2
Jan

Man Utd to break bank for Vidal

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The rumors keep rolling in for Manchester United supporters. A fortnight ago it was Wesley Sneijder, last week it was Atletico star Koke and Dortmund’s Marco Reus. Who will fill that midfield role now the transfer window has opened?

In Thursday’s English newspapers, Juventus’ Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal is the latest name to be linked with a move to Old Trafford. Vidal has been one of Juve’s outstanding players and one of the reasons they have won back-to-back Scudetto’s in recent years. It is certain United will have to break the bank for the midfielder, especially in the inflated January sales.

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

29
Dec

Man Utd deal for Koke back on

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Manchester United look set to do business when the January transfer window opens in a few days time. David Moyes has manoeuvred the Red Devils into a decent Premier League position after early-season criticism. If United can strengthen in the window they could yet have a say on where the Premier League title ends up this campaign.

The latest name to be linked with the reigning champions is that of Atletico Madrid star Koke. This is not a new rumor after it appeared United had pulled out of the race, however it now seems the deal could be back on. Moyes is desperate for midfield reinforcements and it seems the shoe fits here.

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

16
Oct

La Liga standouts could be headed to the Premier League

The recent influx of foreign stars to the Premier League has undoubtedly boosted England’s finest clubs to the pinnacle of European football. The link doesn’t seem to be stopping there too, with two more stars rumored to be heading across the border.

This time it’s Real Madrid wantaway striker Karim Benzema and Atletico Madrid starlet Koke on the radars of two of England’s heavyweights. Arsenal are eyeing the French forward, while Manchester United are keen on one of Spain’s new up-and-coming midfielders.

There are plenty more rumors from throughout the globe in today’s Paper Chase.

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.