Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

New York City FC will not have given up hope on signing Barcelona Andres Iniesta just yet, with Spanish outlet Don Balon claiming the midfielder has rejected an offer from the Chinese Super League worth £28 million per season ($35 million).

Iniesta has just over a year remaining on his current Barca contract. The club’s sporting director Robert Fernandez has claimed the World Cup winner will renew with the club he has spent his entire career at but he has yet to put pen to paper.

“He will renew at the moment he chooses,” Fernandez said. “Andres deserves the best. He grew here as a player and he’s given everything for the club. I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him and he can’t either.”

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Fernandez is right. It is tough to imagine Barcelona without Iniesta and while it looks likely he will see out his illustrious career with the Blaugrana, there is still a chance that he could be tempted to finish his playing career in MLS alongside his former club and Spanish teammate David Villa.

Rejecting a big-money offer from China suggests the eight-time La Liga champion is not solely interested in securing a big pay packet before hanging up his boots. NYCFC have reportedly offered Iniesta a ‘blank cheque’ when it comes to any possible contract negotiations but they can offer more than just money, with David Villa likely to be the deal breaker if he does indeed make the move stateside.

The 2016 MLS MVP has previously encouraged his former teammate to “share the American experience” with him in New York City, although Villa will be 36 by the time Iniesta’s contract expires at Barcelona and surely in one of his final seasons himself.

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The catch here is that the only way it seems Iniesta joins NYCFC is if Andrea Pirlo hangs his own boots up at the end of the year. The Italian maestro will turn 38 in May and only has nine months remaining on his current MLS deal – while the same applies for Villa.

It’s quite feasible to assume Pirlo will retire at the end of the year, leaving NYCFC with a free Designated Player slot as well as a healthy amount of money to spend on wages for a direct replacement. That replacement could then be Iniesta.

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Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but the Barca star will have to adapt to life under a new head coach once Luis Enrique departs this summer. He’s also only played 791 minutes in La Liga this season and is on track to play fewer league games than in any of the previous 12 seasons, proving that his role is shifting as his age becomes a factor.

The NYCFC door appears to be open, it’s just a question of if that door is more appealing than a new Barca contract for Iniesta.

Do you think we’ll ever see Iniesta playing in MLS? Or will he remain with Barcelona for the rest of his career?

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John Terry moves closer to MLS move as Chelsea career set to finish

John Terry will not get his fairytale ending by retiring with Chelsea FC, it has today been revealed by the player, with a summer move to Major League Soccer now highly likely.

Terry has arguably been Chelsea’s most iconic player of all time. He has certainly been the club’s best leader, captaining the side to 16 major honours, but his 18-year career with the Blues will come to an end in June.

The 35-year-old centre-back revealed his contract will not be extended after leading the team to a 5-1 FA Cup win at MK Dons on Sunday afternoon.

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“It’s not going to be a fairytale, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea,” Terry said.

“The club will move on. No player is ever bigger than the club. Ideally I would have loved to stay, but the club’s moving in a different direction.”

At 35, Terry is in a position where retirement would make sense, but the four-time Premier League winner thinks he still has a couple more years left in him and wants to play for another club before ending his playing career.

He has ruled out a move to another Premier League team and that paves the way for an MLS move this summer, especially when you consider he has previously spoken of a desire to play in the USA.

When asked if he could play for another English club back in December, Terry responded by claiming America would be an attractive option so long as it would suit his family.

“No chance. America, maybe. But physically I feel like I can still play. Do I want to play? Of course I do. But then decisions come into it with your family. What if you go somewhere and it doesn’t work out? Everything else comes into play, doesn’t it?”

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There would be no shortage of interested parties if Terry does secure a move to MLS, though he would likely demand to be a Designated Player and that would rule a few sides out of the running.

It will be interesting to see if he signs a pre-contract agreement in the coming weeks, just as former England teammates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard did over the past couple of years, but for now the Blues captain will remain fully focused on his final months in a Chelsea shirt.

