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

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

European Soccer

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.

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