By IVES GALARCEP
As if Manchester United’s nightmare season couldn’t get any worse, it is looking more and more like the club could be losing its best defender this summer.
Serbian center back Nemanja Vidic is in the final six months of his current contract and drawing interest from several top clubs, including multiple teams from Serie A.
Though David Moyes has been quoted as calling Vidic the best defender he has ever worked with, Manchester United has yet to reach an agreement on a new deal.
Losing Vidic would be a big blow for a club that hasn’t really found a dependable replacement for the aging Rio Ferdinand, who appears likely to leave the club this summer as well. With the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones not having the dominant presence of Vidic, Moyes could find himself on the market for a central defender or two this summer. Assuming he is still the manager at Manchester United.
Here is a rundown of some more stories from Thursday morning and late Wednesday to get your day going:
BARCA, REAL MADRID POST FIRST-LEG WINS IN COPA DEL REY SEMIS
Spanish powers Barcelona and Real Madrid took major steps toward a seemingly inevitable meeting in the Copa Del Rey final after posting strong home victories in their semifinal first legs on Wednesday.
Barcelona posted a 2-0 victory against Real Sociedad, with a Sergi Busquets goal, and a comical Real Sociedad own goal, proving the difference in a match that saw Sociedad play down a man for more than half the match due to a first-half red card. Perhaps the most surprising sight at the match was that of empty seats in a half-empty Camp Nou, which led at least one Barcelona player to criticize the Barcelona fans who failed to turn out.
Real Madrid ran out 3-0 winners against Atletico Madrid in their Derby semifinal first leg, with two of Real Madrid’s goals coming courtesy of fortunate deflections. The clash of Madrid clubs was a physical affair that saw plenty of ugly challenges and physical play, as well as claims of racial abuse aimed at Real Madrid defender Marcelo by Atleti fans.
Both semifinal second-leg match-ups will take place next week, with Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid returning home needing big victories to overturn their first-leg setbacks.
BRAZILIAN CLUBS SECURE COPA LIBERTADORES GROUP STAGE PLACES
Brazilian club sides Botafogo and Club Atletico Paranaense both secured their places in the Copa Libertadores group stage, but did so with varying degrees of difficulty.
Botafogo posted a 4-0 second-leg thrashing of Ecuadorian side Deportivo Quito on Wednesday, overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit in dramatic fashion. Wallyson scored the first three goals for Botafogo.
Atletico Paranaense needed penalty kicks to dispose of Peruvian side Sporting Cristal in a second-leg clash that featured four red cards. Cristal looked to have a place in the Libertadores group stages booked before a penalty called in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time allowed Atletico to score the series-tying goal.
Michael Laudrup is seeking legal advice after being unceremoniously dumped as manager of Swansea City, and revealed on Thursday that he wasn’t even allowed to bid farewell to his players.
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher revealed details of his ordeal battling a medical condition that threatened to end his career.
Former Brazilian national team striker Alexandre Pato is on the move again, having reportedly been traded by Corinthians to Sao Paulo in exchange for Brazilian national team midfielder Jadson. Pato has struggled to make his mark at the 2013 Club World Cup champions after joining the team for a Brazilian League transfer fee-record price of 15 million Euros.
What do you think of these developments? Where could you see Vidic winding up this summer? Do you see him returning to Manchester United? Who do you see winning Copa Del Rey? Will you be following Copa Libertadores more closely this year?
Share your thoughts below.