“My performance isn’t going to change – the way I train, what I give for the club. I want to give everything and finish on a high, on 100 per cent good terms with the club.”

Has John Terry been Chelsea’s most iconic player in the club’s history? Would a move to MLS be good for him, as well as the league?

Matt Miazga turned down ‘multimillion dollar’ DP contract to join Chelsea

Matt Miazga is no longer a New York Red Bulls player, having completed his move to Premier League side Chelsea FC today, though the MLS club can’t be blamed for not trying to keep hold of their academy star.

In the wake of the move, it has become apparent that the Red Bulls attempted to make Miazga the first Homegrown Player to sign a Designated Player contract, according to Red Bulls Sporting Director Ali Curtis via Grant Wahl.

Wahl took to Twitter to reveal the details from a conversation with Ali Curtis. Information included the fact that Miazga was unwilling to sign a new deal with the Eastern Conference side because he was so keen on securing an immediate move to Chelsea.

The fact that the Red Bulls were willing to make Miazga a DP is significant and indicates just how highly rated the 20-year-old defender was by those within the organisation.

The academy product was reportedly offered a “multimillion dollar” DP contract to stay in New York, but he rejected that offer as his desire to move to the Premier League was too strong.

Curtis described his move as “bittersweet” but revealed that the funds acquired from the move will be reinvested into the club, with a significant amount being put into the club’s youth setup.

“It is a bittersweet day for the New York Red Bulls,” he told the Red Bulls’ official website.

“We are very happy for Matt to get the opportunity but it is tough to see him leave after coming through our academy to the first team – there is a different feel when one of your homegrown players leaves.

“We tried everything we could to keep Matt but we understand and respect his desire to play in Europe. Moving forward, we’ll either reinforce the team from within our existing player pool or we will acquire a player from the international market. Additionally, the proceeds of this transfer provide us with greater resources to put back into our youth system.”

“We will cheer for Matt from Red Bull Arena. He will always be a part of our family and we wish him the best,” Curtis added.

Five Premier League players that could make free transfers to MLS in 2016

The January transfer window is about to open in Europe and the Premier League is always one of the most intriguing league when it comes to transfer news and rumours.

As well as the fact that teams can negotiate transfer deals, clubs can also start to negotiate with players under the age of 24 who have just six months remaining on their current deals, with the hope of sealing a pre-contract agreement.

That second part is particularly important for Major League Soccer as several MLS sides will look to make pre-contract agreements with Premier League players who could then join for free in the summer.

Steven Gerrard was signed by LA Galaxy in this way last year, while Kevin Doyle also signed a pre-contract agreement with the Colorado Rapids last year.

But who could make the move across the Atlantic this year? We look at five possible moves below:

1. John Terry

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The long-term Chelsea captain is likely to be playing his final season with the Blues and may even decide to hang up his boots. That seems unlikely though as Terry has spoken of his desire to play on for a few years longer. A move to MLS has been talked about since Terry revealed it’s something he would consider last year.

“I would love to finish my career at Chelsea and maybe there is a time when I look to go to play in America or whatever might be best for my family at the time,” Terry told TalkSport in May 2015.

He would surely be signed on a Designated Player contract were he to agree a move stateside and would add crucial leadership and experience to any locker room in MLS.

2. Mathieu Flamini

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Arsenal midfielder Flamini has just six months remaining on his current deal and doesn’t look set to extend that as things stand. Having previously revealed MLS is something he would consider, the Frenchman could find himself playing on American soil by the time the summer arrives.

Flamini would add steel to any team’s midfield and would bring bundles of experience with him. Plenty of teams will be keeping one eye on the 31-year-old Frenchman.

3. Mikel Arteta

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Sticking with Arsenal midfielders and Mikel Arteta is another who could make the switch to MLS this summer, having fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates this season.

Arteta is unlikely to be offered a contract extension and will therefore be free to negotiate with any possible future employers from January. Arteta is a good friend of NYCFC’s David Villa and has previously spoken glowingly about MLS.

