Manchester City ThisClose to Signing Argentina’s Claudio Echeverri

Claudio Echeverri is the Man (City) of the hour…

Manchester City are closing in on the signing of the 17-year-old Argentine professional footballer, a midfielder, from River Plate, according to ESPN.

Claudio EcheverriMan City have held formal talks with Echeverri and are nearing an agreement for the midfielder.

If a deal is reached, it’s likely that Echeverri would be loaned back to River Plate until at least the end of the Premier League season. It would be a similar arrangement to the one which eventually brought Julián Álvarez to Man City.

Álvarez was signed from River Plate in January 2022 but remained in South America until the following summer. He made his Premier League debut in August 2022 and has gone on to win the Premier League title, FA CupChampions LeagueSuper Cup and Club World Cup.

He was also part of the Argentina team which won the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Echeverri, who sources have told ESPN was also receiving interest from Barcelona, is highly-rated and starred for Argentina at the under-17 World Cup earlier this month.

He has indicated to River Plate that he is unlikely to sign a new contract with his existing deal set to expire in December 2024.

City are not expected to make first-team signings during the January window but there could be departures from Pep Guardiola’s squad.

Kalvin Phillips is keen to move to find regular first-team football and is wanted by both Juventus and Newcastle. There has also been interest in defender Sergio Gómez and goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

The return of Kevin De Bruyne is set to give City a boost in January. The midfielder hasn’t played since the opening weekend of the season because of a hamstring injury but returned to training during the trip to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup.

Lionel Messi Leads Shortlist of Nominees for FIFA’s The Best Mens Player Honor

Lionel Messi is hoping to best his fellow professional soccer players…

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star leads the 12-player shortlist for FIFA’s The Best Mens Player nominees alongside Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé.

Lionel MessiMessi, Haaland and Mbappé are joined by Declan Rice, who is nominated after captaining former club West Ham United to Europa Conference League success.

Argentina’s national team captain, Messi, now playing for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, is aiming to win the award for a record third time having been given the honor in 2019 and 2022.

But despite helping Argentina to World Cup glory at Qatar 2022, Messi faces stiff competition from Manchester City forward Haaland after the Norway international scored 52 goals as Pep Guardiola‘s side completed a Premier LeagueChampions League and FA Cup treble last season.

Julián ÁlvarezMarcelo BrozovicKevin De Bruyne, Ilkay GündoganRodri, Khvicha KvaratskheliaVictor Osimhen and Bernardo Silva make up the shortlist alongside Messi, Haaland, Mbappe and Rice.

Voting for the eighth annual awards opened on Thursday on FIFA.com and closes in mid-October. National team coaches, captains, journalists and fans make up the list of voters.

Lionel Messi Leads 30-Player List of 2023 Ballon d’Or Candidates

Lionel Messi is back in the running for one of soccer’s biggest honors…

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star and Erling Haaland lead the 30-player list of candidates for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award after France Football magazine announced the nominees.

Lionel MessiMessi’s nomination comes a year after he was omitted from the shortlist. Should he win the men’s Ballon d’Or this year, it would mark his eighth time winning the award — the second most is Cristiano Ronaldo with five.

In February, Messi also won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award for a second time.

Ronaldo, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, didn’t make the cut for the first time since 2003.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 30.

Messi led Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup in December — the only major trophy that had eluded him in his 21-year career — finally claiming the trophy at his fifth attempt.

At the club level, Messi had a mixed year. He struggled at Paris Saint-Germain as the French side were dumped out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage for a second consecutive season, although he did help the side lift an 11th Ligue 1 title.

However, he ended his stay in Paris this summer, opting to join Inter Miami on a free transfer, where he has made an instant impact by helping them to win the Leagues Cup and claim a spot in the final of the U.S. Open Cup.

Haaland could provide Messi’s strongest competition for the award.

The Norway striker scored 52 goals in 53 games in all competitions as Manchester City clinched the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League titles.

The 23-year-old broke the Premier League‘s single-season scoring record with 36 goals in his debut campaign in England.

