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.

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Liverpool putting their house in order before summer

The recent reports suggest that Liverpool FC are keen on further strengthening their backline after having signed Dutch international Virgil Van Dijk for £75 million in January this year. They are very keen on making a move for Dani Carvajal, the Real Madrid right-back.

He has emerged as the first choice everywhere for that particular position on the field, and has already appeared almost 200 times for the Galacticos. The attacking defender has also become a part of the Spanish national team, and his current contract runs until 2022.

Beyond the pros themselves, many people might also actually be punting on that possibility that Carvajal will join Liverpool on online betting sites like the Paddy Power football betting portal. The key to the ever-lucrative online sports betting industry is, as you may expect, all about making sure as many of the odds are in your favour as possible. And when it comes to a sport like football, where a single player could make all the difference between a smashing success and an embarrassing failure, putting your money on a win for your team can become entirely reliant on your team’s star players.

Jurgen Klopp is keenly looking forward to strengthening the right-back position of the Reds, as he prepares for a busy summer this year. This is mainly because of the ongoing injury problems surrounding Nathaniel Clyne. Owing to that, Klopp has had to resort to calling upon the young pair of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Carvajal hails from Leganes and has been in Madrid for quite some time after becoming the first-team regular, so the deal seems like a little way off right now. He joined Madrid from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013 after one season in the Bundesliga.

The chase for Emre Can

In terms of one potential outgoing, Juventus need to wait until the summer to figure out if they have successfully managed to tempt Emre Can from Liverpool to Turin. The midfielder is out of contract this summer and everyone is expecting him to join Juventus on a free transfer. Some reports have suggested that the Reds are contemplating an extension, but Can has been insisting on a release clause, which is proving to be a roadblock in the deal.

Reports suggested the 24-year old midfielder already signed a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club in January, but is nevertheless keeping his options open.

Talking to the press Emre Can said: “Of course I have to think about my footballing future. I haven’t signed for any other club, I’m just focused on this season.

“We want to finish in second place in the Premier League, we’re in the Champions League quarter-finals and we want to progress. That’s all I’m focused on now. My agent has blocked all the negotiations, I’m thinking only of football.”

Can has so far scored 14 goals in his 162 appearances since joining Liverpool in 2014.

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Incoming Thomas Lemar?

Going by the French press, Liverpool could be all set to finalise a highly important transfer of midfielder Thomas Lemar. Le10Sport, a France-based popular sports portal reported that the 22-year old midfielder from Monaco is expected to move to Anfield. All signs suggest that Liverpool have finally won that race.

Apparently, Monaco had been holding out and were expecting a bid in the vicinity of £88 million. As per the French publication, the deal is almost final.

Hazard leaving Chelsea? – Star set to go after top four failure

After a performance that has been heavily criticised by pundits, Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City has made finishing in the top four look extremely unlikely for the Blues. Champions League football is a must for attracting and keeping top players. Missing out could be a catalyst for Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea.

The Belgian is arguably one of the best players to represent the club. Since joining in the summer of 2012 he has been a key performer for Chelsea. But the possibility of him staying with the Blues for the long haul has been constantly questioned.

Hazard has made no secret of his admiration for current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid. The temptation for any player to pull on that famous white shirt is enough to worry adoring fans that their current favourites could move at any time.

This summer seems the most likely yet that Hazard leaving Chelsea is a real possibility. Hazard is yet to pen a new deal. Now he may be looking to move on after six seasons in the capital.

When taking a look at Hazard’s Chelsea stats, his potential departure is a major concern for the club.

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea?

It’s easy to see how influential Hazard is for Chelsea. He has been directly involved in 160 goals in his 287 games in all competitions. His two Premier League titles, Europa League and League Cup is an impressive haul of trophies so far.

Hazard has successfully completed 940 dribbles in the Premier League and European competitions since joining Chelsea. That is bettered by Lionel Messi (1045), but not Cristiano Ronaldo (388) or Neymar (861).

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Title defence failure

Although City have taken the league by storm this season, Chelsea’s title defence has been poor to say the least. It’s the second title defence in a row where Chelsea have not been up to the races.

For Hazard to continue his growth as a player and to be recognised as one of the elite he needs to be winning or challenging consistently for a league title every season. That is not happening for him at Chelsea, which will be increasing his frustrations.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – New challenge & Ballon d’Or

A new challenge may be on the Belgian’s mind. As mentioned, he has been with Chelsea for six seasons now. In the modern game longevity is becoming a less frequent feature of a career.

At 27, Hazard is now in his prime years and he arguably has six seasons at left in him at the very top of his game. He will want to be challenging to win the Ballon d’Or year-on-year during that time. While Messi and Ronaldo are still dominating European stats, Hazard is a name that is constantly thrown into the ring for those who are expected to hit the highest levels.

