Seeking gasoline for the fire, Man Utd eyeing Arnautović and Rabiot

United clearly needs some help on the field, but the pair’s off-field issues could spell trouble

It’s clear that Manchester United needs to make some signings before the transfer window closes. But are these the players a club already in turmoil needs?

On Monday, two players with a checkered past were widely linked with a move to Old Trafford: Marko Arnautović and Adrien Rabiot.

Could United use the pair on the field? Sure.

Erik ten Hag’s first game as head coach did not go as planned, with Brighton upsetting United 2-1 at Old Trafford. Arnautović, though now 33 years old, scored 14 times in Serie A for Bologna last season. And as United fans and pundits continue to bemoan the “McFred” midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred, Juventus midfielder Rabiot would be a welcome jolt of quality.

Arnautović and Rabiot controversies

There may be a reason both Arnautović and Rabiot appear to be available at this late stage of the transfer window. In addition to abundant talent, both bring along controversial pasts.

Rabiot has been banned from playing for both France and PSG in the past. The midfielder was called in to France’s 2018 World Cup squad on standby, and refused the call. It would be more than two years before he played for his country again.

Meanwhile, PSG told Rabiot his services were not required for the second half of the 2018-19 season after he was pictured at a nightclub hours after a Champions League defeat by Manchester United, which was followed by him liking a tweet from Patrice Evra which celebrated PSG’s defeat.

Arnautović, meanwhile, has an equally controversial background. He was suspended from last summer’s European Championship for an allegedly racist goal celebration. It was not the first time he’s been accused of racism.

He’s clashed with several managers, though Ten Hag may think he has the ability to get the best of the striker having previously worked with him during their time together at FC Twente.

But Ten Hag will be wary of adding one, or both of Arnautović and Rabiot into a dressing room that already is dealing with the continuing saga of Cristiano Ronaldo’s future.

United faces a tricky away match at Brentford next, followed by a home game against Liverpool a week later. Facing the real possibility of being on one, or even zero points after three weeks, United may now feel forced to look for help in any place they can get it.

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OK, maybe Erling Haaland won’t be a huge bust after all

The Premier League is officially on notice

Bad news for anybody hoping Manchester City won’t win another Premier League title this season: Erling Haaland is still pretty good!

Haaland had a difficult start to his City career last weekend, touching the ball just 16 times against Liverpool in the Community Shield and missing an absolute sitter at the end of the game.

Perhaps it would take the prolific Norwegian a little more time than expected to settle into life in England after a move from Borussia Dortmund in the offseason.

But on Sunday, in his Premier League debut, Haaland looked much more like, well … Haaland.

The 22-year-old scored both goals in Man City’s 2-0 win over West Ham, looking generally terrifying throughout.

Haaland won and converted a penalty for City’s opener and then – in perhaps the most ominous sign for City’s rivals – he showed the beginning of what could be a devastating combination with Kevin De Bruyne, who played Haaland in behind West Ham’s defense for City’s second.

After the game, the notoriously goal-hungry Haaland sounded far from satisfied with his brace.

“It was good. [It was a] good start there is nothing much to say other than that and it was 2-0. Good to get some minutes in the legs early in the season and we have to keep going,” he told Sky Sports.

When asked if he could have had a hat trick, he added: “Yes. I should have been there [to connect with Ilkay Gundogan’s cross]. It’s sh––, but that’s how it is!”

Haaland concluded: “Also now it is almost 30 minutes since I scored the last goal so I have to keep going.”

The Premier League is officially on notice.

Watch Haaland’s debut double for Man City

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Brenden Aaronson doesn’t quite score Leeds winner in Premier League debut

PL Goal Accreditation Panel won’t let folks have some fun

Brenden Aaronson started his Premier League career with a bang, being heavily involved on both goals as Leeds came back to beat Wolves 2-1 at Elland Road on Saturday.

Jesse Marsch gave Aaronson and fellow U.S. men’s national team midfielder Tyler Adams starts as Leeds started the season off with a win. After last season’s final-day escape, it’s exactly the kind of result they need to make sure the threat of relegation is much lower this time around.

