‘Taarabt’s Queens Park Rangers return would be incredible’, says former teammate Shaun Derry

A move for wantaway Benfica attacking midfielder Adel Taarabt by Queens Park Rangers ‘would be incredible’, according to former teammate Shaun Derry.

Reports emanating from Portugal, via Record, states that, given his deteriorating situation at Benfica, the Eagles are willing to help the player move out on loan in January, although a permanent transfer would be preferable by both parties.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man is, thus, considering a return to England – the Championship, precisely.

Since arriving at the Portuguese giants in 2015, it has been a downward spiral for the 29-year-old’s career. Last season, a loan move to Genoa – in hopes of making the deal permanent – to revive his career failed to yield expected results.

And this campaign has been nothing to write about for Taarabt who has yet to feature for the Eagles’ first team this season, neither has he been afforded a chance to turn out for the reserve sides.

With speculations QPR may be willing to have him on loan, Derry – who admitted ‘he was the best player’ he ever shared a dressing room with and shared his disappointment of the once highly-rated attacking midfielder – believes a deal for the ex-AC Milan player would be ‘amazing’.

“Well if he is linked with QPR once again that would be unbelievable,” Derry told Love Sport Radio’s QPR Fan Show.

“He was the best player I ever played with. He really was. He was individually brilliant and some of the things the fans didn’t see that he did in training everyday blew your mind. I’ve always said this.

“The question has always been asked about Adel. I’m so disappointed that he’s not gone and played at a big, big team for a long period of time, because talking about talent, he should have been in one of the top five or six clubs in the world.

“So, having him back at Loftus Road would be incredible, but he would have to be fit. The Championship has changed since Adel left.

“It’s a lot quicker and stronger and aggressive now, but to have him back in the blue and white hoops would be amazing.”

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‘They need a Van Dijk’ – Fletcher calls for Man Utd to sign a defensive leader

Ex-Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher insists that Jose Mourinho needs a defender who can have the same influence at Old Trafford as Virgil van Dijk has had at Anfield.

The Red Devils have endured a nightmare start to the 2018-19 campaign and currently sit a whopping 16 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, having won just seven out of 16 matches.

Mourinho’s men have been uncharacteristically lacklustre at the back, shipping 26 goals, a tally which is already just two less than they managed to concede during the entire previous season.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have benefitted hugely since Van Dijk’s arrival back in January, transforming into a well-balanced, organised and disciplined team capable of challenging for silverware across all fronts.

And Fletcher believes that United need to bring in a defender in the same class as the Netherlands international, who can lead by example at the back and bring the best out of his teammates.

“There is no doubt that some of these Manchester United defenders are capable but they need that figurehead, that leader who could guide them,” he told BBC Sport.

“A top class centre-half like Virgil van Dijk has accelerated the progress of players at Liverpool.

“When he’s not there they look questionable and that’s the difference that one top centre-half can have.”

Mourinho’s men were beaten 2-1 by Valencia on Wednesday evening in their final Champions League group stage fixture, having already booked their place in the knockout phase.

Phil Jones, Man Utd

With just two wins from their last seven games across all competitions, United are in danger of dropping out of the race for major trophies and a top-four finish, with a huge clash against Liverpool up next on Sunday.

Ex-Chelsea winger Pat Nevin agreed with his colleague’s assessment of the club’s current situation while also suggesting Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld as a possible January target.

“It’s not as if there aren’t enough good players at Manchester United,” he said. “You could make an argument that there are not enough good defenders at the very highest level, particularly in the centre.

“I always felt Manchester United should be up around the third place and it’s a real surprise they have not managed to do it.

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“Someone like Toby [Alderweireld] might have been probably good enough to do that.

“It’s amazing how much somebody like that can do because it just settles everyone else around them.

“You probably only need one top centre-back to be able to do that and Jose [Mourinho] needed a top quality centre-back.”


