Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich ‘a done deal’ in record MLS transfer

The record-breaking transfer that will take Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich is “a done deal” according to multiple sources. The deal for the 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps star will be the most expensive in MLS history.

Bayern will pay £11.5m for the Canadian winger, which could rise to £18m according to TSN’s Kristian Jack, but he adds that Davies will remain a Whitecaps player until the end of the 2018 MLS season. That would see Davies join up with his new teammates in Germany on January 1st 2019.

The transfer will make Davies Major League Soccer’s most expensive export. Jozy Altidore’s £6m move to Villarreal in 2008 has stood as the record transfer for ten years. The deal taking Alphonso Davies to Bayern is also worth more than the record sum of £11m Atlanta United paid for Ezequiel Barco ahead of this season.

Davies has taken MLS by storm since making his debut in July 2016, when he became the second-youngest player to play in the league at the age of 15, only behind Freddy Adu. He has gone on to make 54 MLS appearances for the Whitecaps, scoring three and assisting nine.

All three of those goals and eight of the nine assists have come this season, with the pacey winger looking sharper than ever. It’s no surprise Europe’s top clubs have been tracking his progress given how quickly he has developed in such a short space of time.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were reportedly interested in signing him last season but didn’t make a formal offer due to work permit concerns. But Bayern have now swooped as they look to make an investment in the North American market. Reports also suggest they are hoping to add USMNT star Christian Pulisic from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Davies, who turns 18 in November, is expected to return to Vancouver Whitecaps training after the deal is completed. He missed the weekend loss to Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders, following permission from head coach Carl Robinson. He is averaging a goal or assist every 137 minutes this season so Vancouver will need his services while they still have them for the remainder of the season.

The Canadian winger was also named to the 2018 MLS All-Star team to face Juventus on August 1st, so he will still be expected to be available for the game.

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Five MLS clubs set to battle for signing of former Liverpool and Chelsea star – report

Five Major League Soccer teams are set to fight for the signing of Spanish striker Fernando Torres this summer, according to Marca. The 34-year-old forward will be a free agent once his contract with Atletico Madrid comes to an end in June, leaving the former Liverpool and Chelsea star free to negotiate what will surely be the final move of his career.

Torres has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but it’s understood he is not keen on making the move to Asia. He rejected the chance to join CSL side Dalian Yifang in February and would reportedly prefer a move to the United States.

With no La Liga sides making Torres an offer at this point, and just a month left of the season in Spain, Torres is looking to MLS. The five clubs who are reportedly interested in bringing him to the league are Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, New York City FC, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.

A move to NYCFC would allow Torres to link up with former international teammate and good friend David Villa. The pair fired Spain to Euro 2008 glory as well as the 2010 World Cup title. New York City FC do not currently have a Designated Player slot free though, so Torres would need to accept being a TAM signing to move to the Big Apple.

Chicago and Montreal are the only sides of the five linked that have a DP slot available. It’s not certain that Torres would need to fill a DP slot, particularly at 34 years of age. But it will certainly help negotiations having that option.

The Fire are a particularly interesting option, given the fact that Torres played with Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic during his first spell at Atletico Madrid. The pair spent two seasons together in 2003/04 and 2004/05.

On top of that, Chicago own the discovery rights to Fernando Torres if he does indeed move to MLS, according to league sources. The Fire have opened the 2018 season with just four points from their opening five games. They’ve scored seven goals but could undoubtedly benefit from partnering Torres with 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic up front.

MLS, welcome to Zlatan: Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy on two-year deal but will not be a DP

It’s official. It’s a deal that has been rumoured for a number of years and it’s now come to fruition as Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy for what will surely be the final years of his incredible career.

The 36-year-old Swedish striker terminated his contract with Manchester United on Thursday. That meant he could join LA Galaxy on a free transfer. But in addition to that coup, the Galaxy have been able to convince him to come to MLS without being a Designated Player.

Ibrahimovic’s contract will run through the 2019 season and he will earn $1.5 million per year, according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. That amount is the maximum allowed for a contract using Targeted Allocation Money. So it means Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini will remain DP’s with the Galaxy.

“Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome”

Ibrahimovic is one of football’s biggest characters. He is a global superstar as a result of both his incredible goalscoring exploits and his enormous ego that has made headlines wherever he has played.

He hasn’t even landed in Los Angeles but has already started his famous antics. An entire page of the LA Times was dedicated to Ibrahimovic’s signing on Friday, with a very short message from the man himself. It simply read: “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome.”

