Milos Degenek looking for World Cup boost with Columbus Crew move

Columbus Crew target Milos Degenek is hoping to use his move Stateside as a pre-World Cup career boost.

The Australia international center-back recently became a free agent after his contract with Serbian side Red Star Belgrade expired.

During his time at Rajko Miti? Stadium, Degenek won three league titles and a Serbian Cup and gained vast experience playing in the Champions League and Europa League.

Reports last week suggested Degenek – capped 33 times for his country at senior level – was on his way to Ohio to join the Crew for the 2022 MLS season, with the announcement of his transfer expected in the coming days.

For Degenek, it’s a move made with the World Cup in mind later this year. The Socceroos are currently third in their qualifying group, only enough to send them into a playoff with the top two going through automatically.

“Because the World Cup is on this year, I want give myself the best possible chance to stay fit, and obviously to prolong my career as well,” he said. “To go somewhere where it’s a fit and healthy environment.

“Where I’ve got the best support around me to give me the best possible chance to go to the World Cup and the best possible chance to play well for our country. That probably helped me a bit decide on where I’m going to play in the future.”

Degenek’s arrival in Columbus would be welcomed by a Crew outfit that struggled for defensive consistency in 2021, missing out on the MLS Cup Playoffs despite their status as defending champions.

The 6’1 defender would join Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams and the recently signed Jalil Anibaba among Caleb Porter’s center-back options.

The Crew open their 2022 season at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps on February 26.

Georginio Wijnaldum & Julian Draxler open to Spurs loans

Paris Saint-Germain midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Julian Draxler are open to being part of a loan swap deal that would see Tottenham’s Tanguy Ndombele or Dele Alli go the other way, 90min understands.

Spurs are keen to get club-record signing Ndombele off the books after an underwhelming two-and-a-half years in north London. After he was booed off by home fans in Tottenham’s FA Cup win over Morecambe, Ndombele has been training on his own and away from the first team.

PSG have emerged as contenders to take the France international on loan for the rest of the season and were searching for a player that they could send to Spurs in exchange for Ndombele or fellow outcast Dele. And 90min can now reveal that two contenders have stepped forward.

Wijnaldum, who has only been at the club since the summer of 2021 after a high-profile free transfer from Liverpool, would be open to a return to the Premier League and his representatives have informed Tottenham of his willingness to make the move back to England.

The Netherlands international came close to signing for Spurs back in 2016 – then managed by his current boss Mauricio Pochettino – but opted to join Jurgen Klopp’s Reds instead.

Draxler, who has been on the periphery of the PSG squad for several years now, is also an option for Spurs.

Elsewhere at Tottenham, Giovani Lo Celso is being shopped around after he was omitted from Antonio Conte’s squad to face Chelsea on Sunday.

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Premier League goals of the week – gameweek 23

Gameweek 23 is in the books now, and it featured a handful of strikes which will undoubtedly be in the conversation for goal of the season when the time comes.

Whether you wanted acrobatic strikes, long-range worldies or sumptuous set-piece routines, there really was something for everyone this week.

Let’s take a look at some of the best.

American import Josh Sargent hasn’t had an easy start to life in the Premier League, but he put his issues to bed as Norwich saw off Watford on Friday evening.

In a 3-0 win, Sargent netted twice, the first of which was a glorious little scorpion kick which dropped over the line after clipping the crossbar.

His second was a thunderous header, but compared to his first strike, there was no competition.

As well as some drone action, the Brentford Community Stadium saw some excellent goals on Saturday, starting off with this beauty from Joao Moutinho.

Some nice one-touch passing with Nelson Semedo gave Moutinho a route into the box, and with one touch to control the ball, the veteran midfielder unleashed a beautiful outside-of-the-boot curler to give Wolves the lead.

But 23 minutes later…

Brentford got themselves back into the game courtesy of this sweet strike from Ivan Toney.

Partner-in-crime Bryan Mbeumo whipped in a lovely free-kick towards the back post and Toney watched it every inch of the way, waiting for it to drop on to his boot.

A fizzing volley had spirits high once again, but it wouldn’t last long.

Ruben Neves just had to one-up his mentor Moutinho with this strike from range to win the game.

Seven minutes after Toney’s equaliser, Neves ran on to a pass on the edge of the Brentford box and, with two defenders charging at him, found the gap needed to smash the ball into the bottom corner.

What a day.

As far as first Premier League goals go, they don’t come much sweeter than this gem from Kyle Walker-Peters.