PSG? I haven’t decided my future yet – De Jong

Ajax star Frenkie de Jong insisted he was yet to make a decision on his future amid links to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

De Jong, 21, helped Ajax to a 3-3 Champions League draw against Bayern Munich, one of the clubs reportedly interested in his services, on Wednesday.

However, the Netherlands international midfielder, who is contracted in Amsterdam until 2022, said he was yet to decide on his future.

Asked if he had come to an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain, De Jong told Voetbalzone: “No, I definitely haven’t made a decision yet.”

Ajax and Bayern played out a thrilling draw in Group E, Nicolas Tagliafico’s 95th-minute equaliser cancelling out Kingsley Coman’s late goal after Dusan Tadic and Robert Lewandowski had scored braces and both teams were reduced to 10 men.

De Jong described the game as “crazy”, saying: “In the first half we were not good enough.

“We were a bit ill at ease because of the difference in formation. In the second half we had a different game plan, we played much better. Until the equaliser we reached a very high level.

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“We felt we could have won, but then there was the red card. They attacked more because they had an extra man. Then they had a red card, and the game was open again.

“It was crazy until the final whistle.”

Ajax advanced to the last 16, finishing second to Bayern in the group.


FC Cincy’s Koch: We still have interest in USMNT’s Johnson

As the club continues to build towards its first season in MLS, FC Cincinnati still has interest in Fabian Johnson.

Head coach Alan Koch admitted his side is still interested after pushing to sign the U.S. national team veteran over the summer.

The 31-year-old winger has made eight appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach this season.

“We definitely have interest in Fabian,” Koch told Sports Illustrated.

“We had interest, we continue to have interest. I think a lot of teams would be very wise to take that approach. We’re definitely exploring all sorts of different things.”

Johnson, who has earned 57 caps for the U.S., has spent his entire career in the Bundesliga. 

The winger, who represented Germany from the U-17 to the U-21 level before joining the U.S. program, made stops at 1860 Munich, Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim before joining Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer in 2014.

He went on to appear in that summer’s World Cup while becoming a key presence for the USMNT at both left midfield and left back.

“We have a lot of respect for Fabian. He’s playing for an excellent club in the Bundesliga, obviously having a good season, too,” Koch said.

“We’ll see. We’re not going to focus on one player, we’ll look at all different guys that we can try and acquire.”

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FC Cincy has signed a number of players from its USL teams and selected Darren Mattocks, Eric Alexander, Hassan Ndam and Roland Lamah in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft.

The club also made a splash by acquiring Greg Garza and Kendall Waston by trade on Tuesday.


‘The transfer market will be exciting’ – Bayern’s Salihamidzic coy on De Jong and De Ligt rumours

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic says both Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are “good players” following a thrilling 3-3 draw with Ajax on Wednesday.

The two young Dutch stars started and played all 90 minutes in Wednesday’s draw, which saw four goals scored after the 80th minute.

Dustan Tadic and Robert Lewandowski exchanged penalties in the 82nd and 87th minutes before Kingsley Coman’s 90th minute goal was canceled out by Nicholas Tagliafico in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

But after the match, much of the focus was on De Ligt and De Jong, who remain targets of a number of Europe’s top teams.

Both have been linked to Barcelona, Manchester City and several other clubs, including Bayern, with Salihamidzic praising the duo’s performance on Wednesday after recently refusing to rule out a move for the two.

“Both are good players and played a great game today,” he said, according to Kicker.

“We have to see what we need. We will analyze it calmly, but the transfer market will be exciting.”

Salihamidzic also discussed Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard, who has been linked with the German champions.

The French defender will be a difficult target to acquire, though, as Salihamidzic says Stuttgart’s current league standing will make a move unlikely.

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Stuttgart currently sit 16th in the Bundesliga as the club looks to stave off relegation.

“Stuttgart is currently in a difficult situation,” Salihamidzic said, “which I believe will be out of the question.”

Bayern finished atop the group, two points ahead of Ajax, as the club now look ahead to Saturday’s Bundesliga clash with Hannover.