Wednesday Kickoff: Pellegrini free to leave Malaga; Barca in Brazil to complete Neymar deal; and more

Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Real Madrid

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Manchester City are inching closer to naming their new manager, with Manuel Pellegrini’s name coming to the top of the club’s shortlist.

The current Malaga boss has, according to reports out of Spain, been allowed to leave the club at the end of the summer, with reports stating that Pellegrini will sign a two-year contract to trade the sun-drenched streets of Andalusia for the rain-soaked driveways of Manchester. The 53-year-old Chilean lead Malaga to the Champions League quarterfinals this season, before bowing out in the thrilling second-leg match against Borussia Dortmund.

Pellegrini has plenty of big club experience, coaching some of the top teams in South America, including a run with Argentine power River Plate from 2002-2003 and then a spell as Real Madrid boss in 2009-2010, where he lead his team to 36 wins in 45 games.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:

BARCELONA REPS IN BRAZIL TO COMPLETE NEYMAR DEAL

When Neymar represents Brazil in this summer’s Confederations Cup, it may be the last time the locals see the 21-year-old starlet.

According to reports in Spain, Barcelona representatives are in Sao Paulo to finalize a transfer deal to bring Neymar to the Blaugrana. The report states that club director Raul Sanllehi is leading the Barcelona contingent that hope to wrap up a $154.5 million transfer deal before rivals Real Madrid and recently rumored Bayern Munich get their hands on the youngster.

The Barcelona delegation is hoping to finish the deal by Friday. In the meantime, Neymar is concentrating on the Paulista State Championship final, with the second-leg against Corinthians coming this Sunday. Corinthians won the first leg by a 2-1 scoreline last Sunday.

BLATTER THE LATEST TO CALL FOR WINTER WORLD CUP

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is now calling for a move to a winter World Cup when Qatar 2022 rolls around.

Shrouded in controversy, the Qatar World Cup 2022 bid was awarded by FIFA in December 2010, but since then, numerous FIFA and high ranking soccer officials have publicly stated their opposition to holding the World Cup in the summer in the Middle Eastern country due to the extreme heat.

According to a report from France, Blatter is now publicly siding with UEFA President Michel Platini about the importance to move the World Cup to more hospitable conditions in the winter. The 77-year-old made clear that they could play the tournament in the summer, but the conditions would take away from the overall party atmosphere that comes with holding a World Cup.

Blatter had previously said that a decision on the World Cup scheduling won’t come until 2016 at the earliest and that the request to change must come from the Qatar organizing committee itself.

HAZARD RULED OUT FOR EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL

Chelsea will be without one of their stars come Wednesday’s Europa League final vs. Benfica in Amsterdam.

Speaking to the press ahead of the match, manager Rafa Benitez officially ruled out winger Eden Hazard from taking part in the club’s second consecutive European final after suffering a hamstring injury. The 22-year-old Belgian international suffered the injury during the final minutes of last Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Aston Villa, forcing Chelsea to finish the match with ten men.

Since making his reported €32 million move to London from Lille, Hazard has gone on to make an incredible 62 appearances in the Chelsea blue in eight different competitions, from the Champions League, to the Premier League, to the Club World Cup last December. Hazard has also scored 13 goals in all competitions.

TER STEGEN, REINA LINKED TO REPLACE VALDES

This week, Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes made clear to the club that he’d like to leave this summer for another club, forcing the Catalonian club to begin evaluating potential replacements.

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been long-rumored to return to his former club, but another name that has refused to go away is Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. The 21-year-old already has made two appearances for the full German national team and is one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in the world, already winning the job between the pipes for Mönchengladbach for the last two seasons.

Reports out of Spain state that it would only cost Barcelona around €10 million to pry away Ter Stegen from his club, leaving the German as a cheaper and potentially better long term option than Reina or Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

FERDINAND CALLS IT QUITS FOR ENGLAND

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has decided to officially end his England playing career, finishing with 81 caps.

The 34-year-old center back hasn’t featured for the side since 2011, but as recently as this March made himself available for manager Roy Hodgson, before spurning the recall to rest a long-term back injury.

Saying that he wanted to step aside so younger players could get an opportunity with the Three Lions, Ferdinand steps aside just over 12 months before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The former West Ham youth graduate made his first appearance for England in a friendly vs. Cameroon in November 1997 at the age of 19.

Ferdinand represented his country at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and was on the bench in 1998 England without making an appearance.

QUICK KICKS

Queens Park Rangers forward Loic Remy has been arrested and questioned by the police in London for allegedly raping a woman in his apartment. (REPORT)

After 14 years in charge, Werder Bremen have parted ways with manager Thomas Schaaf by mutual consent. (REPORT)

11 time Greek league winner AEK Athens are set to drop to the third division of Greek soccer after being forced to declare bankruptcy due to spiraling debts. (REPORT)

Bayer Leverkusen boss Sascha Lewandowski will step down at the end of the season to take over control of the club’s youth system, leaving the stage open for former Liverpool defender Sami Hyppia to become manager. (REPORT)

Sampdoria President Edoardo Garrone has confirmed that young forward Mauro Icardi is headed to Inter Milan next season. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you feel Pellegrini is a good choice for City? Do you see Neymar moving to Barcelona this summer? Do you see the World Cup being played in the Winter in 2022?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Pellegrini free to leave Malaga; Barca in Brazil to complete Neymar deal; and more

  1. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Neymar is over-rated, Neymar is no Ronaldo or Rivaldo.

    • Sebastian Le Drew says:

      I concur… he’s exciting to watch, but he doesn’t scare me on an international level

  2. Reboot says:

    Allegations of rape are not usually “quick kicks” in my book, might want to rethink that bullet point.