The striker also won a number of individual awards for his stunning performances, including PFA Player of the Year, Premier League’s Player of the Season and Football Writers’ Association‘s Men’s Player of the Year.

Unsurprisingly, players from Manchester City and Argentina dominate this year’s list of nominees. Seven players who helped City win the treble last season, including Haaland, made the shortlist, while there are four Argentine players, including Messi, who were part of their country’s third World Cup triumph.

Full list of men’s Ballon d’Or nominees:
André Onana – Manchester United/Cameroon
Josko Gvardiol – Manchester City/Croatia
Karim Benzema – Al Ittihad
Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich/Germany
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool/Egypt
Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid/England
Bukayo Saka – Arsenal/England
Randal Kolo Muani – Paris Saint-Germain/France
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City/Belgium
Bernardo Silva – Manchester City/Portugal
Emiliano Martínez – Aston Villa/Argentina
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – Napoli/Georgia
Rúben Dias – Manchester City/Portugal
Nicolo Barella – Inter Milan/Italy
Erling Haaland – Manchester City/Norway
Yassine Bounou – Al Hilal/Morocco
Martin Ødegaard – Arsenal/Norway
Julián Álvarez – Manchester City/Argentina
Ilkay Gündogan – Barcelona/Germany
Vinícius Júnior – Real Madrid/Brazil
Lionel Messi – Inter Miami/Argentina
Rodri – Manchester City/Spain
Lautaro Martínez – Inter Milan/Argentina
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid/France
Robert Lewandowski – Barcelona/Poland
Kylian Mbappé – Paris Saint-Germain/France
Kim Min-jae – Napoli/South Korea
Victor Osimhen – Napoli/Nigeria
Luka Modric – Real Madrid/Croatia
Harry Kane – Bayern Munich/England

Fabinho Joins Saudi Pro League’s Al-Ittihad from Liverpool

Fabinho is headed to the Middle East.

The Brazil midfielder has joined Al-Ittihad from Liverpool on a three-year deal, the Saudi club announced on Monday.

FabinhoFinancial details were not disclosed, but British media reported the Saudi Pro League champions paid £40 million ($51.33 million) for Fabinho.

Al-Ittihad posted a video on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, with the title “Tigers are permitted to pass” in reference to media reports suggesting the deal might be delayed due to the breed of Fabinho’s dogs which are prohibited from entering Saudi Arabia.

The video featured the Brazilian midfielder holding a tiger and saying: “I’m Tiger.”

“Today I leave my home. It’s been five years wearing this jersey and always with the greatest honour and happiness possible. I love this club. Thank you, Reds, for everything we’ve experienced together. You will never walk alone,” Fabinho wrote on X.

Fabinho will join Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and former Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante at the Jeddah-based club.

The Brazil international made 219 appearances for Liverpool since his arrival in 2018, and helped the team to the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Super Cup titles.

Fabinho was not always a regular for Liverpool last season after a loss of form. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has overhauled his midfield by signing Argentina’s Alexis Mac Allister and Hungary captain Dominik Szoboszlai, and the club is now searching for a holding midfielder to replace Fabinho.

The Saudi Pro League has become an attractive destination for high-profile players since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Al-Nassr last January in a deal reported to be worth around $220 million per year.

David de Gea Announces Plans to Leave Manchester United This Summer

David de Gea is ready for his next chapter…

The 32-year-old Spanish professional footballer has announced he’s leaving Manchester United this summer, saying that now’s the right time to undertake a new challenge in his career.

David de GeaThe goalkeeper failed to agree to terms on a new contract to extend his stay at Old Trafford and will leave the club 12 years after joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011. 

De Gea was close to signing a new deal, only for talks to collapse at the end of season. Sources have told ESPN that United are in negotiations with Inter Milan for the transfer of Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana.

“I just wanted to send this farewell message to all Manchester United supporters,” De Gea wrote on social media on Saturday.

“I would like to express my unwavering gratitude and appreciation for the love from the last 12 years. We’ve achieved a lot since my dear Sir Alex Ferguson brought me to this club.

