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Friday Kickoff: Van Gaal given more money to spend; Messi recovering; and more

LouisVanGaalManUnited2-SwanseaCity (Getty)


Expect another Manchester United spending spree in January.

Man United spent a record £150 million during the summer transfer market, and the club has told manager Louis Van Gaal, in the face of Financial Fair Play, that he can continue to spend this winter.

According to reports in England, Van Gaal has identified AS Roma and Netherlands international midfielder Kevin Strootman as a transfer target in the next window, assuming he recovers fully from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The club is also eyeing German internationals Marco Reus and Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund as midseason signings.

Man United were given a boost on Thursday afternoon when defender Marcos Rojo was finally awarded his work visa, making him eligible to make his debut against Queens Park Rangers on Sept. 14.

Here are some more notes to kick off your Friday:


Lionel Messi is making progress in his recovery from injury.

After missing out on Argentina’s World Cup final rematch against Germany on Wednesday, both Argentina national team doctors and FC Barcelona doctors examined Messi on Thursday, and determined he was making “considerable improvements” in his recovery from a groin strain.

Messi suffered the injury on Sunday in a 1-0 victory against Villarreal, though he finished the match. The 27-year-old will continue to train on the side until he’s ready to return. No timetable has been set.


Marcelo Bielsa’s penchant for speaking his mind has put him in hot water.

Adressing reporters in a press conference on Thursday, the Marseille head coach hit out at club president Vincent Labrune, claiming that the club didn’t sign a single one of Bielsa’s transfer targets, while selling players without the Argentine’s approval.

“The outcome of the transfer market is negative. The president made promises that he knew he couldn’t keep,” Bielsa said. “None of the players joined with my approval. I proposed 12 (players) and none of them came. We wanted Stambouli or (central defender Toby) Alderweireld.

“I found out that we had sold Lucas Mendes at the last minute because he was leaving for Qatar. I found out about the Doria signing on Monday afternoon when he was arriving for his medical. I opposed it,” Bielsa said. “The president also promised me we wouldn’t sign foreign players, because Marseille doesn’t have enough of a structure in place to judge the qualities of someone who isn’t playing in France.”


FIFA’s independent investigator, Michael Garcia, has handed in a 350-page report looking into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. He submitted the report to the FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber on Sept. 5.

The report includes interviews with more than 75 witnesses, audio recordings, and 200,000 other pages of relevant material. A FIFA statement claims the report “reaches conclusions concerning further action with respect to certain individuals; identifies issues to be referred to other FIFA committees; and makes recommendations for future bidding processes.”

The Adjudicatory Chamber will now make the final decision on the report, including whether to publish it.


Ronaldinho will reportedly sign a contract with Mexican club Queretaro. (REPORT)

UEFA has punished Ludogorets and Steaua Bucharest with stadium closures for their next home matches after fans were found guilty of racism. Ludogorets hosts Real Madrid in the Champions League, while Steaua host AaB of Denmark. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago has had to postpone his comeback from a knee injury. (REPORT)

PSV Eindhoven wonderkid Zakaria Bakkali has rejected a new contract, alerting Arsenal, Man United, and Liverpool. (REPORT)

Ukrainian national team captain and FC Zenit midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will miss the next four to five weeks with a left hip injury. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you see Man United shelling out more money in January? Think Messi could return to the starting lineup next weekend? Do you see Bielsa lasting the entire season at Marseille?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ugh. That kind of money is exhibit A why a salary cap is a good thing. That way it’s not about how much money you have to spend but how well you build a team and put the pieces together.

  2. Stop it with the irresponsible Reus and Hummels rumors. They are happy playing Champions League Football for a real manager and know Dortmund have a long term ambition with the return of Kagawa. Reus is closer to signing an extension. They’re not gonna play for scum like Manc U.

  3. Let me guess what will be the outcome of Garcia’s report (which will be kept private of course):

    1. Further action with respect to individuals? Some measly fines and small suspensions at most.
    2. Issues to be referred to other FIFA committees? Refer all you want, not to say that they will actually discuss them
    3. Recommendations for future bidding processes? To start oh say 2030 when Seppy’s well in his grave, along with a majority of the old guard now on the ExCo.

    Move on, nothing to see here. It’s just a humble non-profit with billions in reserve.

