Valencia

Chris Richards
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European giants eye Bayern’s American center back

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A report in Germany says four of the world’s biggest clubs are looking at FC Dallas export and Bayern Munich II defender Chris Richards.

Two of those clubs play in the Premier League, the others are from La Liga.

Richards celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday and was set to star in the U.S. Olympic team should it had qualified for Tokyo 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic changed the schedule.

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Bild claims that Arsenal, Chelsea, Valencia, and Barcelona are monitoring Richards, who also plays right back.

Three of the four have experience with Americans in the fold, including current Chelsea man Christian Pulisic and budding Barcelona starlet Konrad de la Fuente. Gedion Zelalem was a highly-touted Arsenal prospect and now plays with New York City FC.

The report also speculates that it will not be too long before Richards gets called into regular training with the first team, noting that Richards went 45 minutes in January against for Bayern’s first team.

Richards has started 22 of 23 matches for Bayern II, scoring twice and playing nearly 2000 minutes. Bayern II sits seventh, six points back of leaders MSV Duisburg.

The pathway to Valencia’s first team might be a bit easier to walk, but Richards will have a big battle to get into the first teams of all of the aforementioned teams. Staying with Bayern may make the most sense.

Atalanta-Valencia match labeled ‘Game Zero’ by some medical experts

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They’re calling it Game Zero when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, but could a Champions League match in Italy really be the “biological bomb” that sent COVID-19 through two countries?

Associated Press writers Tales Azzoni and Andrew Dampf wrote a sprawling story of Atalanta’s Round of 16 first leg against Valencia in Milan last month.

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Atalanta is from Bergamo and the match was widely considered the biggest in club history. Around one-third of Bergamo’s population traveled to Milan’s San Siro to catch the event, won 4-1 by the hosts.

Now authorities are wondering whether the match, with thousands of Italians and a number of visiting Spaniards, helped send the virus back west.

From The Associated Press:

“We were mid-February so we didn’t have the circumstances of what was happening,” Bergamo mayor Giorgio Gori said this week during a live Facebook chat with the Foreign Press Association in Rome. “If it’s true what they’re saying that the virus was already circulating in Europe in January, then it’s very probable that 40,000 Bergamaschi in the stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged the virus between them. As is possible that so many Bergamaschi that night got together in houses, bars to watch the match and did the same. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew the virus was already here. It was inevitable.”

Atalanta won the first leg and then dedicated the second leg to medical workers and suffering people back home, which by then was dealing with an escalating crisis.

A journalist in Valencia attended the game and later became the second person to test positive for COVID-19 in Spain. Valencia center back Ezequiel Garay was one of five club members to test positive for coronavirus as well.

It’s certainly no one’s fault, but the validity of the hypothesis alone shows why experts are begging everyone to abide by social distancing measures.

Atalanta remains hopeful of competing in its first ever UCL quarterfinals should the competition continue later this year.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Juventus in for Torres, Upamecano to Arsenal

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The coronavirus shutdown across Europe and the world has given teams time to focus on improving their squads for the future. There’s no certainty about when the transfer window will take place as the 2019/20 season continues to be pushed back possibly bleeding into the summer or even the fall. But clubs will have no excuse not to be ready once the time comes for players to make moves.

Liverpool has been linked with Valencia winger Ferran Torres for some time now, with the 20-year-old seeing his contract with the Spanish side expiring in the summer of 2021. However, according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, the Reds will have competition for his signature.

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Juventus is reportedly interested in pursuing the Spaniard, which makes sense given the makeup of the Juve squad. On the flanks in Turin are 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, 31-year-old Juan Cuadrado, and the oft-injured Douglas Costa. Only Federico Bernardeschi can be counted on long-term at Juventus, leading to rumors such as these.

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Elsewhere, Arsenal has been linked by tabloids in England to RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, with the 21-year-old French youth international said to have asked to leave this summer – or whenever the upcoming transfer window takes place. Upamecano has started every single league match for RB Leipzig this season after missing the first four due to injury. He also played the full 90 minutes of the 3-0 win over Tottenham in the Champions League that sent RB Leipzig through to the quarterfinals.