Ibrahimovic is expected to arrive in LA next week, on either Wednesday and Thursday. He has only played seven times since making an incredibly fast recovery from cruciate knee-ligament damage. He suffered the injury in the Europa League last April.

However, if he feels ready to play from the outset, he could make his debut in the hugely anticipated Los Angeles Derby between LA Galaxy and LAFC on Saturday, March 31 – the first ever meeting between the new rivals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy following a trophy-filled career. The powerful forward scored 421 goals in 21 seasons across Europe. With those goals coming for the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United.

He is the only player to have won 13 titles in four different leagues. He is Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer. And he is the only player to have scored in the following derbies: De Klassieker, the Derby della Madonnina, the Derby d’Italia, El Clásico, Le Classique, the Manchester Derby and the North-West Derby. Don’t bet against him making an immediate impact with a goal in the first LA Derby next weekend.

MLS, welcome to Zlatan.

Crystal Palace midfielder Jordon Mutch completes Vancouver Whitecaps move

The Vancouver Whitecaps have completed the signing of Jordon Mutch from English Premier League side Crystal Palace on a one-year loan, with the option to buy. Mutch becomes Vancouver’s 10th signing of the winter and leaves Palace after failing to make an appearance this season.

The 26-year-old English midfielder has only appeared on the Eagles’ bench three times over the course of the 2017/18 campaign and will be hoping the move to Major League Soccer can help reignite his career.

The former Cardiff City and QPR man has recorded a total of 17 goals and added 26 assists in 206 club matches in all competitions over the course of his career so far. He is a box-to-box midfielder, who replaces the outgoing Tony Tchani for Vancouver.

“Jordon is a top midfielder who has played at the highest level,” Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said. “He’s played against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United and now he wants to prove himself again in a new environment.

“He likes to get forward, he’s full of energy, and he’s in the prime of his career. We’re delighted to have him here.”

Mutch will spend the entire 2018 season with the Whitecaps, with the club having the option to purchase him if his time in MLS is a success.

The Vancouver Whitecaps kick off the 2018 season this weekend, taking on Montreal Impact on Sunday evening at BC Place Stadium. It’s unlikely that Mutch will be included in the lineup, given that he lacks match practice and will not have had enough time to prepare for the game.

2018 Key Transfers: Vancouver Whitecaps

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we finish the serie by looking at Vancouver Whitecaps and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Key Signings

Anthony Blondell: Blondell is a 23-year-old striker hailing from Venezuela. He will be unknown to many so he will have the element of surprise on many defenders. He’ll be coming off the back of a prolific season playing for Monagas where he scored 24 goals in 39 appearances. He’s had an impressive preseason campaign with the Whitecaps and will be hoping to make a real impact.

Kei Kamara: Vancouver becomes the sixth MLS club to take on Kei Kamara. After two seasons with New England Revolution in which he scored 19 goals he makes his way north. We expect him to partner Blondell up front this year in what could prove to be a great partnership. Again, their preseason form suggests they will score plenty of goals.

Doneil Henry: After having to cope with various loan spells across Europe while with West Ham United, Henry has returned back to his native Canada with the Whitecaps in permanent move. A Toronto academy graduate defender, Henry at the ripe age of 24 already has over 20 caps for Canada and a return home will hopefully get his career back on track.

Notable Departures

David Ousted: Long standing ‘keeper Ousted has left for DC United after five seasons in Vancouver. He is expected to start in DC after the departure of Bill Hamid to Europe. Vancouver fans will be sad to see him go as he has been a stalwart and a reliable leader for them for half a decade.

Mauro Rosales: Vancouver decided to decline Rosales’ option after he only had five appearances last term. Rosales has been in MLS for the past seven seasons, after stints at Ajax and Newell’s Old Boys. The winger leaves Canada after his second stint, and the jury is still out whether he will return to MLS in a playing capacity.

Sam Adekugbe: Pacey fullback Adekugbe has left for Valerenga in Norway. A Vancouver academy graduate, Adekugbe has flirted with European football for the past few years with loan spells at Brighton and IFK Goteborg, he has finally made the permanent move to Europe.