“I took incredible pride everytime I pulled on this shirt, to lead the team, to represent this institution, the biggest club in the world was an honour only bestowed upon a few lucky footballers.

“It’s been an unforgettable and successful period since I came here. I didn’t think from leaving Madrid as a young boy we would achieve what we did together.

“Now, it’s the right time to undertake a new challenge, to push myself again in new surroundings.

“Manchester will always be in my heart, Manchester has shaped me and will never leave me. We’ve seen it all.”

De Gea made 545 appearances for United — seventh on the club’s all-time list — and was part of the team that won the 2012-13 Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson. He also won the FA Cup in 2016, the Carabao Cup in 2017 and 2023 as well as the Europa League in 2017.

In a club statement released on Saturday shortly after De Gea’s announcement, manager Erik ten Hag said: “It takes great quality and character to reach the level of even playing one game for Manchester United.

“To do it 545 times over 12 years is a special achievement, particularly in the goalkeeping position where every game puts you in the spotlight. To have won player of the year awards from both the fans and his teammates, each on four occasions, shows the level of his performance and he will always be remembered as one of the very best goalkeepers in the history of the club.

“I am personally grateful for the 25 clean sheets he helped provide last season and his overall contribution on the pitch during my first year at the club.

“All the players and staff send him our very best wishes for the next phase of his outstanding career.”

Rodri Makes History while Leading Manchester City to First Champions League Title

Rodri is celebrating history…

The 26-year-old Spanish soccer player, whose full name is Rodrigo Hernández Cascante, earned a spot in futbol history on Saturday night by scoring Manchester City‘s first ever goal in a European Cup or UEFA Champions League final.

Rodri, Manchester CityManchester City had failed to find the net in their first UCL final in 2021 when they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in Porto.

But Rodri, a midfielder, made the breakthrough after 68 minutes in Istanbul to open the scoring against Inter Milan.

Rodri hammered home from 16 yards after Bernardo Silva‘s attempted cross had been deflected into his path.

This was only Rodri’s second ever goal in Europe’s top club competition.

His first had come during Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their quarterfinal.

Saturday’s strike proved to be the only goal of the game as Manchester City went on to beat Inter 1-0 and complete a famous treble.

Pep Guardiola‘s class of 2023 are only the second team ever to be English champions, European champions and FA Cup winners in the same season.

Alejandro Garnacho Signs New Long-Term Contract with Manchester United

United Alejandro Garnacho stands…

The 18-year-old Argentine-Spanish professional footballer has committed his long-term future to Manchester United‘s after signing a new contract on Friday.

Alejandro GarnachoGarnacho’s new deal will see him remain at Old Trafford until June 2028.

“When I joined this incredible club, I dreamt of achieving my debut, playing at Old Trafford, scoring my first goal and winning trophies with this badge on my chest,” Garnacho said in a statement.

“I feel very proud and emotional to have experienced these moments already, together with my family who have supported me every step of the way.

“We are all humbled to have this chance to continue our journey at Manchester United and I have already begun to work on achieving the next set of targets and ambitions.

“The manager and his coaching staff have helped me to improve in every way, and with their support, I am developing each day to help the team to be successful.

“I am relishing the future and can’t wait to create more special memories with this group, in front of our amazing supporters.”

Meanwhile, United manager Erik ten Hag said the club will not allow the 18-year-old to miss the end of the domestic season to represent Argentina at the Under-20s World Cup.

Garnacho is thought to have asked to join up with his international teammates for the tournament, which Argentina will host between May 20 and June 11.

Garnacho’s involvement would have meant missing United’s final three Premier League fixtures against BournemouthChelsea and Fulham as well as the FA Cup final against Manchester City on June 3.

Asked whether Garnacho would join up with Argentina’s Under 20s, Ten Hag said: “No, we don’t release him.”

The winger has been sidelined with an ankle problem sustained in United’s 0-0 draw against Southampton on March 12.

Speaking after Thursday’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham, Ten Hag said Garnacho would step up his comeback on Friday.

