Can Chicago Fire lure Bundesliga winger Jakub Błaszczykowski to MLS?

For many of the teams who haven’t participated in the latter stages of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the winter transfer speculation is already in full swing, as fans begin to wonder which trades will be made ahead of the 2018 campaign. Following Chicago Fire’s 4-0 Knockout Round defeat against New York Red Bulls at the end of October, they have already begun making enquiries about potential signings.

Chicago Fire concluded the regular season with a respectable third position in the Eastern Conference table, but despite also being the third-highest scoring team in MLS, their goal difference numbers took a hammering due to a leaky defence. Strengthening at the back will be a priority if the team is to push further for honours next year, but management are also looking at bringing in key attacking players.

One such attacking option is winger Jakub Błaszczykowski, with rumours initially surfacing in July and seemingly gathering pace. In November, there was further speculation in his home country, with the Polish international reportedly pondering his future options. Although one move apparently being considered is a return to his former club, Wisła Kraków, there appears to be a growing belief he is seriously considering Chicago Fire as his next destination; partly due to having family already living in the Windy City.

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However, such a move by Chicago Fire won’t be without inevitable difficulties. Błaszczykowski still has two years on his contract with current club, Wolfsburg, who have struggled to build any momentum in the Bundesliga so far this season. With more draws than either wins or defeats this term and sitting uncomfortably in mid-table, Bundesliga betting odds at 66/1 for a top-six finish have lengthened considerably, compared to the start of the campaign.

Wolfsburg could demand a transfer fee to release the 31-year-old from his contract, but after signing German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in March of 2017 from Manchester United, and with an option to extend his stay for another year, Chicago Fire have already shown they’re not afraid of splashing out on important signings. Błaszczykowski would undoubtedly be another important capture, if they can push it across the finishing line.

Something that could aid Chicago Fire in their pursuit of the Polish player, is his lack of action during the current Bundesliga campaign. Błaszczykowski has slipped down the Wolfsburg pecking order this season and also struggled with some injuries, making just five starts and two substitute appearances in the Bundesliga, plus two further appearances in the DFB Pokal. This is possibly a key factor contributing to the player pondering his future elsewhere.

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Undoubtedly the biggest hurdle facing the MLS club might be a desire to get a quick decision from the player. Ideally, they would want to have a move for Błaszczykowski done and dusted in the European winter transfer window, making him available for their 2018 preseason plans. Still a regular international with the Polish national team, their participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer could prove to be the deciding factor, at least in the mind of the player himself. He might feel his possibilities of featuring at the World Cup could be hampered, were he to accept an immediate offer from Chicago Fire, rather than stay in Europe and fight for his place at Wolfsburg for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. Much convincing and cajoling will be required on the part of the MLS club, if they’re to get their man any time soon. Otherwise, the speculation surrounding the future of Błaszczykowski looks set to continue for at least another couple of months.

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STATS: Was Jose Mourinho wrong to let these seven players leave Chelsea?

Chelsea‘s form has been a huge topic of conversation after each game so far this season for one reason or another, mostly down to below-par performances.

Key players are failing to provide quality in the same way they did last season, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa the subjects of heavy criticism.

Jose Mourinho has let some big names leave the club since his return in 2013, some of whom are enjoying great form in their domestic seasons with other clubs.

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With Chelsea under such pressure at current, it’s difficult not to ask whether some of those names should have been let go, so we took a look at some of those players’ statistics this season.

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 Former Chelsea players’ domestic league stats for the 2015/16 season (via Squawka)

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Petr Cech’s domestic league stats for 2015/16 as a goalkeeper (via Squawka)

Petr Cech comes out on top in terms of win percentage with an impressive 66.6% in the Premier League with Arsenal, which is 41.6% better than Chelsea’s overall win percentage of 25% in the top flight.

Romelu Lukaku, now at Everton, has bagged seven league goals so far this season. Chelsea’s highest individual goalscorer only has two (Diego Costa, Ramires and Willian).