2018 Key Transfers: Toronto FC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Toronto FC and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The MLS Cup holders have got a lot to live up to. They head into the 2018 campaign on the back of an historic treble in 2017. Greg Vanney’s side really raised the bar last season and repeating that feat again this time around is going to take a huge amount of work. There have been some exciting new players come in, while Toronto have done well to keep the core of their squad together. With little improvement needed on the face of it, this has been a winter transfer window where the aim has been to keep the squad fresh and ensure there is enough depth to challenge on all fronts once again…

Key Signings

Gregory van der Wiel: Toronto have identified where they wanted to improve on their squad depth. They’ve certainly picked up a quality defender in Gregory van der Wiel. The Dutch fullback is a winner. He has league titles with European giants Paris Saint Germain and Ajax to his name. He was also in the Dutch side that came runners up in the 2010 World Cup. This is certainly an exciting signing for Toronto and further proof they are looking to dominate.

Ager Aketxe: This is a big statement from Toronto and for MLS. Ager Aketxe might not be a household name in European football but he has made the switch from La Liga at 24. He started his career with Athletic Bilbao and spent last season on loan at Cadiz. As a creative midfielder who is known for his ability to finish, Aketxe has the potential to be a real asset to Toronto.

Auro: Another defensive addition to Toronto’s ranks. Auro comes in on loan with the option to buy from Brazilian side Sao Paulo. He has represented Brazil at U17 and U20 level. He is a good option for Toronto due to his versatility of being to play on either the left or the right.

Notable Departures

Benoit Cheyrou: The experienced Cheyrou has called time on his playing days at 36, but his story with Toronto hasn’t ended. He is now working with the TFC academy, which is a huge bonus for the future stars of MLS. Keeping him at the club in some capacity is a good move by Toronto, given he was part of their rise to the top. His career saw him play at the top level in European football and while he is going to be a miss in the dressing room as well as on the field, he will still be a part of the setup for what looks like years to come.

Steven Beitashour: Toronto moved quickly in the winter window to ensure they had cover for their departing players. Beitashour featured 22 times last season for TFC and played in 51 games across his two seasons with the side. A solid fullback who pitched in with supply from the righthand side who will no doubt be a miss. He has moved to expansion side LAFC, who have picked up a good signing.

2018 Key Transfers: Sporting Kansas City

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Sporting Kansas City and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Sporting Kansas City will class the 2017 campaign as a successful one. Yes, they failed to get beyond the Knockout Round for the fourth-straight year. But they did win the US Open Cup in September and also boasted the league’s best defence, conceding just 29 in 34 games. The aim this year will be to remain tight at the back but improve the attack. They had the third-worst offence in 2017 and will hope their busy offseason work can help them in front of goal…

Key Signings

Khiry Shelton: Shelton joins Sporting KC from New York City FC, where he had been since being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He was mainly used as an impact player off the bench for NYCFC – a role he might have to accept at SKC too. But in 54 appearances, he managed six goals and 10 assists. He’s still only 24 and will hope a change of scenery can spark his MLS career into life.

Johnny Russell: Scottish attacker Russell made the move from English Championship side Derby County to Sporting Kansas City for an estimated £250,000. His contract was due to expire in the summer after five seasons with the Rams and he decided to make the move to MLS in time for the new season. He should be fresh, having only started 13 games during Derby’s 2017/18 league campaign. Expect the 27-year-old to slot in on the wing for SKC this season in a key role.

Brad Evans: MLS veteran Evans joins from Seattle, where he spent the past nine seasons, winning the MLS Cup in 2016. He is unlikely to find his way into the starting XI on a regular basis but he is a great option for depth in a number of positions. Plus, his experience will prove invaluable in the dressing room over the course of the season.

Yohan Croizet: Sporting KC have brought in the 26-year-old Croizet as a Designated Player ahead of the 2018 season, in the hope he can fill the void left by Benny Feilhaber’s departure. The Frenchman joins from Belgian side KV Mechelen, where he scored five goals and assisted seven in 54 games. He is expected to be a key man for SKC in 2018 and fans will hope he can settle quickly into the league.

Felipe Gutierrez: Another Designated Player signing expected to add a real spark to Sporting KC’s attack is Felipe Gutierrez. The 27-year-old Chilean midfielder joins after leaving Real Betis and could prove to be one of the signings of the season. He has 35 Chile caps to his name and is incredibly experienced, having played well over 200 games for four clubs in four different nations. He should adapt quickly to MLS and will either shine in the No. 10 role, or as a box-to-box midfielder, if Croizet is preferred in the No. 10 position.

Notable Departures

Benny Feilhaber: Sporting Kansas City waved goodbye to a real fan favourite, sending Feilhaber to expansion side LAFC in return for $400,000 in allocation money. SKC fans were quick to panic following the 33-year-old’s departure but he was in the final year of his contract and so cashing in now makes sense. He registered 29 goals and 41 assists in five seasons with Sporting KC, also winning MLS Cup in 2013. No doubt, he will be missed on and off the field.

