Minnesota United host special guests for Aston Villa friendly

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Thousands of Minnesotans and others from the Midwest will flock to St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday to see Minnesota United take on Aston Villa. But one group of soccer players and staff in attendance will have traveled from thousands of miles away to enjoy the match.

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Minnesota United is hosting the Girls Under-15 team from the LEAD Monrovia Football Academy in Monrovia, Liberia while the team plays in the USA Cup. While the team of 14 players and three staff members are hosted in Minnesota, they’ll also be watching the Aston Villa game from Allianz Field.

“As a club, we’re always looking for ways to connect with our diverse community through the world’s game,” Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright said in a statement. “Our ownership group has worked tirelessly with LEAD Africa to make this trip possible for these girls and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to Minnesota. We know it will mean a lot to the more than 35,000 Liberians living here in the Twin Cities and to Liberia’s president, soccer legend George Weah.”

This week, the U-15 team got to attend Minnesota United training and had some fun with Designated Player Darwin Quintero.

The USA Cup is taking place this week in the Twin Cities, with other clubs from all over the world jetting in to play in the tournament. In addition, the organization LEAD Africa, of which the Monrovia Academy is under the umbrella of, is a group that works to empower the future of Africa through sports and education.

For Aston Villa, Wednesday’s match represents the beginning of a season back in the Premier League, and the chance to test themselves against decent opposition. It’s a quick trip to the U.S. for Aston Villa, which finishes up preseason back in England before one last game in Germany at RB Leipzig.

Report: John Terry favorite for Newcastle job

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John Terry has emerged as the surprising front-runner to become the new Newcastle United manager.

Terry, 38, has been the assistant manager of Aston Villa for the past 12 months and played a big part in their promotion back to the Premier League.

However, various reports claim that the Chelsea and England legend is now the overwhelming favorite to take the vacant Newcastle job after Rafael Benitez decided not to renew his contract late last month.

Bookmakers odds on Terry to be the next Newcastle manager have plummeted, as the five-time Premier League winner has never hid his ambition to be a manager one day. Other managers to be linked with the Newcastle job include Steve Bruce, Steven Gerrard, Quique Sanchez Flores, Mikel Arteta and Chris Wilder.

With Mike Ashley still in place as Newcastle’s owner as a protracted takeover from the Bin Zayed Group continues to rumble on, hiring someone like Terry may be a rather low risk appointment while everything is still getting sorted out. His wages wouldn’t be that high and he would be hungry to take his first job as a head coach.

But let’s not forget that Newcastle have lost a defensive mastermind in Benitez, plus their two top goalscorers from last season in Salomon Rondon (returned to West Brom at the end of his loan) and Ayoze Perez (sold to Leicester for $38.5 million).

As things stand at Newcastle, no matter who arrives to take charge this summer they will be among the favorites for relegation in 2019-20.

A young manager like Terry may be better suited to staying at Aston Villa as a No.2 for a few more years, then picking his first head-coaching gig at a team in less turmoil than Newcastle currently are. That would be a smart move by Terry, but how often do jobs of this size come along for unproven coaches?

Frank Lampard‘s decision to leave Derby County for his beloved Chelsea after just one season in management proves that the urge to manage as high as you can as early as you can is strong.

This is a tough decision for Terry. Does he follow Gerrard and Lampard into the hotseat at a giant of a club?

Villa reportedly lands promotion star Mings from Bournemouth for big fee

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One-time Bournemouth transfer record signing Tyrone Mings is ending his injury-hampered time with the Cherries, but staying in the Premier League.

And he’s about to become a two-time club record signing.

Aston Villa will reportedly announce his capture on a deal for a reported $25 million which could rise to $31 million.

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He signed a second deal with the Cherries in 2017, but will still likely be more remembered for his nasty streak. He stepped on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s head while with Bournemouth and later bloodied Nelson Oliviera’s face in a similar but worse manner while on loan at Villa.

A left back at Bournemouth, Mings has played just 857 Premier League minutes since making the jump from Ipswich Town to Bournemouth in 2015. He played center back for Villa in a half-season which included a pivotal role in Villa’s playoff run to the Premier League.