The highest number of assists from those who have departed have come from Lukaku and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne on four. Cesc Fabregas, arguably Chelsea’s most creative player, has just one league assist after 12 games.

And perhaps most staggering is the fact that the highest number of losses suffered domestically out of the seven players is only three, four less than Chelsea’s worrying total of seven so far.

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While we are not suggesting Mourinho’s transfer policy is wrong, it is clear that his squad is lacking in creativity and goals this season. What we must not forget is that out of these seven players only Petr Cech and Andre Schurrle (departed January 2015) were in the Chelsea squad who won the Premier League last season.

But Chelsea fans would be forgiven for looking at the names in the table above and wishing they could bring them back to Stamford Bridge to try and turn the Blues’ campaign around.

Manchester City talks underway for £35m-rated former Chelsea star – report

Manchester City have started their summer transfer work as talks are ongoing with £35 million-rated playmaker Kevin De Bruyneaccording to talkSPORT.

The ex-Chelsea midfielder has attracted interest from top clubs all over Europe after an impressive season in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg and it is looking likely that he is set for a big money move in the coming months.

The Belgian superstar has found the net ten times and notched 19 assists as he has helped Wolfsburg secure a Champions League place for next season.

Patrick De Koster, De Bruyne’s agent, told talkSPORT that City have confirmed their interest but they are not alone in their pursuit of the talented 23-year-old midfielder.

“Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have made informal contact with me, but there have been no official offers,” De Koster said.

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“The situation has now changed with Wolfsburg qualifying for the Champions League next season, so wherever he plays next season it will be in the Champions League.”

De Koster hasn’t revealed too much on where De Bruyne will be playing next season, but insists it will be a Champions League club and the choice of club is with his client.

“If Wolfsburg decide to sell Kevin, then he will have a choice of clubs who can win their domestic league and challenge for the Champions League as well. The choice is his.”

City will be looking to rejig their squad this season after a difficult and frustrating campaign on all fronts and if they can secure De Bruyne it will be a step in the right direction to rebuild.

It looks as if Yaya Toure will be moving on amongst others but De Bruyne will face tough competition for a number-ten role with David Silva enjoying another successful season at the Etihad.

Would Kevin De Bruyne be a good signing for Manchester City? Is he what they need?

Southampton looking to bolster squad with signing of Real Madrid forward

Southampton are reportedly interested in signing out-of-favour Real Madrid striker Javier Hernandez, who is currently on loan from Manchester United.

Hernandez joined Los Blancos on a season long loan from Manchester United in September but has been frustrated with the lack of playing time in such a competitive squad.

He has made just 13 appearances for Madrid this season, 12 of which have come from the bench and the Mexican has scored three times.

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The Daily Mirror are reporting that Southampton are interested in bringing Hernandez in to bolster their current frontline, which boasts the likes of Saido Mane, Shane Long, and Graziano Pelle.

The Saints are said to be in tough competition to sign the 26-year-old forward from Premier League rivals Manchester United though, with the likes of Stoke, Wolfsburg and both Inter and AC Milan reported to be interested.

Hernandez has the potential to score bags of goals given the chance of a lengthy run in the side. His Premier League experience makes him ideal for any top flight club chasing him.

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He has scored 37 goals in 102 Premier League games, and more than half of those games have seen him start on the bench.

It doesn’t look likely that Hernandez will return to the Manchester United setup on a permanent basis and many clubs would relish the chance to sign him.

Southampton have enjoyed a fine season under Ronald Koeman and are just six points off fourth spot with eight games to play.

Would Javier Hernandez be a good signing for Southampton?

Chelsea, United and City to battle for Europe’s most creative midfielder

Former Chelsea playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is being chased by three Premier League clubs after impressing with Wolfsburg this season and the Blues are joined by Manchester United and Manchester City in their £40 million pursuit for the Belgian star.

De Bruyne has been the most creative midfielder in Europe this season after racking up an incredible 24 assists in 39 games across all competitions with Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, who he joined from Chelsea for £18 million in January 2014.