Latif Blessing: Following Feilhaber to LAFC is 21-year-old attacker Latif Blessing, who was also something of a fan favourite in 2017. He only spent one season with SKC, but did score three goals and add one assist in what was a promising campaign for someone so young. The Ghanaian was selected in the second round of the 2017 Expansion Draft after being left unprotected by Sporting KC.

Erik Palmer-Brown: U.S. Under-20 international Palmer-Brown completed a move to Manchester City this winter. He wasn’t a regular in the SKC team but he is a player with huge potential, hence why Man City have decided to make a move for him. The youngster has since be loaned out to Belgian First Division A club KV Kortrijk until the summer. The centre-back played a total of 20 games in his four seasons with SKC, while he spent 2016 on loan at FC Porto.

2018 Key Transfers: San Jose Earthquakes

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at San Jose Earthquakes and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

San Jose Earthquakes had a solid 2017 campaign, finishing 6th in the Western Conference. They fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs and have changed some personnel to give the squad a needed freshen up. Mike Stahre is looking to stamp his footprint onto his side having come in as head coach in November and he will be hoping to get off to a good start in under a week’s time.

Key Signings

Joel Qwiberg: Signed from the Swedish first division, Joel Qwiberg comes in to bolster San Jose’s defence. The left back is noted for his technical ability who can also be deployed to assist as an attacking wingback.

Magnus Eriksson: Another signing with history in Swedish football. He has a consistent goal-scoring record which will be welcomed news to Chris Wondolowski. Eriksson will be expected to relive the pressure on his fellow forward while looking to impress during his MLS debut season.

Eric Calvillo: A 20 year old who looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Eric Calvillo has represented the U.S. at U15-U19 levels and has made a name for himself as a midfielder who can be deployed in a number of roles. While he probably won’t be a regular from the get-go, he will be looking to break into the team and continue to progress.

Notable Departures

Darwin Ceren: After spending two seasons at San Jose, Darwin Ceren is on the move. He made 33 appearances and had a good sense of when the time was right to push on into the attack. His ability to cover a lot of ground will need to be replaced.

David Bingham: After spending four seasons waiting patiently for his chance to become a regular between 2011-2014, David Bingham has left for LA Galaxy. He made 91 appearances over the last three seasons but lost his starting place during the 2017 campaign. Perhaps the right time for both parties to part ways …

Victor Bernardez: Given San Jose’s defensive frailties at times last season it’s not a surprise to see changes to personnel. However, Victor Bernardez’s departure may come as a bit of a strange decision considering his regular starting place over the last six seasons. His 162 appearances prove that San Jose are losing an experienced head but now at 35 they’re looking for the long term.

Marco Ureña: After 25 appearances in his only season with San Jose, Marco Ureña has moved onto new boys Los Angeles FC as the third selection in the Expansion Draft. He scored five goals in 2017 and is known for linking up the attacking play. The Costa Rican international will be missed.

2018 Key Transfers: Real Salt Lake

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Real Salt Lake and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

For Real Salt Lake, the aim will be starting the 2018 season how they finished the last. Yes, they missed out on the playoffs and yes, defensively they were poor. But Mike Petke got the team playing well over the final months of the season, winning eight of their last 15 games. They finished eighth in the West and missed out on the playoffs on the final day, despite winning. Petke has had the winter to reform the squad ahead of his first full season in charge, so expect them to be a strong outfit in 2018…

Key Signings

Pablo Ruiz: RSL will hope 19-year-old central midfielder Pablo Ruiz can settle quickly and become a key member of the team this season. He joins as a Discovery Signing from Chilean club San Luis, where he made 10 league appearances last season. He represented the Argentina U17’s at the 2015 U17 World Cup but is now poised to represent Chile, if he receives a senior call-up. One to keep an eye on.

Adam Henley: Real Salt Lake’s new regular right-back is set to be Welsh-American defender Henley. He joined the club as a free agent this winter, after leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season. He’s still only 23 but will be hoping to reignite his career in MLS. He was born in Tennessee but moved to England aged two, before rising through the Blackburn academy and into the first team. He has two senior Wales caps to his name and is a player who should make a real impact, if he can recapture his form quickly.

Damir Kreilach: RSL made the move to sign Kreilach from second-tier German side Union Berlin for an undisclosed transfer fee. The 28-year-old midfielder has always wanted to play in the United States and will now be hoping to impress in Major League Soccer. He spent the past five seasons with Union Berlin, scoring 33 goals in 157 appearances for the club.

