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

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

South American Soccer

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.

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