Aaronson was initially credited with Leeds’ 74th minute winner, a move that kicked into high gear when Adams turned upfield and split the defense, bypassing three Wolves midfielders.

Mateuz Klich tidily kept play moving upfield, slipping Patrick Bamford into space on the left, and from there the striker crossed low for the onrushing Aaronson to fire home what stood as the match-winning goal.

But wait! The Premier League decided Aaronson and USMNT fans couldn’t have a perfect opening day, as they eventually ruled that Wolves defender Rayan Ait-Nouri actually got the final touch. Just like that, Aaronson’s debut goal became an own goal.

Aaronson was also a major factor on Leeds’ first goal, though he won’t get credit for an assist. Leeds had an attack break down inside the Wolves box, only for Aaronson to show the tenacity Leeds was looking for when they brought him in, re-pressing to win the ball back immediately. That pressure saw the ball pop loose to Jack Harrison, who teed Rodrigo up for a 24th minute equalizer.

Aaronson went 84 minutes on the wing for Leeds, while Adams played the full 90 as a defensive midfielder in his Premier League debut.

Watch Aaronson not quite score

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Ningún equipo quiere a Cristiano Ronaldo aseguran

Tal parece que la carrera de Cristiano Ronaldo estará lejos de la órbita de la Champions League o de un equipo de los top de Europa

El astro portugués Cristiano Ronaldo sigue sin equipo luego de expresar su deseo de salir del Manchester United para competir en la Champions League pero aparentemente nadie lo quiere y así lo aseguró una ex estrella de los Red Devils.

Jamie Carragher ex figura del Manchester United declaró que ningún equipo europeo está interesado en fichar a CR7 y desde su punto de vista ni el técnico Ten Hag lo quiere en el vestuario.

“Siempre pensé que su vuelta fue algo extraña, sentí que esta situación llegaría, incluso si Ronaldo lo hiciera bien. Así que, ahora la situación es complicada para el United porque otros clubes no lo quieren. Y creo que si le preguntas a Ten Hag, no creo que lo quiera. Y no estoy muy seguro de que el vestuario del Manchester United quiera a Cristiano Ronaldo en este momento”, dijo Carragher.

Sin embargo no dejó de recalcar el gran legado que ha conquistado Ronaldo con el United asegurando que lo que pase este verano en el equipo se olvidará en 20 años y solo se hablará de sus logros en su primera etapa con el equipo.

Tal parece que la carrera de Cristiano Ronaldo estará lejos de la órbita de la Champions League o de un equipo de los top de Europa y a sus 37 años tendrá que replantearse su futuro si quiere seguir jugando futbol de manera profesional.

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Christian Benteke leaves Crystal Palace for MLS in club record deal for D.C. United

Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has joined Wayne Rooney at D.C. United after the clubs reached a deadline day deal.

Christian Benteke is heading to D.C. United, as the MLS club announced a deadline day move to acquire the Belgium striker from Crystal Palace.

Benteke, 31, will be available to play for Wayne Rooney’s side once his International Transfer Certificate and U.S. work visa are approved. His contract runs through the 2024 season, with a club option for 2025.

“Christian is a top player who has played at the highest level for a long time,” said Rooney in a club statement announcing the move. “His experience and ability to score goals and help the team will be invaluable. It’s exciting for the team and myself to get him in and playing. He will make a huge difference.”

With 45 caps for Belgium and 280 Premier League appearances, Benteke will be expected to be one of the most dangerous strikers in MLS once United can put him on the field. Still, the move comes after a rough patch with Palace, where Benteke began the 2021-22 season as the club’s first-choice striker only to fade into a substitute role due to poor finishing form. His last Premier League goal came in November of 2021, and he only appeared in four of Palace’s final 16 games of the season.