“The game in the US is definitely going in the right direction, so there’s a real opportunity for players to come over from Europe,” the Spaniard said in 2014.

4. Kolo Toure

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Kolo Toure has previously been linked with a move across the Atlantic but with just six months left on his Liverpool deal now, the Ivorian centre-back could make the move for free, making any transfer more appealing for MLS sides.

The New York Red Bulls reportedly offered Toure a two-year deal in the summer but no move came to fruition. Six months on and more offers could be laid on the table for the out-of-favour Reds defender.

5. Stephane Sessegnon

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The final name on this list is West Bromwich Albion’s Stephane Sessegnon, who would add pace and creativity to multiple sides in Major League Soccer. He struggled to get into Tony Pulis’ team early on this season but has played in ten of West Brom’s last eleven league games.

That said, it is still unclear whether a new contract will be offered to the Benin international and so clubs around the world may be keeping a close eye on the playmaker.

He would suit the fast-paced playing style seen in MLS and could be an interesting addition to the league if any team reaches out.

Which of the players above do you think will move to MLS in 2016? Are there any others you think could make the switch?

 

Talented pool of 60 players eligible for Friday’s MLS Re-Entry Draft

With the 2015 Major League Soccer season now officially over, offseason activity can begin, and the MLS Re-Entry Draft could throw up numerous roster changes on Friday (December 11).

The first stage of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Friday at 3pm ET (8pm GMT) and a total of 60 MLS players are available for selection, including the likes of Marco Pappa, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Mauro Rosales and Maximiliano Urruti.

To qualify for the Re-Entry Draft, players have to be out of contract with their 2015 teams and be either:

  • At least 23 and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience
  • At least 25 with a minimum of four years of MLS experience

Out-of-contract players who are at least 28 years old and have a minimum of eight years of service in MLS are eligible for free agency for the first time ever. There are a total of 26 players eligible for free agency after seeing their contracts expire at the end of the 2015 campaign.

Full list of the 60 players available in the MLS Re-Entry Draft:

GK Joe Bendik (Toronto FC)
GK Josh Ford (Orlando City SC)
GK Tally Hall (Orlando City SC)
GK Alec Kann (Chicago Fire)
GK Chris Konopka (Toronto FC)
GK Matt Lampson (Columbus Crew SC)
GK Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
GK Brian Perk (LA Galaxy)
GK Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy)
GK Paolo Tornaghi (Vancouver Whitecaps)

DF Kevin Alston (New England Revolution)
DF Jalil Anibaba (Sporting Kansas City)
DF Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps)
DF Jeb Brovsky (New York City FC)
DF Hassoun Camara (Montreal Impact)
DF/MF Greg Cochrane (Chicago Fire)
DF Leonardo Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders)
DF Tony Lochhead
DF Tommy Meyer (LA Galaxy)
DF Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)
DF Pa Modou Kah (Vancouver Whitecaps)
DF Lovel Palmer (Chicago Fire)
DF Chris Schuler (Real Salt Lake)
DF Zach Scott (Seattle Sounders)
DF Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City)
DF Bakary Soumare (FC Dallas)
DF Jordan Stewart (San Jose Earthquakes)
DF Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo)
DF Anthony Wallace (New York Red Bulls)
DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe (New York City FC)

MF Carlos Alvarez (Colorado Rapids)
MF/FW Tony Cascio (Orlando City SC)
MF Warren Creavalle (Philadelphia Union)
MF Danny Cruz (Philadelphia Union)
MF Andy Dorman (New England Revolution)
MF Michael Farfan (D.C United)
MF Fred (Philadelphia Union)
MF Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo)
MF Jeremy Hall (New England Revolution)
MF Jackson (Toronto FC)
MF Alex Lopez (Houston Dynamo)
MF Michel (FC Dallas)
MF Michael Nanchoff (Portland Timbers)
MF Lewis Neal (Orlando City SC)
MF Marco Pappa (Seattle Sounders)
MF Mauro Rosales (Vancouver Whitecaps)
MF Matt Watson (Chicago Fire)