“He will return tomorrow in team training, partial, and then we have to see when he can return totally in the team training and then back into games,” Ten Hag added.

Garnacho has registered four goals and five assists from 29 appearances across all competitions this season.

Manchester United & David de Gea “Close to Agreeing” to New Contract

David de Gea is thisclose to a United layover…

Manchester United is closing in on an agreement with the 32-year-old Spanish professional footballer over a new contract, according to ESPN.

David De Gea The goalkeeper is approaching the end of his current deal and could leave Old Trafford for free at the end of the season.

United, however, believe they are close to an agreement, which would see De Gea extend his stay while taking a cut in his basic wage but with larger performance-related incentives.

Most of the terms have been finalized although talks are continuing about how the contract is structured.

United also have the option of triggering a one-year extension to his existing deal which is valid until May, but there’s confidence at the club that fresh terms will be in place before that’s necessary.

De Gea has been Erik ten Hag‘s undisputed No.1 since the Dutchman’s arrival last summer, making 47 appearances in all competitions.

He has made more than 500 appearances since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011. He has won United’s player of the year award four times and lifted the Premier League title, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League during his 12 years in England.

Javi Gracia Named New Manager at Leeds United

Javi Gracia is ready to Leed

The 52-year-old Spanish football manager and former player has been appointed by Leeds United as the team’s new manager, according to the club.

Javi GraciaGracia, the former boss at Watford, replaces Jesse Marsch, who was fired on February 6 following seven games without a win in the Premier League.

“Leeds United are delighted to announce the club have agreed terms with Javi Gracia to become men’s first team head coach, subject to obtaining a work permit,” a club statement read.

The club confirmed that the Spaniard has agreed to sign a “flexible contract.”

Leeds, who have since failed to win in three subsequent games under the caretaker charge of Michael Skubala, are now 19th in the table ahead of Saturday’s game against Southampton.

Gracia has been out of work since leaving Al Sadd last year. He has also managed Malaga, Rubin Kazan and Valencia.

During his time at Watford, he led them to the 2019 FA Cup final, which they lost 6-0 to Manchester City.

Carlos Corberan was linked with the position at Leeds before signing a new deal at West Bromwich Albion. The club also had interest in Rayo Vallecano‘s Andoni Iraola and ex-Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder.

Edinson Cavani Reportedly Commits to Playing with Manchester United Through End of Season

Edinson Cavani isn’t leaving just yet…

The 34-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer has told Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick that he’ll stay at Old Trafford through the end of the season.

Edinson Cavani Cavani, who is out of contract in the summer, has been linked with a January move to Barcelona or a return to South America, but Rangnick has said Cavani has promised to stay until the end of the campaign.

“I told him that if it was up to me I would want him to stay,” Rangnick said.

“I had a conversation with him [on Thursday]. He came into my office and we spoke for almost half an hour and he told me he will definitely stay and would want to stay until the end of the season.

“Not only because I told him that he should stay or has to stay, he did it on his own behalf and he told me that I can rely on him to stay until the end of the season and give his very best and be a role model for the young players.

“If he should play from the start, he’s available and he’s happy to play.

“Even if he’s not playing, he will be trying to be the best possible role model for the other players and for me this is good news.”

United and Rangnick begin their FA Cup campaign with a home tie against Aston Villa on Monday.

The club have not won a trophy since lifting the Europa League under Jose Mourinho, and Rangnick has promised to pick a strong side against Steven Gerrard‘s Villa.

Villa have already won at Old Trafford this season — a 1-0 victory in September — and since Gerrard’s appointment have climbed to 13th in the table despite losing their last two games to Chelsea and Brentford.

A home game against Middlebrough in the fourth round awaits the winner.

“I’ve always been a big fan, supporter and admirer of the FA Cup,” Rangnick said.

“For me it’s a very important competition. We will definitely try to play with our best possible team in that game and a strong team. We take the game as seriously as we can and hopefully get one round further ahead but in order to do that we have to be successful against Aston Villa.