He has only been with Wolfsburg for 14 months but is already being tipped to move again and the Premier League trio will have to fight Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain for the 23 year old’s signature.

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De Bruyne is reportedly keen on a move back to Chelsea, despite the fact he struggled to see much game time under Jose Mourinho, and ESPN are reporting that the talented playmaker could return to Stamford Bridge this summer.

Any move is likely to depend on whether Wolfsburg qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. They have two chances to do as they currently sit second in the Bundesliga table behind Bayern Munich, and are also in the Europa League quarter-finals. The Europa League winners will automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League and Wolfsburg are currently the tournament favourites.

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Manchester City are also keen and director of football Txiki Begiristain has already met with the player’s representatives, according to the Daily Mail. City are willing to spend £40 million on the Belgian star as they look to challenge Chelsea for next season’s Premier League by revamping their squad over the summer.

Meanwhile, a report by talkSPORT claims that Manchester United are the front-runners in the race to sign De Bruyne and are willing to splash the cash to land the former Chelsea man.

All three Premier League giants could still be beaten to the player however, as Bayern Munich have already prepared a £35 million offer, while Paris Saint-Germain are monitoring the situation closely.

Kevin De Bruyne could find himself at the centre of Europe’s biggest transfer battle this summer and after contributing to 38 goals in 39 games in all competitions for Wolfsburg, it’s hardly a surprise.

Chelsea star feels Mourinho could have made mistake with De Bruyne

Eden Hazard believes Kevin De Bruyne possessed the quality required to succeed with Chelsea and his comments in L’Equipe suggest he feels Jose Mourinho was wrong to sell him to Wolfsburg.

“He is a great player,” Hazard said. “Mourinho decided to let him go and not play him.

“It was not my decision, even though I know very well that he could play at Chelsea because he has tremendous qualities.”

De Bruyne has an impressive tally of 16 assists in the Bundesliga this season along with nine goals for Wolfsburg, and he could have been the creative attacking spark Chelsea have needed in these past few weeks as they have been somewhat off the boil.

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“I think at Chelsea, you have more pressure than Wolfsburg,” Hazard added. “It’s a shame he’s gone but he’ll have a successful career.”

De Bruyne never really got a look in at Chelsea before Mourinho decided to cash in on the starlet, playing just three times, and now has some of the biggest clubs in Europe chasing him.

Did Jose Mourinho make a mistake by selling Kevin De Bruyne?

Arsenal, Man United & Chelsea face tough battle for Real Madrid star

Germany World Cup winner and Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has finally confirmed he will leave Los Blancos at the end of the season after five years in the Spanish capital.

The defensive midfielder has been restricted to just 11 appearances this season due to injuries that have troubled him since November 2013. He returned towards the end of last season to play a part in Madrid’s tenth European title (La Decima) and his country’s World Cup triumph in Brazil.

It’s no secret Real have tried to tie him down to a new contract but Khedira has rejected the contract offers and in December he said, “if we can reach a solution, I’ll be very happy.” But now it seems Khedira is all but gone from Madrid.

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“I will give everything for this shirt until the last day of my contract, there should be no doubt about that. 

“It’s not a decision against Real Madrid. I want to find new challenges for my career and continue to grow as a player,” Khedira told Spanish newspaper Marca.

The German has lost his place in the Real Madrid starting lineup with Carlo Ancelotti preferring Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the heart of the midfield.

The news is sure to alert a whole host of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. The Gunners have been known to be huge admirers of the in-demand midfielder and his best friend Mesut Ozil plays at the Emirates.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho brought Khedira to Real Madrid in 2010 and would love to be reunited with him.

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The former Stuttgart man has also been linked with a move back to his homeland with interest from Bundesliga clubs Bayern Munich, Schalke and Wolfsburg. But Khedira says he is yet to reach a deal with anyone over his future.

“I don’t have an agreement with any club nor any preferences as to who I would like to join,” Khedira told Kicker.

If Khedira is to leave this summer, it would surely be one of the biggest bosman transfers in recent years.