If the fee seems a lot, it’s probably down to the positional switch.

Villa’s next game is against Minnesota United on July 17.

Transfer rumors: Bale will not be loaned; Justin to Villa, Leicester; RSL winger to PL

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

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Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL and Europe…

Gareth Bale‘s agent has said his client is not going out on loan, after reports linked him with a temporary move to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking to Sky Sports News from Royal Ascot as he took in the horse racing, Jonathan Barnett had the following to say when asked if Bale, 29, would leave Real on loan this summer.

“There’s more chance of me winning at Ascot than him going out on loan. A loan move is not going to happen,” Barnett said. “I don’t think he wants to go out on loan. He’s got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth’s situation at Real hasn’t improved.”

Barnett added that Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Bale around but didn’t rule out the possibility of him staying at Real beyond this summer and although he didn’t shut down talk of a move to Man United when asked, it doesn’t seem likely to happen given United’s new transfer policy of buying young talent.

“He could fit in there. I think he could do very well – he is still one of the best players in the world. But it is very unlikely,” Barnett added.

Back to the drawing board for Barnett and Bale as they try and figure out a good solution for him for next season, as the player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles with Real in his six seasons in the Spanish capital is far from a fans favorite at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Eden Hazard and others arriving this summer, Bale is being nudged towards the exit door at Real.

Having three years left on his $700,000 per week contract is the major sticking point in any move, as Bale is in no hurry to be forced away to take a huge pay cut.

Aston Villa and Leicester City are battling to sign Luton Town’s James Justin, according to the Daily Star.

The 19-year-old right back was sensational in Luton’s 2018-19 campaign as the won the English third-tier title and promotion to the Championship. Per the report, Villa and Leicester are willing to pay $13 million for Justin with Villa saying he would be challenging for a starting spot right away but the Foxes see him as a player for the future.

A versatile attacking full back who can play across midfield and defense, Justin came through Luton’s academy and made his debut in an EFL Cup win against Aston Villa back in 2016. There are plenty of gems across the lower leagues of English soccer, as the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Harry Maguire have proven in recent years.

Taking a punt on an exciting full back for $13 million is the way to go for teams like Villa and Leicester who have smaller squads and are more than willing to take the time to develop young talent.

A report from our partners at Sky Sports says that West Ham and Newcastle United are interested in signing Real Salt Lake star Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino, 22, is currently on Copa America duty with Venezuela and the report states that he could be available for as little as $8 million. Per the report, both the Hammers and Magpies have sent scouts to watch him play against Brazil at the Copa America on Tuesday.

Savarino has had a decent start to this season with RSL, scoring three times and adding an assist in 13 appearances. He scored for Venezuela against the USMNT in their 3-0 friendly win in Cincinnati on June 9 and given the relative success of Miguel Almiron after his move from MLS to Newcastle, North America’s top-flight is being looked at more regularly by PL clubs.

Is Savarino ready for that step up? He has steadily improved since joining RSL from Zulia in 2017 and has scored six and seven goals in his two previous MLS campaigns. With a transfer fee so low, if he plays well for a dangerous Venezuelan side at the Copa America he could edge close to a move to Europe and it would be tough for RSL to stand in his way.

Report: Villa beat rivals to $28M Brazilian striker

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Aston Villa’s bid to quickly reassert themselves in the Premier League has taken a good step on Thursday.

Reports out of Belgium say that the Villans have pipped Newcastle and Lazio to the signing of Club Brugge striker Wesley Moraes for $28 million.

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The Brazilian striker, 22, posted 17 goals and 10 assists in all competitions last season, scoring twice in the Champions League against Monaco and once in the Europa League versus Red Bull Salzburg.

It’s a good sign for the Villans, along with keeping a hold of captain Jack Grealish.

While it’s silly to think Moraes will instantly slot into the Premier League side as a dynamic and prolific scorer, he’s well thought of and will hopefully develop chemistry with Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi, and Jonathan Kodija in a hurry.