violence, there’s nothing that goes above these stories.”

PST: On the field, this season… Remarkable. When a player comes to MLS and he comes with a resume like yours, you expect the player to have a decent season but I don’t know that we could’ve expected to see a goalie play as well as you did while adjusting to a new culture and country on a pretty new team. What would you say about the season?

VM: “Tremendous journey. Tremendous adventure. In general I loved every minute of it. It’s always tough when you change countries. You bring your family out in a new place. It’s never easy, not an easy job, but I had a feeling from the first chat I had with the club, I felt like it was a good project. As soon as I landed here, they treated me with respect and they showed me I was an important piece of the puzzle.

“Opening a new stadium, meeting news fans everything went really well. We started to climb and we got better and better. We molded as a team, new players, youngsters with veterans, and we had a magnificent cup run. The third year for this club in MLS. We reached the playoffs. We beat big clubs. We had an amazing season in a new stadium with special fans. Everything has been fantastic. If I go back (to Europe), I had a few objectives coming here and I successfully fulfilled all my dreams, also becoming Goalkeeper of the Year. You cannot ask for more.”

(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PST: Well, you brought it up… have you thought a lot about what’s next for you?

VM: “No, this season has just finished and I put 100 percent into it until the very last minute. We were unfortunate not to go through against Galaxy and it’s a bit of pain. But I can’t take anything away from the great season. I want to relax, sit down, see my options. I just talked to the club and it’s a good situation right now. I want to sit down with my agent, talk with my family, and see where we can go from here.”

PST: Overseas you had a number of American teammates in your career. Matt Miazga for a bit last year at Reading, Jozy Altidore at Sunderland. You’ve had plenty of career to evaluate American soccer. After a year in MLS, what’s your evaluation of soccer in America?

VM: “Until you get here, you can’t get the true feeling of what the American league is building. This league has great potential and in a few years, it will be there. Progressing really well. Incredible fans, stadiums everywhere you go. Facilities, every club I’ve been around this season has been fantastic and it’s far ahead of many many European clubs.

“What they need to get is keep going, keep building up history, and of course what I can tell you the difference is the standard of the football has been very high. I was impressed, good mix of South Americans, international from Europe, the big stars in Rooney, Ibrahimovic, Vela, my home friend Sagna, but these people want to embrace the league more and more.

“I had this impression from Europe of a retirement league, but it’s not, it’s not! It’s young players, talented players, good ones from America. Every team I faced was a challenge for me and now a days the market is changing — Almiron to Newcastle — it’s going both ways. One time it wasn’t like this. People going to England, to Italy, and coming out here too, it’s different. This will build up and get even better and better.”

PST: Who impressed you the most in MLS, both on your team and opposition?

VM: Let me think about that it’s difficult. Teammates… I’ve been really impressed with youngsters like Hassani Dotson, Chase Gasper, Mason Toye, who came into the first team and are going to be big hits for U.S. national team one day. They have got quality and are good professional, surely yes. I had very good teammates in general. Many good players around, LAFC we all know what they did. My old friend Carlos (Vela), ha, he’s been on fire.

PST: How well did you know him at Arsenal?

VM: “We spent two years as a teammates. He was a youngster too and didn’t have his best time but progressed in his career. He had one of the best years, breaking the MLS record. He’s probably going to MVP and deservedly so.”

PST: Did he get break the record against you, or tie it? That’s a real jerk move!

VM: “Actually, the one to level the record (the penultimate game of the season). We texted each other before the game. I told him don’t worry about the record. You’ll score a hat trick in the last game but zero against me. He said, no no no, one against you and three in the last game, and actually he did it! I called it, so he needs to thank me.”

PST: Thanks for being so generous with your time and congratulations again. It seems you’ve always been in the news for good reasons, like wanting to avoid relegation for the behind the scenes people at Sunderland. It feels good to see you get an award.

 

VM: “Thank you, thank you very much.”