  4. The only curious thing about Man U’s signings this year is…why do you wait until after the the 3rd week of the season to revamp the lineup!!! Did the director and board not give Van Gaal the funds until it was readily apparent that many of the players on the roster were just that good. And this is about the 7 year that they have done nothing to address the glaring need of central defenders and center mids.

  5. United have so many holes to fill that it wasn’t possible to address them all in one transfer window. This team still stinks but if they actually sign Strootman, Hummels and Reus, then they would be pretty legit.

    I’m not a United fan but as a Yankee fan I can see the parallels. From 1995-2012 the Yankees were great pretty much every year but now they’re mediocre and the army of spoiled, entitled, impatient fans can’t stomach the rebuilding process.

    • Another parrallel: The mid 90s Man U team was built around a home grown core of Becks, Giggs, the Neville borthers and Paul Scholes.

      The Yankkes were built around the home grown core of Jeter, Posada, Pettie, Bernie Williams, Mariano…

    • Well saying your best defensive player is probably Phil Jones or Marcus Rojo, I am pretty confident in saying, they dont actually got this

      • Eh, I’m super-duper skeptical of most mid-season signings. Like tremendously. Also, much as coaches like to work out problems on the field in the game rather than subbing, I’d prefer the coach take the time (and the board/owners to give it to work with what’s on hand.

        I just think this paradigm is ultimately counterproductive. For one, everyone now knows to skin you on the signings you approach them about

  6. Rather convenient for United to have such an extensive shopping list about 12 months behind schedule. I’m sure Moyes appreciates the timing, too.

    • Revisionist history, he went out and bought his dude Fellaini, who then proceeded to be ill fitted to the team, with a modest amount of appearances and I believe no goals to his name.

      He also signed two backs, neither of whom has made a first team appearance.

      And he re-signed Rooney (through 2019!), despite their mutual history, which while fairly productive is perhaps not worth the money or as effective as some of the other teams’ striking acquisitions.

      • This is a good point. I’m pretty sure the funds Moyes was allocated to sign Fellaini were almost exactly the same as the funds Van Gaal was allocated to sign Di Maria, Rojo, Falcao and Blind. I don’t see a difference whatsoever…

      • the fellaini, varela, and janko signings (from moyes’s summer 2013) totaled ~£30M. quite a bit less than lvg’s, don’t you think?

      • Who cares at this point. I am a fan of Moyes but he would not have known how to spend this kind of money anyway. He would not have had the pull that Van Gaal does either.

        Sometimes two things are really not like each other.

      • the IV’s point was that moyes also was allowed to make his signings. my counterpoint was that the budget allowed moyes doesn’t seem anywhere close to what was allowed lvg.

        if man u weren’t going to give moyes the budget he (and the squad) clearly needed, what the hell was the point of hiring him? if they just wanted to waste a year after ferguson, they could’ve made giggs interim manager, and not blown however much on moyes’ contract.

      • We sometimes act like it’s separate but if I reup Rooney for the rest of his career (and even arguably well beyond his shelf life), at a decent salary increase, that’s gotta be cutting into the transfer budget, right? It all comes out of one pot, so to speak.

        What the Texans spent on Schaub impacted the free agent cap money we had, same as now signing Watt for the long term.

      • You’re advocating Moyes should have sold Rooney as one of his first managerial decisions in the transfer market?

        To say nothing of how that move would have potentially fractured the locker room and lost an already hesitant support for the fanbase.

      • Yes. If you are going to coach a team like Man U, you have to have cojones, and everyone has to know and respect it. Better to fail your way than to try and please players who aren’t that good to begin with anyway.

      • That;s not entirely true. Moyes was not given the kind of money or the freehand that Van Gaal is getting, In fact, he was prevented from buying Thiago Alcantara when Giggs swayed the rest of the leadership away from the idea on the grounds that he was “not a Man United player”, Whether it would have been a good buy or not is not the point – the point is that Giggs led a faction against Moyes. He even stood up against Moyes for wanting to punish three younger players for a night out (superemely ironic for anyone who has seen Class of ’92)

        There is no way that Moyes was going to be given the free hand to dump the guys he’s dumped, too. Imagine if Moyes came in and said, let’s get rid of Danny Weilbeck? There would have been rioting.

        I’m no Man U fan, but they would have been much better off giving Moyes a free hand and another year than they are under Van Gaal’s ridiculous 3 in the back system.

      • They also were trying hard to sign Cesc for a boatload of money but we rebuffed by Barcelona and Cesc.

        The funds were there for Moyes.

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