Brooks Lennon: Lennon isn’t exactly a new signing, given he spent last season with RSL. But his loan move from Liverpool was turned into a permanent transfer this winter, which is a huge boost for the Claret and Cobalt. The 20-year-old attacker played 25 games last season, scoring three goals and picking up four assists. He is one of many youngsters ready to try and lead RSL to success this season and beyond.

Notable Departures

Chris Wingert: After having his option declined at the end of last season, Wingert has decided to call time on a 14-year MLS career. The American full-back played 23 games for RSL last season but has decided now is the right time to retire. He represented Columbus, Colorado and NYCFC but will be mainly remembered for his time with RSL. He played a total of 10 seasons with the Claret and Cobalt, winning the 2009 MLS Cup.

Chris Schuler: Another long-time RSL defender to have his option declined was Schuler. The 30-year-old centre-back has been plagued with injuries, halting him for finding any real consistency. He is a talented defender who has unfortunately had opportunities taken away from him. Schuler had been with RSL since 2010 but played just 21 games over the past three seasons.

Omar Holness: 2016 first-round draft pick Holness departs RSL after two seasons in which he failed to nail down a regular starting berth. The midfielder was seen by many as the long-term replacement for Kyle Beckerman in the RSL midfield but started just six games in two seasons. Last season was supposed to be his year but he was rocked when he suffered a torn ACL in July, that would leave him out for 8-12 months. He is still recovering from surgery but has been signed by USL side Bethlehem Steel FC,  the affiliate of the Philadelphia Union.

2018 Key Transfers: Portland Timbers

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Portland Timbers and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The Portland Timbers enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign as they made a strong charge to finish top of the Western Conference at the end of the season. However, they were left stunned as Houston knocked them out of the Conference Semifinals on home soil. That shock was followed by the departure of head coach Caleb Porter, who was loved by everyone associated with the club. He has been replaced with Giovanni Savarese and so how the former New York Cosmos coach handles the transition will be key to how successful Portland are in 2018. Some key offseason moves have been made to try and ensure they remain at the top end of the standings.

Key Signings

Andy Polo: Portland have added another dangerous weapon to their attacking arsenal ahead of the new season as Andy Polo joins from Mexico’s CA Monarcas Morelia. The 23-year-old winger has signed on loan with the option to buy at the end of the season. He is a versatile and speedy winger, who has represented Peru 15 times already, scoring once. The Timbers will hope his addition can fill the void left by Darlington Nagbe’s departure (more on that below).

Julio Cascante: Young defender Cascante joined the Timbers at the start of January in exchange for Targeted Allocation Money. At 24 years old he has already played international football for Costa Rica and has 100 professional matches under his belt. As with Roy Miller and David Guzman, Cascante has joined from Saprissa in his native Costa Rica. He will hope to impress and force his way into the starting XI on a regular basis.

Cristhian Paredes: Paraguayan prodigy Parades has joined on loan from Club America in Liga MX. Yet to play for Club America, Parades started his young career at Sol de America in Paraguay. Similar to Cascante, Parades has already made an appearance for his country. At 19, he has a long career in front of him and a point to prove as Portland will hope he can come in and add a new dimension to their attack.

Samuel Armenteros: Swedish striker Armenteros has joined on loan from Benevento in Serie A. He is yet another international signing, as he has played twice for Sweden. The question that will be posed is can he either partner or dislodge star striker Fanendo Adi in the Timbers strikeforce?

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Notable Departures

Darren Mattocks: Mattocks was the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft but his career has yet to live up to the potential that was assumed of the pacey striker. After spending the past six seasons in the Pacific Northwest with Vancouver and Portland, he is now on his way to DC United. He scored just five goals in 43 appearances for Portland.

Ben Zemanski: Zemanski joined Portland after three seasons with Chivas USA where he was a regular. Life at the Timbers was frustrating to say the least as injuries plagued his time in Portland. With only 15 starts over the last two years, Portland let his contract run out after five seasons and an MLS Cup.

Darlington Nagbe: Nagbe’s move to Atlanta was one of the major shocks of the offseason. Arguably one of the best players in the league on his day, his versatility and creative abilities would be an asset to any team. He was a huge fan favourite in Portland after joining in 2011 via the MLS SuperDraft. He joins Atlanta, with a huge $1.65 million in allocation money going the other way. Nagbe played 214 games, scored 27 goals and won one MLS Cup. Portland have lost one of their biggest stars, so it will be intriguing to see how they cope without him.