 

MLS Goalkeepers of the Year
1996 – Mark Dodd (Dallas Burn)
1997 – Brad Friedel (Columbus Crew)
1998 – Zach Thornton (Chicago Fire)
1999 – Kevin Hartman (LA Galaxy)
2000 – Tony Meloa (Kansas City Wizards)
2001 – Tim Howard (NY-NJ MetroStars)
2002 – Joe Cannon (San Jose Earthquakes)
2003 – Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
2004 – Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids)
2005 – Pat Onstad San Jose Earthquakes)
2006 – Troy Perkins (DC United)
2007 – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA)
2008 – Jon Busch (Chicago Fire)
2009 – Zach Thornton (Chivas USA)
2010 – Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy)
2011 – Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders)
2012 – Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting KC)
2013 – Donovan RIcketts (Portland Timbers)
2014 – Bill Hamid (DC United)
2015 – Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
2016 – Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
2017 – Tim Melia (Sporting KC)
2018 – Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
2019 – Vito Mannone (Minnesota United)

WATCH: USMNT’s Miazga scores at the death, reacts

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American defender Matt Miazga had a moment some players don’t get in their entire careers on Saturday, as the Chelsea loanee buried a stoppage time winner for hosts Reading against Preston North End in the Football League Championship on Sunday.

Miazga, 24, slammed a rebound near post in the eighth minute of stoppage to boost the Royals out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch  | Sargent scores ]

He leapt over the barriers to celebrate with the home support.

“It was the first time in my career that’s happened, so I didn’t know what to do,” Miazga said. “I ran into the crowd. It was an exhilarating feeling.”

“We were actually telling Jordan, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’ but he put a great shot on, the keeper parried it away to the side and it fell to me,” he said. “At that point it’s instinct, just get it on target. I’m very happy and obviously it showed in the celebrations with me and the team.”

The Man of the Match center back was on the right side of a 3-5-2. He’s consistently rated as one of Reading’s best players during his two loan spells there, but this was his first goal as a Royal.

Miazga did not play for Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT against Canada on Tuesday, four days after going 90 minutes against Cuba in a 7-0 win.

USMNT forward Novakovich leaves Reading, moves to Serie B

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American forward Andrija Novakovich has signed with Serie B side Frosinone, bringing to an end his five years on the books at EFL Championship side Reading.

[ MORE: Transfer Deadline Day in Europe: Deals galore ]

The 22-year-old, who has made three appearances for the U.S. men’s national team, had previously been loaned out to Telstar (Dutch second division) where he scored 22 goals in 38 games two seasons ago, and Fortuna Sittard (Eredivisie) where he bagged 11 goals in 30 games last season.

Novakovich’s contract with Reading was set to expire next summer, thus the club elected to cash in (for a presumably small transfer fee) now. The player, meanwhile, can begin the next chapter of his career now, rather than waiting a further 12 months and enduring another loan move.

[ MORE: Premier League player Power Rankings ]

Frosinone spent last season in Serie A before being relegated back to the second division after one season. They finished 19th, 13 points out of 17th.

Various reports had previously linked Novakovich to clubs in Germany and the Netherlands throughout the summer.

Novakovich spent all of the preseason as a member of Reading’s first team and gave a good account of himself, by all reports. He made his first appearance for the club in four years just last month, but had since fallen away from the first-team squad.=

Matt Miagza injured early in Reading win over Huddersfield

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Reading topped Huddersfield Town 2-0 on Saturday at John Smith’s Stadium, but for USMNT fans it was a net loss on the day as Matt Miagza came off injured just 10 minutes in, leaving the defender’s status in question less than two weeks before the upcoming friendlies.

Miazga was withdrawn after pulling up lame, with live reports claiming it appeared to be a hamstring problem, although nothing has been confirmed yet.

The potential injury blow is a big one to Gregg Berhalter with friendlies against Mexico and Paraguay coming up in early September before Nations League play starts in mid-October. Should Miazga confirm a strained hamstring, he would likely miss only the friendlies, while a more significant tear could leave his status for the first two Nations League group stage matches against Canada and Cuba in jeopardy as well.

The USMNT has struggled for consistency at center-back lately, with an injury to John Brooks leaving him out of action for the entire summer and the likes of Tim Ream, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Walker Zimmerman filling in to mixed success.

With Miazga’s injury, Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson could see his way into the the USMNT squad as Berhalter looks for options. The Syracuse product has yet to earn his first international cap but has been mentioned occasionally as possibly in the mix. Brooks has since recovered from his summer knee problem, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in Wolfsburg’s 2-1 win over Koln to open the Bundesliga season last Saturday.