FW Jairo Arrieta (D.C. United)
FW Bright Dike
FW Robbie Findley (Toronto FC)
FW Mike Fucito (San Jose Earthquakes)
FW Chandler Hoffman (Houston Dynamo)
FW Antoine Hoppenot (Philadelphia Union)
FW Jason Johnson (Chicago Fire)
FW Danny Mwanga (Orlando City SC)
FW Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls)
FW Charlie Rugg (LA Galaxy)
FW Vicente Sanchez (Colorado Rapids)
FW Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids)
FW Maximiliano Urruti (Portland Timbers)

Are you surprised that any of the players available for the Re-Entry Draft did not have their contracts extended?

Manchester United given transfer scare as superstar travels to Madrid

Manchester United fans will be worried by the fact that goalkeeper David De Gea has flown home to Spain after being given time off by Louis Van Gaal.

De Gea flew to Madrid on Monday night in a decision likely to be based on seeing his family, though rumours of a move to Los Blancos will only pick back up because of it.

The 24-year-old shot-stopper has been in subliminal form this term and has been United’s Player of the Season. But he has yet to pen a new deal, with just one year left on his current contract, and Real Madrid are circling.

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The Spanish giants want De Gea to come in as the long-term replacement for Iker Casillas and although he has remained quiet on the issue, the United star is believed to be keen on the idea of a return to his homeland.

His future will be decided this summer as United will have to sell if he does not sign a new contract and a trip to Madrid before the season has even ended will do little to quash rumours that he on the way out of Old Trafford.

Will David De Gea still be a Manchester United player next season?

Manchester United looking to tie up three deals before end of season

Manchester United will look to give three stars new contracts following on from Chris Smalling‘s extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until 2019.

Smalling has become a first-team regular under Louis Van Gaal this season and has now made 147 appearances over the past five seasons with the Red Devils.

He follows Michael Carrick in signing a new deal with United and the club are now looking to sign David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young down to new contracts before the summer, according to the Telegraph.

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Spanish goalkeeper De Gea has been one of the Premier League‘s best players this season, but has been continually linked with a move to Real Madrid, and United will be desperate to get him to commit his future to the club in the coming months.

He has just over one year remaining on his current deal so if the Red Devils are unable to convince him to stay, they will likely cash in this summer to avoid him leaving on a free a year later.

Phil Jones and Ashley Young have both been key members of the team under Van Gaal and look set to be rewarded for their efforts with extensions on their contracts which are set to end next summer as well.

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As well as retaining current players, United are linked with several top talents across Europe, and they are believed to be leading the chase for Dutch winger Memphis Depay.

Van Gaal will look to bolster his defence this summer with Mats Hummels and Nathaniel Clyne both strongly linked with moves to Old Trafford in the next few months.

Should Manchester United offer new contracts to Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea? Where do they need to strengthen this summer?

Aston Villa receive DOUBLE BOOST as Vlaar set for stay and new signing on the way

Things are looking up for Aston Villa after a long and tough season for supporters. Tim Sherwood has turned things around and has guided the team to the FA Cup final following Sunday’s 2-1 win against Liverpool, and now the club have received further good news.

Star defender Ron Vlaar looks likely to stay at Villa Park, despite signs pointing to an exit with his contract up at the end of the season, and Sunday’s FA Cup success looks to have played a large part in the chances of that happening now.

While a new signing looks set to be arriving in the coming months as Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Bakary Sako is reportedly set to sign for Villa on a free when his contract expires.

Sako has scored 14 times for Wolves this season and has been in fine form over the past couple of months and has helped the Championship club’s push for promotion.

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Though he has not signed a new deal and will leave on a free at the end of the season, with Villa expected to be his next destination.

Vlaar’s contract is also up in the summer and despite being linked with a move to Manchester United for much of the campaign, the 30-year-old centre-back has admitted he could perform a dramatic U-turn and stay with Villa.