The marauding right-back took one touch to control a cut-back from Nathan Redmond, and stretched his leg out to bend a strike through two Man City defenders and past Ederson into the back of the Premier League leaders’ net.

It wasn’t enough to seal the three points for Southampton, but it was still the highlight of the match.

We’re ending with the pick of the bunch here. Take a bow, Hakim Ziyech.

The man known as The Wizard conjured up a real moment of magic for Chelsea against fierce rivals Tottenham, bending this absolutely sensational effort as far into the top corner as you could possibly imagine.

It was Ziyech’s first Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge, and he’ll do well to net a better one.

Ralf Rangnick sets Marcus Rashford challenge after West Ham winner

Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has told Marcus Rashford that he must maintain his prolific form if he wants to be viewed as one of the Premier League’s elite forwards.

Not a regular starter under Rangnick, Rashford has come off the bench to score in United’s last two matches, bagging the winner in this weekend’s 1-0 victory over West Ham United to take his tally to four for the season.

After the match, Rangnick reminded Rashford that there is a lot of competition for minutes in his favourite positions and told the England international what he must to if he wants to guarantee playing time.

“We have a lot of wingers, we have a lot of outstanding players in that position,” Rangnick explained. “Jadon [Sancho] was not available today but we have a lot of players for those two positions and Marcus is one of them.

“Right now, yes, he has scored twice in consecutive games when he came from the bench but, of course, his ambition is to play regularly from the start again.

“It is up to him. If he continually plays on a high level and keeps scoring goals, of course this is the best way to get back into the team and play from the beginning.”

Rashford has been behind Anthony Elanga and Mason Greenwood in the pecking order in recent weeks, but Rangnick was confident that the 24-year-old can force his way ahead of them and start regularly for United again.

He continued: “He is one of the top strikers in England. He is an English international who regularly played in the Euros.

“We all know what kind of quality he has. He has got almost everything that a modern striker needs. He has got the pace, the skills, he has got the size, the physicality of the striker and in the end it is all about confidence for strikers.

“I am pretty sure that those two goals have raised the level of confidence within Marcus. Now it is about taking the next steps and showing that on a regular basis.

“It is about continuity now. I think he can play a very important role for the rest of the season for us.”

WSL team of the week – gameweek 13

Gameweek 13 saw the WSL return to a full programme of fixtures after weeks of Covid-19 postponements, with no shortage of action and drama at both ends of the table.

Manchester United enjoyed a statement win over Tottenham to go within two points of the top of the table, while Reading continued their excellent winning run and West Ham brushed Everton aside. Arsenal and Manchester City also played out a dramatic draw in Sunday’s late kick-off.

Read on to see who made the cut for 90min’s latest WSL team of the week…

Megan Walsh (GK) – Brighton: The Seagulls stopper made five saves that proved crucial in frustrating the champions and securing an unexpected point. She has racked up 500 saves in WSL overall.

Ona Batlle (RB) – Man Utd: Always in control against in-form Spurs winger Jessica Naz, not giving her opponent much of a look in. Also got forward well as has become expected of her.

Victoria Williams (CB) – Brighton: Repelled everything that Chelsea could throw at her and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to clear the ball and preserve the clean sheet.

Steph Houghton (CB) – Man City: Rolled back the years with a fine performance that looked like it would be enough for a clean sheet and win against Arsenal until the late equaliser.

Kate Longhurst (LB) – West Ham: Carrying from her huge goal a week ago, the versatile Hammers star shone in a more conventional left-back role. She got forward to regularly cross the ball and was good defensively.

Emma Harries (RM) – Reading: The 19-year-old had a major impact and extended her team’s winning run with a volley to complete a 3-2 comeback win. She also won the penalty that got the Royals back level at 2-2.

Hayley Ladd (CM) – Man Utd: Put in an excellent box to box performance in her team’s win. She was good on the ball, was crucial in preventing Spurs gain a foothold and scored an important goal just before half-time.

Kim Little (CM) – Arsenal: Her passing helped give the Gunners the lion’s share of the possession against Manchester City, playing in both halves of the pitch. She was also key in winning the ball back.

Leah Galton (LM) – Man Utd: Getting back to her best form more consistently and marked another impressive performance with a goal. Rarely lost the ball and was a creative spark.

Dagny Brynjarsdottir (ST) – West Ham: Operated further forward than her usual midfield role and was reward with the killer second goal in her team’s comprehensive win.

Alisha Lehamnn (ST) – Aston Villa: Defended well from the front throughout and took her chance when it came in stoppage time to win the game and end Villa’s run of dire recent form.

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