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Mexico probes possible collusion in soccer signings

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexico’s federal government says it is investigating possible “monopolistic practices” in the signing of soccer players in the country.

A statement from the Federal Commission on Economic Competition says such purported activity related to recruiting and hiring would violate Mexican law.

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Investigators are looking at possible “contracts, agreements, arrangements or collusion between competing economic agents.”

Tuesday’s statement says any entities found guilty may be fined up to 10 percent of earnings and individuals could face up to 10 years in prison.

It did not name any teams or persons that may be under investigation.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Zlatan’s future: Ibrahimovic hopeful of return to LA in 2019

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s first season in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy was largely a success. The charismatic forward is under contract with the club for next season, but a few things have to happen if he is to return.

“I have some wishes and demands which is simple things,” Ibrahimovic said Tuesday as players had end of season meetings. “There is interest in Europe, but my priority is Galaxy. They have wishes, I have wishes, but I’m optimistic and I’m positive.”

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Ibrahimovic is a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player and newcomer awards after he had 22 goals and 10 assists in 27 games.

AC Milan of Italy’s Serie A has been the latest to express interest in bringing the Swedish player back to Europe on loan, but he said he is not interested in doing something like that, admitting that if he is under contract to one club, he wants to devote his attention to that club.

“If I belong to Galaxy, I am a Galaxy player. If I belong to one club, I give my attention to one club, so I am here,” he said.

Ibrahimovic made $1.5 million this season, according to Major League Soccer’s Players Association contract figures. In order for him to earn more next year, the Galaxy would have to part ways with one of their three designated players.

Galaxy president Chris Klein said initial conversations with Ibrahimovic have been promising, and bringing him back is a top priority for the club.

“What he did this year is certainly well documented,” Klein said. “He wants to win and we want to win with him. Hopefully we can come to a resolution that is good for both sides.”

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The only thing Ibrahimovic couldn’t do his first season in MLS was get the Galaxy to the playoffs. LA (13-12-9) would have earned the final spot in the Western Conference with a win in its final regular-season game but squandered a two-goal lead to Houston and lost 3-2.

The club announced Tuesday they fired vice president of soccer operations Pete Vagenas. Klein said he hopes to have that spot filled soon. Former Galaxy and US national team coach Bruce Arena is believed to be a candidate.

They also have to decide on a head coach. Dominic Kinnear was 3-2-1 after replacing Sigi Schmid in early September and drew positive reviews from most players, including Ibrahimovic.

“I think the season was like a roller coaster. Hopefully we make it better because that is the target,” Ibrahimovic said. “I want to be able to challenge for the trophy. Like I said, I’m not here for a vacation, I’m here for the challenge and I want to feel my team has a chance to be the best in MLS. I am the best, but I want to feel like my team can compete against the others.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Agent says Usain Bolt has contract offer

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Usain Bolt’s agent claims that his client has received an A-League contract offer from Central Coast Mariners after spending more than two months on trial with the Australian club.

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The eight-time Olympic goal medalist, who’s 32 years old after retiring from track and field last year, scored twice in a Mariners exhibition last week. Now, his agent says he’s been offered an official contract — quotes from the AP:

“In response to the media stories, yes, Usain has been offered a contract. I do not want to make any further comment at this stage.”

Mike Mulvey, the Mariners manager, not only claims to be unaware of any such offer, but sounds rather dubious and unenthusiastic about the prospects of Bolt being a first-team player.

“You have a look at our front line today and you wonder whether he could get into any of those positions, wouldn’t you? I do appreciate how important this story is for the rest of the world.

“You’re just talking about speculation, I don’t know anything about what you’re talking about and that’s the honest truth.”

“We’re going to go back, have some dinner, have a little look at the game that’s on … then get on a plane tomorrow, go home and start preparing for Melbourne City next week. That’s the plan.”

Reports: Atlanta seals deal for Pity Martinez, will head to club Jan. 1

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Atlanta United is still sorting out its Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup runs, but 2019 is also coming into focus.

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Reports say that Argentine winger Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez will indeed be the star Atlanta signs to offset to presumed sale of Miguel Almiron, who may be moving to Arsenal amongst several rumored European clubs.

Multiple reports say the Five Stripes’ pursuit of Martinez has paid off, with the River Plate man ready to bring his flashy game to Georgia.

Martinez has 25 goals and 23 assists in 136 matches, and will reportedly cost Atlanta around $17.2 million. TNT Los Angeles says the move will happen January 1.

Martinez debuted for Argentina’s senior national team last month, and scored on debut against Guatemala. He ticks all the boxes for technical director Carlos Bocanegra and president Darren Eales.

Report: Martial rejects “several offers” of new Man Utd contract

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Anthony Martial‘s Manchester United future has been in doubt ever since the summer, when Phillipe Lamboley, the 22-year-old’s agent, announced that his client wanted to leave the club.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 9

Since that time, Man United reopened negotiations with the French international over a new contract — the key concern of his desire to leave — but a report from French news outlet RMC Sport, the same outlet that was first on the scene when Lamboley began making demands, indicates that those negotiations are not going well.

According to the report, Martial and Co., have rejected “several offers” of a new contract in recent weeks. Martial’s current contract expires at the end of this season, though the club has an option to extend the pact an additional year.

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While the expectation remains that a new contract will be agreed, United have just two and a half months before clubs from outside of England can discuss pre-contract terms with Martial as an impending free agent. At that point, United would undoubtedly exercise their option for the 2019-20 season, but that’s a situation they’d certainly like to avoid — for the sake of the player’s happiness and willingness to sign a long-term contract after months of failed negotiations.

Martial has scored 38 goals (in 144 appearances) during his three-plus seasons at the club. Nearly half of his goal haul — 17 — came in his debut season of 2015-16.