Winning the Ballon d’Or while playing in the Premier League is not a very frequent occurrence. The last time it happened was in 2001. So even with the domination of Messi and Ronaldo from 2008 onwards – it seems unlikely for anything to change any time soon.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Champions League desire

Winning the Champions League is at the top of the list for every player in Europe. Hazard is facing the prospect of not playing in the competition for the second time in just three seasons. While Chelsea are still in the current round of the competition, they aren’t being backed by many to advance.

His desire to win the competition is natural. It’s all to apparent how difficult it is to win the Champions League while playing with the pressure of what is known as the toughest league in the world.

While doing no discredit to the strength of the remainder of Europe’s top leagues, they are seen as easier routes to having a better chance of winning the Champions League, which may be a factor in Hazard’s decision to move on.

Is Hazard leaving Chelsea this summer?

The Premier League’s best player is already planning a move to MLS

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is at the peak of his powers and is the frontrunner for this season’s Premier League Player of the Season award. He has taken the league by storm but it turns out he has eyes for MLS and a move to America in the future.

The 26-year-old Belgian midfielder loves the culture of American life and is seemingly planning to make the move to Major League Soccer once his time with Manchester City comes to an end.

He has only recently signed a huge contract extension with City that ties him down until 2023, so don’t expect a move anytime soon. But his agent, Patrik De Koster, has revealed that De Bruyne has already spoken about a potential MLS move.

“I think Kevin will end his career in the USA rather than in Belgium,” De Koster said. “He has already been to America many times on holiday, and he loves the country and its culture. We have often spoken about him ending his career in the MLS.”

“He hasn’t yet had any offers from American clubs, because they know it is not worth bothering as he is at the peak of his career. Clubs in China will probably look longingly at him, but I can’t see him going over to play there.”

De Bruyne has been in incredible form for Man City this season, picking up 14 assists. The Citizens look certain to seal a first Premier League title since 2013/14, with De Bruyne heavily tipped to be named as the league’s Player of the Season.

If he were to move to MLS in the future, it’s likely that New York City FC would be frontrunners for his signature, given their ties with Manchester City. Although the league is growing at an alarming rate and so there will be no shortage of options for a player of De Bruyne’s talent, if and when the day arrives that he is looking for an MLS move.

Do you think Kevin De Bruyne will end his career in MLS? Which club do you think he’d join?

NYCFC losing Jack Harrison to Man City in £4m deal ahead of loan move to Middlesbrough

Jack Harrison’s time with New York City FC looks to be over. The talented young English winger landed in the United Kingdom on Tuesday morning ahead of a £4 million dealthat will see him join NYCFC’s parent club, Manchester City.

But Harrison’s travels don’t stop there. He is expected to immediately be loaned out to Championship side Middlesbrough, who are now managed by Tony Pulis. Harrison will remain at the Riverside until the summer, when he is expected to join up with the Man City squad for preseason training.

The loss of Harrison will be a major blow to NYCFC. The 21-year-old winger has developed incredibly well under the guidance of Patrick Vieira and has learnt an enormous amount from teammates such as David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

But his impressive displays have come at a price for New York City FC fans. And that price is £4 million. Harrison will no longer be preparing for what would have been his third MLS season. Instead, he will be thrust straight into the middle of Middlesbrough’s Championship campaign.

Boro are currently eighth in the second tier of English football but are in the playoff race, as they sit just four points outside the top six with 18 games to play. They will be hoping the addition of Harrison can help to inspire them to a Premier League return at the first time of asking following last season’s relegation.

Harrison was also a target of Stoke City, but the Potters weren’t prepared to match NYCFC’s valuation for the player this month. As a result the former Manchester United academy attacker will join Manchester City after seven years in the United States.

In total, Jack Harrison scored 14 goals in 59 MLS games for NYCFC, assisting a further 13 goals over the past two seasons. He was a key part of the New York City squad but they will have to now prepare for life without the exciting young Englishman.

Zlatan to MLS: Mourinho gives green light for Ibrahimovic to join LA Galaxy ahead of 2018 season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears as close as ever to completing a move to Major League Soccer. The LA Galaxy are reportedly in advanced talks to complete a deal to bring Zlatan to MLS, with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho suggesting he would be happy to allow him to leave imminently.

The news was revealed by ESPN’s Taylor Twellman late on Sunday night, suggesting that both the Galaxy and the player’s representatives have been negotiating a deal to bring Zlatan to MLS.

This isn’t the first time Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move to MLS. But given the circumstances, it feels as if it really is now or never. The iconic forward is 36 and is still recovering from a serious ACL tear suffered last April and is no longer at the top of the pecking order at Man Utd. The recent arrival of Alexis Sanchez has done little to help his chances.