That said, in the 2020-21 season, Benteke scored 10 goals for Palace, a rate that points to having the quality to help an MLS team in need. United sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and are 27th out of 28 teams. 19 teams have scored more goals than the Black-and-Red this season, though the presence of Taxi Fountas (11 goals) and Ola Kamara (8) has left them less in need of a goalscorer than better play at the back.

“We are getting an elite striker in Christian and completing this signing on transfer deadline day is a huge accomplishment for the club,” said United GM Lucy Rushton in a team statement. “Christian is a dynamic forward who has scored goals at the highest levels. His strength and power will make him a focal point of our team and his ability to link-up play will be a valuable asset to us. We are excited to get Christian integrated with the team so he can make an immediate impact on the field in the final stretch of the season.”

How will Benteke fit in with D.C. United?

Rooney’s plans for Benteke surely include a partnership with the electric Fountas, but how that will look remains to be seen. Since Rooney officially signed on as the team’s new head coach, they have played out of a 4-2-3-1 formation, then a very fluid 4-4-2, and on Wednesday night used a 4-3-3 that Rooney hinted was tailored for Charlotte FC.

For most of 2022, United has been a high-pressing team, but under Rooney, they have dropped their lines off and seem more ready to find a big center forward’s feet (having traded to acquire another target man, Miguel Berry, earlier in the transfer window) than the previous, more vertical approach.

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Matt Miazga’s Chelsea odyssey finally ends as defender joins FC Cincinnati

The USMNT defender made just two appearances for Chelsea after joining in 2016

Matt Miazga has finally ended his Chelsea spell after six and a half years, returning to MLS to join up with FC Cincinnati on a deal through 2025 with an option for a further season.

Miazga will not be a Designated Player for Cincinnati, which landed the defender by virtue of their spot atop the league’s Allocation Order.

Miazga moved to Chelsea in 2016 after breaking through with the New York Red Bulls, but made just two senior appearances for the Blues while going on loan to five different teams.

Now 27, Miazga returns to MLS in search of a permanent home for the first time in several years.

“I’m really excited to join FC Cincinnati,” Miazga said in a club announcement. “It’s a pleasure to be back in the United States and be able to compete in MLS again. The project here in Cincinnati is something that has drawn me here, and I want to say a special thank you to Jeff Berding, Chris Albright and Pat Noonan, who were all a big part of me coming to FCC. I can’t wait to meet all the amazing supporters, who I’ve heard so many good things about, at TQL Stadium.”

Last season saw Miazga go on loan to Alavés, but he struggled for playing time as the team was relegated from La Liga.

Prior to that spell in Spain, the defender had spent time on loan with Vitesse, Nantes, Reading and Anderlecht.

Miazga has been capped 22 times with the U.S. men’s national team, but has not made an appearance since June 2021.

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Chelsea signs Marc Cucurella, trolls Brighton in the process

One “CLUB STATEMENT” tweet deserves another

Chelsea couldn’t help but sneak in a little dig at Brighton when announcing the signing of Marc Cucurella on Friday.

The Spanish defender moved from Brighton to Chelsea in a deal worth up to £62 million. The transfer had been reported to be in the works for some time and on Wednesday, several media outlets confirmed that the move had been agreed.

Brighton, though, took umbrage with those reports and issued a strongly worded statement that began, as all serious statements do, with an all-caps “CLUB STATEMENT.”

Even after that statement, it seemed that a move was still only a matter of when, not if. And so it proved on Friday when Chelsea confirmed the deal with a cheeky nod toward Brighton’s statement from two days prior.

Well played, Chelsea.

Tuchel explains Cucurella move

As to whether the move for Cucurella works out on the field, that remains an open question.

Chelsea already has plenty of left-back options and would seem to have greater needs in other areas of the field.

At a press conference on Friday, though, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said that the 24-year-old can play in other positions and will take pressure off Ben Chilwell, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“He is a fantastic, young player,” Tuchel said of Cucurella. “Hungry, mobile, very intelligent player … Can play several positions in our system.

“It helps for Ben [Chilwell] to escape the pressure of ‘I have to deliver and we need you absolutely now.’