Upamecano’s contract with the German club expires in the summer of 2021, so like Torres’ situation at Valencia, it would be in the club’s best interest to sell the youngster this coming transfer window to maximize his transfer value.

Finally, Chelsea is reportedly interested in bringing aboard a second Ajax player after already securing Hakim Ziyech. According to Italian publication Calciomercato, the Blues are looking into left-back Nicolas Tagliafico after their chase of Ben Chilwell was turned down by Leicester City. Tagliafico, a 27-year-old Argentinian international, has been a fixture in the Ajax side since joining in January of 2018 from Argentine club Independiente. His Ajax contract runs out in the summer of 2022, so while there isn’t as much urgency to sort out his situation as with Torres or Upamecano, it is still within range.

The Blues currently have both Emerson and Marcos Alonso at left-back, so they are also not necessarily looking to urgently bring someone aboard in his position, but Tagliafico is versatility, able to play in the middle as well, making him a potentially useful player in a three-center-back system.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man Utd chase Van de Beek, Spurs eye Kondogbia

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The transfer rumor mill is proving rather impervious to coronavirus, even as COVID-19 grinds the world close to a halt.

A report claims that Barcelona is willing to meet Lautaro Martinez’s release clause, and a pair of Premier League sides are linked with big additions.

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Marca claims that Manchester United is hoping to hijack Real Madrid’s long-held plans to buy Donny van de Beek from Ajax.

Van de Beek turns 23 next month. He has 10 goals and 11 assists in 37 matches this season after registering 17 and 13 in 57 appearances in 2018/19.

The report says Van de Beek has been waiting on Madrid, who couldn’t free up the money to sign him in the summer and asked him to wait a year.

United would want Van de Beek in a deeper role behind Bruno Fernandes, and his move to Old Trafford would be yet another arrow to the exit door for Paul Pogba.


Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho is hoping that a drop in the pecking order for Geoffrey Kondogbia at Valencia will open the door to a North London move.

Marca again is the source, saying Kondogbia may be available due to the emergence of ex-Arsenal man Frances Coquelin at the Mestalla.

Kondogbia’s now been well above average at Monaco, Inter Milan, and Valencia, having been linked to a number of Premier League clubs over the years.

And Mourinho is still trying to find his Nemanja Matic or Marouane Fellaini at Spurs, though Eric Dier has clearly become a well-liked option in the midfield. Tanguy Ndombele theoretically has all the tools to do the job, but Mourinho is less-than-pleased with the Frenchman.

Kondogbia turns 27 next month and is unlikely to slip. Spurs sure could do worse if Valencia makes him available, though Ndombele remains an intriguing prospect who’s very much in-house and carries transfer record status.

Valencia’s Garay announces positive coronavirus test

Ezequiel Garay
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Ezequiel Garay has announced that he has coronavirus and is in isolation, as La Liga club Valencia announced five confirmed cases after squad testing.

The Argentine, 33, tore his ACL last month and has missed Valencia’s last eight matches.

Marca says Garay is the first La Liga player to make such an announcement. He was tested along with his entire team, putting the squad in isolation as well.

Valencia urged fans to stay in their homes, proclaiming faith in the direction of Spanish medical authorities.

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“It is clear that I started 2020 badly,” Garay began an Instagram post with a bit of sardonic humor before adding that he “feels very well” and will follow the isolation protocols given by doctors.

Garay joins a growing list of players to have been diagnosed with the virus, including Wolves loanee Patrick Cutrone, Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

The defender has 32 caps for his national team, and has represented Zenit Saint-Petersburg, Benfica, and Real Madrid amongst others.

Garay arrived in Europe from Newell’s Old Boys in 2005, and has won trophies in four countries including wins for Real Madrid and Valencia in the Copa del Rey.

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