That’s where the LA Galaxy can come in and offer the attractive option of regular first-team football alongside a quality standard of living. Ibrahimovic has made no secret of his desire to one day play in MLS and he now looks as close as ever to making that a reality.

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Mourinho gives green light

One potential stumbling block for the Galaxy would be the fact he is contracted to Manchester United until the end of June. However, Jose Mourinho has confirmed he would be happy to allow the striker to leave before the summer.

“He told me nothing about it,” Mourinho said on Monday. “The first time I read or heard something about that was from the media. He never mentioned that to me so I don’t know.

“Zlatan is in the last year of his contract. If it’s true and Zlatan wants a future in another club in another country we are here to help and to create conditions for that to happen, not to make his life difficult.”

The 2018 MLS season begins on March 3, with LA Galaxy’s opening match taking place away at the Portland Timbers on Sunday, March 4.

Ibrahimovic has only made seven appearances this season since recovering from that knee injury. He would therefore benefit from joining up with LA Galaxy for preseason preparations to ensure he is sharp and ready for the 2018 campaign, if a deal can be struck in the next couple of weeks.

Matic to Man Utd: Should Chelsea be selling him?

Matic to Man Utd: The Serbian midfielder is close to a reunion with Jose Mourinho, but are Chelsea making the right decision to sell him to Premier League title rivals?

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s for Chelsea

The reported fee for Matic to Man Utd is £40m. A similar amount to what Chelsea have paid for Tiemoue Bakayoko, meaning the Blues would break even in terms of transfer spend.

Antonio Conte is stamping his mark on his squad for the new season. He is signing the players he wants and allowing those he doesn’t want to leave the club. So if he is able to do so while balancing the books, he’ll be even happier.

Matic to Man Utd: Con’s for Chelsea

Chelsea are losing an established midfielder. At 28 Matic is in his prime with plenty still to offer. He’s also won two Premier League titles with Chelsea over the past three seasons.

Matic’s replacement is unproven in the Premier League. Bakayoko may need time to adapt to his new surroundings and has far less experience.

Chelsea’s squad depth will be tested unless they sign more midfielders. Conte has already allowed Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah to depart the club. With the demand of more games this season compared to last, Chelsea are going to need to ensure their squad can handle the busy schedule.

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s & Con’s for United

Signing Matic will work for United. He is a grafter and will free up the likes of Paul Pogba to have more of an impact on the game in the final third.

Matic registered seven assists for Chelsea in the Premier League last season, more than any other Manchester United player. This shows his creative edge even though his main job is to provide extra cover for the defence. Plus, Mourinho knows Matic well. The Serbian has played a total of 90 games under the Portuguese head coach in the past.

However, another midfielder gives Mourinho a selection dilemma. He has at least four players who can play in a similar role. So adding Matic to the squad could lead to some discontent among those vying for a place in the starting lineup.

Photos of Matic in Man Utd training wear have appeared online over the weekend, suggesting a deal is all but done. Although the legitimacy of these is yet to be stated, it certainly looks like Matic has played his final game for Chelsea.

Coutinho to Barca? Three reasons why Liverpool need to stand firm

Philippe Coutinho’s future at Liverpool has been cast into doubt as Barcelona are ready to splash the cash on the Brazilian. The La Liga giants have already had a £72 million bid rejected, but they’ll do whatever they can to bring Coutinho to Barca this summer.

An improved £80 million bid is being lined up, according to the Daily Mirror, so this could well be a transfer saga that lasts for the remainder of the window.

Barcelona have long been admirers of Coutinho. Many feel he is the perfect man to replace Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp. But it’s Neymar’s potential world-record move to PSG that has accelerated the chase for the Liverpool playmaker.

Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly set to trigger Neymar’s £196m release clause, shattering the transfer record by £107m. That would leave Barcelona with a big void to fill in their squad, but a lot of money to fill it with.

But no matter what, Liverpool won’t want to lose their star attacker. Here are three reasons Liverpool need to hold on to Coutinho this summer:

1. ‘Not a selling club’

The club have insisted they are “not a selling club” and won’t be forced to sell. Jurgen Klopp made that very clear after news of the initial bid surfaced. He spoke directly to Coutinho about the issue during the team’s preseason tour at the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, and he believes the Reds have no reason to part ways with the Brazilian.

It’s now crucial for Liverpool to stand by that statement. Their fans will be concerned with interest from a club as big as Barca. But if Liverpool want to continue improving, as they have made clear, they must stand by their word.

2. A worrying trend following big sales

Liverpool’s three biggest sales in club history are Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez. All three were sold over the past seven seasons, but the Reds have tended to struggle after losing key men.