“We have, of course, also in this position Marcos Alonso, Kenedy and Emerson. Hopefully when things go through, Marc is the option in this position and he can play very well in the back three. It’s a profile of Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta), with the left foot. He gives us many options.”

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Premier League captains to limit taking a knee to specific 2022-23 matches

Teams will still kneel on five matchdays and before both major cup finals

The captains of all 20 Premier League teams have elected to stop taking a knee before every game, modifying the league’s frequency of anti-racism protests.

The Premier League said in a statement that teams will kneel before kickoff only on certain match days, which will include the opening and final round of fixtures, “dedicated No Room for Racism match rounds in October and March,” the Boxing Day matches that mark the league’s resumption of play following the World Cup, and during both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals.

“We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism and in so doing we continue to show solidarity for a common cause,” said the Premier League captains in a collective statement. “We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”

Players began taking a knee pre-game in support back in 2020 in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. According to The Guardian, the captains did not initially agree to a new course of action after discussions in July, but have done so just in time for the start of the 2022-23 season, which kicks off Friday, August 5.

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Ben Chilwell has no idea who Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey is

Christian Pulisic was in disbelief hearing his teammate’s lack of American soccer knowledge

This one may be tough for American soccer fans to swallow.

Chelsea left back Ben Chilwell has said he is unfamiliar with not one, but both of the men widely considered the two greatest U.S. men’s players of all time.

In a segment for Complex alongside USMNT star and Chelsea teammate Christian Pulisic, Chilwell revealed he does not know who either Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey is.

The nerve!

In the segment called “GOAT Talk” Pulisic was asked what his favorite World Cup moment of all time was and answered, as many USMNT fans do, that it was Landon Donovan’s dramatic late winner against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup.

“I don’t know who Landon Donovan is,” Chilwell said.

“You don’t know who Landon Donovan is?” Pulisic replied in disbelief.

“Is that bad? Is he like a big player” Chilwell asked.

“He’s probably the best ever American!” Pulisic said.

It would get worse though! Pulisic was asked his opinion on the greatest American player ever, and after explaining that there was a debate among fans between Donovan and Dempsey, he answered that he would pick Dempsey due to his history playing alongside the ex-Fulham and Tottenham forward with the USMNT.

“I couldn’t tell you who that is,” Chilwell said of a player who spent seven seasons in the Premier League.

Thankfully, Chilwell is able to name at least one American player.

Asked who his American GOAT was, Chilwell had an easy answer.

“I don’t know a lot of American footballers,” Chilwell said, stating the obvious, “but I know one who plays for Chelsea. His name’s Christian. He’s a pretty good footballer.”

Watch Chilwell and Pulisic’s segment on Complex

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Cristiano Ronaldo left at halftime of a preseason game. Erik ten Hag is not happy.

The ongoing saga at Old Trafford has taken another turn

The Cristiano Ronaldo saga at Manchester United took another turn on Wednesday, as head coach Erik ten Hag said it was “unacceptable” for the striker to leave at halftime of a preseason game.

After missing United’s tour of Thailand and Australia due to a family issue Ronaldo made his preseason debut on Sunday, starting against Rayo Vallecano before he was taken off at halftime.

With his services no longer needed, the Portuguese star decided to head out and was pictured leaving with Diogo Dalot – who, unlike Ronaldo, was not in the squad on the day.

Asked if he was comfortable with his Ronaldo leaving, Ten Hag told Viaplay Sport: “He was not the only one who left after halftime, I tell them (the players) that it’s unacceptable. That we are a team, and that you need to stay right until the very end.”

Ronaldo’s search for a new team

Transfer rumors have been swirling around Ronaldo all summer, with the 37-year-old reportedly looking to leave Old Trafford after only making his return last summer.

Ronaldo is in search of a team in the Champions League, but has so far been unable to find a suitor. Several clubs, including Atlético Madrid and Bayern Munich, have publicly ruled out a move for the forward.

According to the BBC, United has continued to maintain that Ronaldo is not for sale.

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