“Things have changed for me in the past few months since Sherwood took over,” the Dutchman told the Daily Mirror. “It wasn’t so good earlier in the year but that’s football – it’s crazy.

“The new manager came in and we all felt it was a new start. It’s never good when someone has to go but it felt like a fresh start.

“We started to play better. The results got better and the only thing that gives you confidence is winning games so this win will give us another massive boost.

“It’s been a hard season for me with all the injuries. Now I just want to play and be important for the team.”

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When asked if the FA Cup final would be his last game in a Villa shirt, Vlaar replied: “Yeah, maybe. But I don’t know.

“It’s hard to say. I want to win it anyway, no matter what. For the team, for the club, for the fans and for myself. Then we will see what happens.

“I don’t know about my future but to be part of this [FA Cup win] feels so good.”

How important is Ron Vlaar to Aston Villa? Wil Bakary Sako be a good signing for the club?

Liverpool legend urges Sterling to ‘forget contract’ and ‘just perform’

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes that Raheem Sterling will have a “long and successful career” despite the recent attention he’s received over failure to agree on the terms of a new contract with the Reds.

“He’s one of Liverpool’s best attacking players. But forget the contract and money, the best way to prove your worth and keep the fans off your back is just perform. Don’t tell people how good you are, show them,” Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday night football.

Sterling scored the first goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield last night, which leaves them four points behind fourth-placed Man City and keeps them in the hunt for a top four Premier League finish.

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But the 20-year-old is struggling to shake off the heavy criticism he’s been subjected to for not putting pen to paper on the £100,000-a-week deal he was offered, but Carragher thinks he will learn from the experience.

“There’s no doubt over the last six to 12 months, that in years to come he will look back on this period as a massive learning curve.

“You make mistakes at that age, I did, we all do. It’s just important that we learn from them. Raheem Sterling needs to be on the back pages, not the front pages.

“That’s a problem for him in the last few months, hopefully he learns from them. He’s going to be a great talent.”

Should Raheem Sterling sign a new deal for Liverpool or move elsewhere?

Real Madrid CONFIRM interest in Liverpool star

Real Madrid legend and B-team coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that the Spanish giants are watching Raheem Sterling‘s contract situation at Liverpool with interest ahead of a possible move this summer.

The England international has turned down a £100,000-a-week deal with the Reds and talks will not resume until the summer – by which point Sterling will know if he can play Champions League football at Anfield next season.

If the Reds fail to finish in the top four, it is looking increasingly likely that Sterling will depart with Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all linked.

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But it’s Madrid that could be the most attractive option for the 20-year-old attacker and Zidane has labelled Sterling as “one of the best young talents in the world”.

“We know who Raheem Sterling is, and of course we are monitoring him as a player,” Zidane is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.”

“There are very few players in the world who can improve the Real Madrid squad, so it is going to make sense we monitor the progress of the best young players in the world.”

Madrid usually get what they want when it comes to signing star names, and Zidane went on to mention that by comparing interest in Sterling to that which saw Gareth Bale, Isco and Raphael Varane all sign for Los Blancos.

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“We monitored Bale for over a year, the same with Isco and also Varane.

“We monitor many of the best young players in Europe, then if we feel they have something to offer Real Madrid we will contact their club and try and make the next step.”

Brendan Rodgers will be desperate to try and keep his squad together ahead of next season but has admitted that it will be difficult to attract big names to Anfield without Champions League qualification.

If you can’t get big names in, star players usually head out the exit door. Steven Gerrard has already got his move to LA Galaxy arranged, while Jordan Henderson is also being linked with a move away from the club amid interest from Chelsea.

Liverpool have slapped a £50 million price tag on Sterling’s head but will not want to see their young star leave as they look to renegotiate a new contract at the end of the season.

Is Raheem Sterling destined to leave Liverpool this summer? Would Real Madrid be the best move for him?