In Torres’s final season at Anfield, Liverpool finished 6th. The following season, they finish 8th. In Luis Suarez’s final season at the club, Liverpool hand one hand on the 2013/14 Premier League title before a late collapse saw them finish runners-up. After he left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Liverpool went on to finish 6th. That was in Raheem Sterling’s final season. Then, after he departed for Man City Liverpool ended up finishing 8th in the first season without him.

The trend is that Liverpool have worse seasons after losing star players. Yes, that will be the case for most clubs. Yes, it’s difficult to build once a star man has left. But some clubs cope, Liverpool have so far proven they cannot. Losing Coutinho to Barca would be potentially disastrous for what Klopp is building.

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3. Irreplaceable

The reason the Coutinho to Barca rumours have picked up so much pace is because there are arguably very few, if any suitable replacements for Neymar at the Nou Camp. Coutinho is excellent on the ball. He is highly versatile. He has the ability to beat a man with ease. And he is as good at finding the back of the net as he is a teammate. Barcelona know that he would be well suited to replacing the goals and assists Neymar provides.

So if Liverpool were to sell, there is no obvious answer as to who they’d bring in as his replacement. Yes, they’d have a big stack of cash to spend. But given the inflated prices during the current transfer window, Liverpool would likely have to settle for someone a lot less talented that Coutinho if they needed to replace him.

Diego Costa staying? Chelsea’s striker crisis could be solved

Chelsea have shown little intent in the summer transfer window so far. The main talk has been about the future of their controversial striker. Antonio Conte has been looking to offload him, but is Diego Costa staying?

The Blues have struggled so far to bring in a replacement for Costa. They have seemingly missed out on bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge. With the Belgian closing in on a move to Manchester United, so Chelsea are running out of options.

It is reported that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could be set for a U-turn on his decision to sell the Spaniard. If Diego Costa’s staying, Chelsea’s striker crisis could be solved. Chelsea’s preseason is days away and a solution before then would be ideal.

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Diego Costa staying: Positives

Costa is a two-time Premier League champion, he has proven his worth. His goalscoring record speaks for itself, with 58 in 210 appearances meaning he averages just under a goal every other game.

Chelsea’s number 19 has a great relationship with his teammates and the fans. Although no players have crossed Conte’s decision, they have spoken of their fondness of Costa.

With the possibility of Diego Costa staying, Chelsea do not have to spend money on a new striker. This means they can spend money elsewhere in the team and try to sign other players they need. And if he does stay for the rest of his contract, Chelsea won’t need to sign a striker until 2019.

Is Diego Costa staying at Chelsea?

Diego Costa enjoying his holiday. Via: @diego.costa on Instagram

Diego Costa staying: Negatives

Costa and Antonio Conte already have a rocky relationship. It will be difficult for them to see eye to eye and problems will more than likely happen again. If the pair clash midseason it would be impossible to see anything positive come from Diego Costa staying.

The Spaniard has already asked to leave Chelsea more than once since signing in 2014. He clearly feels he has unfinished business at Atletico. Once their transfer ban is over, Costa will probably look to force a move again. So this might leave Chelsea with the same problem of needing to sign a new striker in January.

Is Diego Costa staying? Would this be good for Chelsea?

Premier League clubs beginning to circle around NYCFC’s Jack Harrison – Report

Jack Harrison is having one hell of a season. So it comes as no real surprise that his performances with New York City FC in 2017 have caught the eye of clubs back in England, with Kristian Dyer reporting that a couple of teams are eyeing up a move.

The Stoke-born 20 year old was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and enjoyed a promising breakthrough season last term. He notched up four goals and seven assists in 21 regular season games but has stepped up another gear this campaign.

Photo: Chris Kachanoski/MLSGB

Harrison has already doubled his goal tally from last season, scoring eight in 19 games. He’s also provided five assists and has had a hand in either a goal or assist in six of his last eight matches.

But his displays mean NYCFC might have a battle on their hands if they’re to keep hold of one of Major League Soccer’s rising stars. Kristian Dyer revealed on the MSG Network that Harrison is the subject of interest from a few clubs back in England.

“One, if not two Premier League clubs are looking at him, as well as a number of Championship teams,” Dyer said.



“But the price tag might become an issue here. He would cost a lot more than Matt Miazga did two years ago, in terms of the transfer fee.”

Miazga joined Chelsea from the Red Bulls for around $5 million back in January 2016, playing twice before being sent on loan to Vitesse. He played 35 times for the Dutch club last term but is back at Chelsea now.

Harrison is the same age now as Miazga was when he moved to Europe 18 months ago. But as Dyer points out, it will take a more significant offer to lure him out of MLS.

Harrison is seemingly improving all the time. He is benefiting from the experience and leadership of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. So he has no real reason to jump ship at the midpoint of a successful MLS campaign. But every player has their price. If a big-money offer comes in from the Premier League, NYCFC might have to plan for life without Jack Harrison.