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Everton defender Leighton Baines has expressed his delight at the club being able to progress to the next stage of the Europa League with relative ease.
Everton returned to this Premier competition in Roberto Martinez’ first season in charge. They almost qualified for the Champions League after a spectacular run of form towards the end of the season. This season, they may be struggling much more than expected, but Everton’s performances in the Europa League have been impressive nonetheless. From this season onwards, winners of the Europa League will get a place in the next season’s Champions League.
This is a huge bonus and incentive for Everton to try and win the competition, which will feature the likes of Liverpool going into the knockout stages. Everton’s league form may not be consistent, but Baines says that the club are already looking forward to playing in the knockout stages of the European competition. The Merseyside outfit will be coming up against Young Boys of Switzerland. Their opposition have not been doing well in the Swiss league and currently trail leaders FC Basel by a whopping eight points. A big advantage for the Swiss team will be the winter break, which will provide them some much needed time to get the squad together.
“We’ve qualified for Europe and done well thus far.We’re excited to go into next year and do as well as we can in the Europa League. It’s a competition that we have embraced. I’ve got three children and we still have a great time. When you’re sitting around the dinner table and your parents and partner are having drink, you sort of have to draw the line there. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. We come in, train for a few hours on Christmas morning and go back to our families,” said Baines about the Europa league and Christmas schedule in England.
LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena says that he intends to replace Landon Donovan with a quality player in the team.
The former US international was one of the designated players in the LA Galaxy team, but he chose to retire at the end of last season. He went out with the MLS cup after LA Galaxy defeated New England Revolution in the final. Donovan has undoubtedly been a major part of LA Galaxy since moving to the club in 2005. The 32-year-old shocked many by announcing his retirement at this young age, but it has also provided LA Galaxy with a lot of time to find a replacement.
The 2015 MLS campaign will start with a number of new teams like New York City FC and Orlando City providing competition for the title. Arena has accepted that Donovan has been a great part of Galaxy and it will be difficult to replace him like-for-like. However, he intends to find a quality replacement in the upcoming January transfer window. Even though Arena confirmed that LA Galaxy plan to bring in another star as a designated player, he refused to do reveal the details about the type of player they are targeting right now. Donovan was a striker who can also play in the midfield and was extremely versatile.
“We won’t replace Landon. But we’re going to get another good player, no question about that. We’re far enough to have some options. We’ll see what happens in the next month or so,” said Bruce Arena.“We’re going to have to figure it out. Obviously losing Landon is a big loss for us. He has giant shoes to fill. It’s up for Bruce to get the team together and make us focused off the bat in 2015 and go from there,” said defender Omar Gonzalez.
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Earlier in August, the American forward of Los Angeles Galaxy Landon Donovan, revealed his intention of retiring at the end of the current season which comes as a surprise to many people around the world as Donovan is 32 years old but he still continues breaking records and making a name for himself despite being at that fairly elevated age.
Donovan was recently voted as the Major League Soccer Player of the Week after he managed to score 2 goals and provided 2 assists during his clubs’ resounding 6-0 triumph over Colorado Rapids. The veteran forward is now the all-time MLS goal-scorer with 141 goals as he surpassed the previous holder of the record which was Jeff Cunningham and now Donovan is also aiming on breaking the all-time record in assists in the MLS which is currently being held by Steve Ralston.
It seems like there is no way to stop Landon Donovan from making his mark on the history books of the MLS as he consistently continues on displaying impressive performances.
Another note-worthy recognition that Donovan has recently received was the Etihad Airways Player of the Month award for August as he secured a total of 3 goals and 6 assists in the previous month.
If everything goes according to planned and Landon Donovan does decide to follow through with his decision of retiring at the end of the ongoing season then he has less than 10 matches left to play before hanging up his boots and make the most out of what is left.
The teammates of Donovan are well aware of the few matches that are remaining in the campaign and they want to help the experienced player on breaking as many records as possible.
The 23 year old forward of LA Galaxy, Gyasi Zardes expressed that he will do everything he can to help Donovan in accomplishing that task.
“I would love to give him that record. He’s a phenomenal player. We’re talking about Landon Donovan here; he helped set me up for two goals. So I would love to help him break that record. I hope he keeps breaking as many records as he can before he departs.” Gyasi Zardes said as he stated that he wants to help Donovan break the all-time assist record.
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Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon recently spent £ 3 million in acquiring the services of Scottish midfielder Ryan Gauld. The deal has surprised many given that the player is only 18 years old. It is extremely uncommon for Scottish footballers – even for the talented ones – to leave British football at such a young age. In addition to this, Gauld will be playing at a club where the likes of Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo came through the ranks. This has put massive pressure on the young shoulders, but he says that that he is not coming to the club in order to follow the likes of Ronaldo.
He is only concentrating on showing his ability to the world. Gauld reportedly has a release clause of €60 million inserted into the six-year contract that he signed with the Portuguese club. Even though it is highly unlikely to be activated right now, the deal has resulted in a number of top European clubs taking notice on the 18-year-old. He came through the ranks at Dundee United before making the debut for the Scottish club in 2012. He went on to make 42 appearances in the league for the Scottish club in these two years.
Yet to appear for the national team, he has featured in the U21 teams on a couple of occasions.
“They’re [Figo and Ronaldo] two very good players but I’m just concentrating on myself. Everyone knows it’s a great club, a very big club, good at developing younger players. That’s played a bit part in my signing. They’re just looking forward to me going over for training and we’ll see how it goes from there. The deal shows that they’re not expecting too much, too soon – it’s probably a long-term investment. I would just like to say thanks for everyone at Dundee United for giving me this chance,” said Gauld.