On the heels of a campaign in which Sacha Kljestan was a focal point in helping lead Anderlecht to a Belgian league championship, the club is hoping to lock up the U.S. midfielder for the long term.
Kljestan's current deal with Anderlecht runs through 2014, but according to Belgian outlet Het Niuewsblad, Anderlecht is looking to extend Kljestan's stay in Belgium for two or three more years beyond then.
This season, which has two games remaining, was Kljestan's second since leaving Chivas USA for Europe, and it has been his finest as a professional. In a regular central midfield role for Anderlecht, Kljestan played in 46 games (45 starts) and scored five goals, helping the club to the league title and a place in the UEFA Europa League's knockout round.
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SPECTOR FIT FOR BIRMINGHAM PLAYOFF
Jonathan Spector's return to the field for Birmingham City came at a crucial time for the club, trailing 1-0 on the road with a berth in the League Championship promotion playoff final on the line. It turned out to be a turning point for Birmingham, according to manager Chris Hughton, who opted to try and manage the deficit with composure in the midfield instead of push for the equalizer on the road.
"At 1-0 we’re still in with a chance, at 2-0 it’s a lot more difficult on Wednesday," Hughton told the Birmingham Mail. "Once you get to that stage there are two ways you can go. You can push very hard for the equaliser, or you make sure you don’t fall further behind. Bringing Jonathan in stabilized things. The ironic part was that was the period where we got our best chance of the game."
Spector had missed more than a month with a thigh injury before coming off the bench in the 74th minute of Friday's first leg, and he is fit and has been included on the roster for Wednesday's crucial second leg against Blackpool, with Birmingham needing to overturn that 1-0 deficit to advance to the playoff final against Spector's former team, West Ham.
EXTRA EUROPA SPOTS HANDED OUT
The FIFA Fair Play rankings for the 2011-2012 cycle are out, and Norway, Finland and the Netherlands have all benefitted by receiving extra berths in the UEFA Europa League.
As a result, the clubs that have accounted for the fewest red and yellow cards in those respective country's top-flight leagues will be granted a place in the Europa League's opening qualifying round. If those teams have already qualified for places in Europe, then the next team with the fewest amount of cards will be entered into the tournament instead.
Stabaek IF, the team that currently has Americans Ricardo Clark and Sean Cunningham on loan and is the parent club for on-loan Gent midfielder Mix Diskerud, is the beneficiary of Norway's extra slot.
TRAORE SIGNING WITH MILAN
Sought-after Nancy midfielder Bakaye Traore will be joining AC Milan upon the opening of the transfer window, according to reports out of Italy.
Traore, a 27-year-old Mali international, scored five goals in each of the last two seasons at central midfield for the mid-table Ligue 1 side and had been linked to moves to Newcastle and Marseille, among other teams.
Think Kljestan should sign a contract extension with Anderlecht? Do you think he should be called in for the upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers? Think Spector and Birmingham can overturn the deficit to Blackpool? Think Traore's game can translate to Serie A?
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