Thursday Kickoff: Arsenal finalizing Higuain transfer; Moyes appoints Giggs as player-coach; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Arsenal finalizing Higuain transfer; Moyes appoints Giggs as player-coach; and more

South American Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Arsenal finalizing Higuain transfer; Moyes appoints Giggs as player-coach; and more

HiguainRealMadrid3 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

To the delight of many fans, Arsenal are nearing the completion of their second signing of the summer.

Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain is set to travel to London for a medical, before signing his contract with the English club, according to reports in England. The player’s father, Jorge, has been quoted saying that talks between Arsenal and Real Madrid are in advanced stages.

The reports state that the transfer fee will amount to £23 million (approx. $35 million), breaking easily the transfer record for Arsenal, who spent a reported £15 million on Andrei Arshavin in 2009.

Higuain announced at the end of the season that he would move clubs, frustrated at having to play second fiddle to Karim Benzema in the striker pecking order. Last season, the Argentine international scored 18 goals in 44 appearances in the Spanish capital.

Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:

GIGGS AND NEVILLE JOIN UNITED COACHING STAFF

Ryan Giggs may be playing his final season of professional soccer in 2013-2014.

The 39-year-old Manchester United midfielder was named on Thursday a player-coach by manager David Moyes. Giggs first joined Manchester United as a 16-year-old in 1989, turning professional the next year.

“It’s a great privilege to be appointed a player/coach,” Giggs said in a statement. “I hope I will be able to bring my experience to bear, having been both a player and part of the Manchester United family for so long. It’s no secret that I have been taking my qualifications and I see this as the first step in my future career. I’m really looking forward to working alongside David and the team.”

The former Welsh international signed a one-year contract extension last March with the club, and has scored 168 goals in 941 appearances in all competitions. In addition Giggs has won 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and two Champions League trophies.

Giggs will likely be joined in the coaching ranks by former United teammate Phil Neville, who is expected to be named first-team coach. Neville played the last eight seasons for Moyes at Everton.

NEWELL’S OLD BOYS TAKE DOWN RONALDINHO AND MINEIRO

After taking a month long break for the Confederations Cup, the Copa Libertadores has sprung back to action with two semifinal matches.

Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina defeated Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, 2-0, at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa in Rosario. Maxi Rodriguez opened the scoring for the Torneo Final winners with a header just outside the six-yard box in the 61st minute, before teammate Ignacio Scocco scored on a free kick from 30 yards away that slipped under the Mineiro goalkeeper as he dove to save it.

In the other semifinal match, Paraguayan side Olimpia topped Colombia’s Santa Fe, 2-0, in Asuncion, putting the El Decano one step closer from their first final in 11 years.

Miranda scored the game-winning goal from the penalty spot, beating the goalkeeper to his right, while eerily like the other semifinal match, Olimpia scored in the 81st minute from close range to double up the lead at home and send their fans into ecstasy.

The Copa Libertadores continues next Tuesday and Wednesday.

CHELSEA AGREE FEE WITH VITESSE FOR VAN GINKEL

Another of Europe’s brightest stars will be heading to Stamford Bridge this summer.

Chelsea announced on Thursday that they have come to terms with the transfer of Vitesse midfielder Marco Van Ginkel, reported to be in the region of £8 million. The 20-year-old has been rumored to be headed to the Premier League some time, and his stock only went up after top performances with the Netherlands at this summer’s Euro Under-21 Championship in Israel.

Van Ginkel, who has already won one cap with the Netherlands senior national team, becomes Chelsea’s second signing of the summer. Last month the club signed Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen.

Last season at Vitesse, Van Ginkel was named the Dutch young player of the season for his performances, scoring 12 goals in 41 games in all competitions.

QUICK KICKS

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has had his ban for shouldering a referee after a match extended from nine months to 13 months. (REPORT)

Mario Gomez’s proposed move to Fiorentina from Bayern Munich slowed down as a result of the Italian side not having enough funds currently to complete the German’s transfer fee. (REPORT)

Barcelona youngster and Spain Under-20 star Gerard Deulofeu is considering Premier League loan offers from Everton and Tottenham for the upcoming season. (REPORT)

Peruvian international Claudio Pizarro has signed a one-year contract extension with Bayern Munich. (REPORT)

In a surprising move, Antonio Cassano, once a member of the Italian National Team, has moved from Inter Milan in a permanent transfer to Parma. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? How do you see Higuain fitting in Arsene Wenger’s system? Do you see Giggs retiring at the end of this season? Do you believe Van Ginkel can get minutes in Chelsea’s first team?

Share your thoughts below.

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