Monday Kickoff: Raul signs in Qatar, Balotelli makes Italy cut and more

Monday Kickoff: Raul signs in Qatar, Balotelli makes Italy cut and more

Euro 2012

Monday Kickoff: Raul signs in Qatar, Balotelli makes Italy cut and more

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Raul (Getty Images)

Feel free to cross Raul off the last of potential summer MLS arrivals.

The Spanish striker signed a one-year deal with Al Sadd in Qatar, signalling the next move in his legendary career. Raul, who turns 35 next month, played two seasons with German club Schalke, with his final match with the team coming at PPL Park in a friendly against the Philadelphia Union last week. 

Despite his growing age, Raul performed at a high level this season, scoring 21 goals in all competitions. He scored 40 goals with Schalke after leaving Real Madrid following 16 seasons in which he became one of the world's most lethal finishers.

The Union and Chivas USA were reported to have shown serious interest in bringing Raul to MLS.

Here are a few more stories to kick off your week:

BALOTELLI MAKES ITALY CUT

Mario Balotelli may yet find his way back into the Italian national team fray.

The mercurial Manchester City striker, whose pass helped set up Sergio Aguero for the Premier League-winning goal on Sunday, was listed on Italian manager Cesare Prandelli's 32-man preliminary roster for Euro 2012.

Balotelli's on- and off-field antics had led Prandelli to repeatedly leave the forward out of Italian camps and friendlies over the last few months. Balotelli last played for Italy in November in a friendly against Uruguay.

As for whether Balotelli will play during Euro 2012, Prandelli will trim his roster to 23 in two weeks ahead of tune-up friendlies against Luxembourg and Russia.

VAN NISTELROOY RETIRES

After helping lead Malaga to a UEFA Champions League berth, Ruud Van Nistelrooy is calling it a career.

The 35-year-old Dutch striker, who said that he "arrived at my physical limit and I can't play at the maximum level" retired after Malaga's season-ending, 1-0 victory over Sporting Gijon, a game that marked the end of his one-year contract with the club.

Van Nistelrooy was a standout performer for Den Bosch, Heerenveen, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Hamburg before trying his hand at high-spending Malaga. Van Nistelrooy, who was hampered by injuries throughout his career, had his playing time limited this season, scoring five goals in 32 games in all competitions.

NEVILLE ADDED TO ENGLAND STAFF

England national team coach Roy Hodgson has added a voice of experience to his coaching staff by including former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville as an assistant ahead of this summer's European championship.

Neville, who retired and had been doing broadcast work, was given a four-year deal by the FA and will join Hodgson with immediate effect.

SANTOS WINS SAO PAULO TITLE

Winning the Sao Paulo state title is nothing new for Brazilian power Santos, which did so for the third consecutive year with a 4-2 victory over Guarani (7-2 on aggregate) spearheaded by two goals from Neymar.

The 20-year-old Brazilian star continued his standout season by netting from the penalty spot and adding a second on a finish from inside the area just days after he was named as the headliner on Brazil's roster for four upcoming friendlies — including one against the United States — in the build-up to the Olympics.

With the victory, Santos became the first team in 43 years to win three street Sao Paulo state titles, with the last one being the Pele-led Santos squad of 1967-1969.

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Disappointed Raul won't be coming to MLS? Think Balotelli deserves a place on Italy's Euro roster? What's your favorite Van Nistelrooy memory? Think Neville is a good hire for England's coaching staff? Where do you rank Neymar among the world's active players?

Share your thoughts below.

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