  3. slowleftarm says:

    Odds that the 2022 WC is actually held in the US?

    • AcidBurn says:

      Zero point zero.

      The only thing that moves FIFA is cash, and the US will never pay it because unlike some countries who will accept “donations”, the US will never do so because of anti-bribery laws.

      Full stop.

      • Pico says:

        You seem to forget the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics fiasco my friend. We are not as holly as you think…

    • pgloerse says:

      0% – it will be in Brasil. FIFA are stubborn and will not move it.

      • wides says:

        He said 2022 … the Qatari WC … but the rest of the statement is accurate. They are stubborn and neither FIFA nor Qatar will want it to fail, so they’ll do whatever it takes to have the tournament.

  4. AcidBurn says:

    “Our technical report, which was available to all members of the executive committee before the vote, showed these problems.” Oh, I’m sorry, I guess the executive committee couldn’t find the report as they were too busy opening envelopes of cash to read it.

    This does set up an interesting power struggle when the clubs tell FIFA to pound sand and they won’t change their schedule.

    • 2tone says:

      Exactly. All of the leagues and top clubs hold all of the power with this now. In no way do I forsee the major leagues in Europe rearranging their schedules for a Winter WC.

    • Judging Amy says:

      I remember this issue coming up when the bids were going on. I remember the Qataris (and the FIFA bid committee once the bid had been awarded) promising there would be no winter World Cup. In fact, the committee members said a deciding factor in awarding the bid was the Qatari’s scale model demonstration of a stadium with air cooling technology that was going to combat the extreme heat. I believe one particular committee member said without that demo, Qatar doesn’t receive the bid.

      Awful, awful corruption in FIFA. Makes me sick when they push their “Fair play”, “Diversity/tolerance” initiatives. With what moral ground FIFA?

      • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

        +1000. You beat me to it. And with more detail than my memory served.

        I heard that preliminary engineering calcs have shown that a stadium scale closed air system to take air down 50 F (roughly 125-75) would require, essentially, small nuclear reactor’s worth of energy (exaggerating). As an alternative all the talk from the engineers is about “perceived temperature” influenced by shade and air movement. They are trying to limit stadium cooling to passive techniques and the solar energy generated onsite, and targeting an ambient stadium temp of about 90 F (See this Ted talk on Qatar world cup stadium cooling link to ted.com). Consider me skeptical. With all the talk about changing WC to winter, I’m not the only one.

        • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

          +1000. You beat me to it. And with more detail than my memory served.

          I heard that preliminary engineering calcs have shown that a stadium scale closed air system to take air down 50 F (roughly 125-75) would require, essentially, small nuclear reactor’s worth of energy (exaggerating). As an alternative all the talk from the engineers is about “perceived temperature” influenced by shade and air movement. They are trying to limit stadium cooling to pa$$ive techniques and the solar energy generated onsite, and targeting an ambient stadium temp of about 90 F (See this Ted talk on Qatar world cup stadium cooling link to ted.com). Consider me skeptical. With all the talk about changing WC to winter, I’m not the only one.

          • AcidBurn says:

            And don’t forget, after they build all these stadiums with this revolutionary technology, Qatar is going to dismantle them piece by piece and ship them to other countries to help “grow the global game.”

            It’s so far fetched that you can barely say it without laughing.
            Dollar Dollar Bill y’all…

    • ben in el cajon says:

      Well, if Western Europe would see the light and adopt the summer schedule of Scandinavia, Russia, North America, South America, Australia, and much of Africa, this would not be a problem.

  5. Hincha Tim says:

    Pelligrini is a class act and a first rate coach. I would hire him over Mourinho any day.

  6. EasyE says:

    How the hell is the potential Neymar deal in accordance with Financial Fair Play? Or is FFP not ever going to be enforced?

    • MMV says:

      The meeting is probably more like Barca and Santos talking about a transfer fee. As far as a contract, Neymar would simply be agreeing to a contract and he would sign some sort of agreement (pre-contract of sorts) that guarantees his signature when the transfer window opens.

  7. MiamiAl says:

    Neymar should go to the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola would be a good fit!

    • Some Galaxy fan says:

      Nah Neymar will be going to play with and learn from Landon Donovan. He will then replace him in a couple years.

  8. Mark says:

    Per the content above, Neymar will cost $154.5MM US Dollars. Eden Hazard, a player of comparable ability based on my understanding, minus the hair and a large portion of the hype, cost Chelski $41MM US Dollars.

    I’d go with 4 Hazard’s rather than one Neymar, cause what’s another $10MM at that point?

    However, if they do sell 2MM Neymar jerseys as Acidburn projects, and they just might, then I suppose you can make up for it, though I’d imagine Hazard has a sold a few jerseys himself. Of course, Neymar could prove to be a bust which would certainly be an unexpected twist to the narrative.

  9. bryan says:

    this is just insane. Blatter is being such a D to Qatar about this. FIFA picked Qatar, including Blatter, knowing full well it would be too hot in the summer. but Qatar stuck by their bid to host it in the summer. now, fast forward to today and Blatter is saying it should be in the winter. the thing is, like Ives points out, Qatar actually has to initiate that request. Problem is, if Qatar initiates it, since their original bid was meant for summer, Blatter said he believed it would open it up for the other 2022 bidders to appeal the decision as a result. effectively telling Qatar, “I know we picked you, but now we realize that was a mistake. So change your plans…but in doing so, you open yourself up to lose the bid. Sorry.”

  10. DC Josh says:

    Sepp Blatter makes me so mad, I don’t know how to convey my feelings without getting angry. But here goes…

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