25
Jan

Juan Mata arrives for medical in helicopter

imagePhoto: Getty Images

The eagle has landed!

Juan Mata arrived at Manchester United’s training complex via chartered helicopter Saturday morning for his medical, which will finalize the club’s most expensive transfer ever at $61 million.

And obviously, everyone is really happy about it:

David de Gea didn’t waste any time getting a swipe in. He was a bit nicer when he actually greeted his new teammate for the first time.

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Gif via @BeautifullyRed

22
Jan

Real Madrid to raid Manchester United for Rooney

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While the potential Juan Mata move from London to Manchester grabs the headlines, it seems that a giant of football is waiting in the wings to capitalize. Mata seems destined for Manchester United, but could a star be shipped out to accommodate him?

It seems likely, and considering Real Madrid’s lure, who could forgive Wayne Rooney for having his head turned? He’s hankered for a move twice during his Manchester stay, but this January could finally see Rooney spread his wings and join a star-studded Bernabeu cast.

Also in our morning British paper round-up is an update on the Mata situation, a potential midfielder moving to Liverpool, Arsenal preparing a bid for Julian Draxler and plenty, plenty more at the click of a button.

21
Jan

Desperate United to make move for Mata

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As we mentioned in this week’s edition of the Rumor Mill, Manchester United are preparing to make a move for Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, who has been warming the bench for far too long this season. Will the Blues give in to temptation?

It’s a bumper edition today and we have lots of speculation surrounding United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Edinson Cavani, plus lots more all at the click of a button.

9
Jan

Defoe headed to the MLS, Mata to Madrid

Not content with shocking the world of soccer with the supposedly imminent signing of USA’s finest midfielder Michael Bradley, Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC are closing in on a move for another international, this time England and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe.

The striker has Premier League, World Cup and European experience, so should rip up the MLS if he joins. Elsewhere, unsettled Chelsea star Juan Mata is now on the radar for a return to Real Madrid, who he left as a youth star years ago. We think he’d fit right in.

You can read more on those two rumors, as well as many, many more, in a packed edition of Paper Chase.

8
Jan

Chelsea consider Alonso raid

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Jose Mourinho has confirmed over the last week that the door is open if Juan Mata and Michael Essien want to leave the club. The pair seem discontent at a bit-part this season and may leave in the next six months.

In Wednesday’s newspapers a possible replacement has been mentioned. Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso - who has already played in the Premier League with Liverpool - is interesting the Blues. The Spaniard is a free transfer in the summer and may be available on the cheap in the current transfer window.

For this rumor and the rest of Wednesday’s transfer gossip, click here.

31
Dec

Guarin nears Chelsea move; Mata wanted by Inter

Chelsea dominate today’s Paper Chase once again on the eve of the reopening of the transfer window. Speculation suggests Fredy Guarin is about to join the Blues, while Juan Mata could be heading in the opposite direction. It’s a bumper edition today, with interesting gossip surrounding Liverpool and Manchester United, plus the latest club to be interested in Atletico Madrid sensation Diego Costa. Click here for more and get ready for a month of mayhem!

20
Nov

Race heats up to land Real Madrid midfielder Alonso

Momentum is gathering in the bid to sign Xabi Alonso. The Real Madrid midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season and is free to talk to other clubs in January. Chelsea and Manchester United are both in the frame to land the Spain international, although Juventus are also said to e interested. We also have the latest on Chelsea duo Juan Mata and Ramires, so get reading by clicking here.

9
Oct

Special Inside Look: Spain’s Ciudad del Futbol

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Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer

MADRID, SPAIN

Wednesday evening in Madrid — and hundreds of kids are training at the Spanish football federation’s Ciudad del Futbol campus. Their sessions over, they grab a quick drink of water, then quickly gather in the small stand beside the suburban facility’s biggest pitch, to watch national coach Vicente del Bosque run his World Cup holders through their paces ahead of their crucial upcoming qualifiers for the 2014 finals.

The young spectators cheered and squealed as their heroes completed a light warm-up, then a series of ‘rondos’ — piggy-in-the-middle-style exercises where good technique is key and a sense of humor helps. Being a public session, no tactical secrets were displayed, but Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta had recovered from minor knocks to take part. Spain looks ready for the clashes with Belarus in Mallorca on Friday, and then Georgia in Albacete next Tuesday, when four points will seal qualification for Brazil next summer.

 If, as expected, Spain win on Friday, del Bosque may use the Georgia game for experimentation and give Swansea city attacker Michu a first cap. The Swansea attacker told reporters at the Cuidad de Futbol on Wednesday morning that he’d been a little awestruck at first when training alongside so many world champions — but was now ready to stake his claim for a regular squad spot.

Image provided by Getty

“When you step out on the grass, with the [World Cup winner] star on your chest, the sensation is indescribable,” Michu said. “I was a little nervous to be playing with the best players in the world, but you settle down quickly. I am here to make the most of the opportunity — and to help Spain qualify for the World Cup.”

The gap between Michu’s press conference and training left time to visit the impressive campus’ excellent museum — which shows visitors just what soccer means in Spain. The exhibits begin with a search for the sport’s origins in ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Mexico and Scotland, then fast forward to the early 20th century as young king Alfonso XIII oversees its introduction here.

Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres — dressed in period gear — guide you through a time tunnel to a 1930s pre-Civil War dressing room. Among the other life-sized dioramas is a 1950s film-set from when General Franco’s regime “persuaded” Real Madrid’s Alfredo Di Stefano and Barcelona’s Ladislao Kubala to star in feature length propaganda pictures.

Big sections cover the 1964 European Championships, which Spain won; and the 1982 World Cup, which Spain hosted but flopped at. The tour ends on a high — with the Henri Delaunay [European Championship] and Jules Rimet [World Cup] trophies on display, alongside jerseys and footballs from their victories in the last three major international tournaments. There’s also the actual 2010 final locker-room flipchart, with del Bosque’s detailed handwritten instructions for defending Holland’s set pieces.

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Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer

Once qualification is assured for next year’s tournament, del Bosque can ponder how to best retain the trophy. Selection decisions must be made on players including Michu, Casillas, Torres, David Villa, Carles Puyol, Juan Mata, Koke, Isco and – most controversially – Brazilian-born Diego Costa.

But all that can wait for now. Wednesday’s session ended with a friendly mini-game, before the sun set behind the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, and the players, children and journalists headed home for their suppers.

Another day at one of world soccer’s most important nerve centers — with Brazil 2014 on the horizon.