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Seattle Sounders complete signing of Heber from NYCFC

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The Seattle Sounders have completed a move for Brazilian forward Heber from New York City FC.

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Heber’s transfer was completed on Thursday following emerging reports of Seattle’s interest earlier in the week. NYCFC have received $400k in General Allocation Money (GAM) split between 2023 and 2024, with another $150k payable should certain performance targets be hit.

The Brazilian striker has signed a one-year contract through the 2023 MLS season with an option for 2024. He will provide much-needed depth and competition for Peruvian marksman Raul Ruidiaz.

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“We are excited to bring in Héber and strengthen our team with a proven, veteran attacking player,” Sounders general manager and chief soccer officer Craig Waibel said in a club press release.

“Heber’s track record across multiple leagues speaks for itself, and he has been an impact player since coming to MLS. I’d like to welcome him to Seattle and look forward to watching him work with our existing squad once camp opens.”

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Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was equally as excited to bring Heber onto his roster.

“You always need players that can score, and Heber has been goal-dangerous throughout his entire career,” Schmetzer said. ”I can’t wait for him to get to work with our coaches and his new teammates to add another strong piece to our attacking group.”

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Heber has enjoyed a solid goalscoring record since arriving in MLS with NYCFC, hitting the net 30 times in 90 appearances across all competitions, while providing seven assists.

The 31-year-old suffered an ACL tear in 2020 that kept him out for almost the entire calendar year, but recovered to help NYCFC win MLS Cup in 2021. Across the 2022 season, a fully-fit Heber managed 11 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions.

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Prior to joining NYCFC, Heber had productive spells in Croatia, Armenia, and his native Brazil.

“Heber has been such an integral part of our club the past four seasons. Since the day he arrived, he’s brought a huge amount of joy to our training facility and has been a great person to work with,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in an official statement.

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”Ultimately, as we headed into the offseason we needed to make moves in our roster to add resources which will allow us to reshape the squad for the seasons ahead.”

Heber is the latest key player to leave NYCFC in the last year, alongside the likes of Taty Castellanos, Anton Tinnerholm, and Maxi Moralez, as well as former head coach Ronny Deila.

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Goalkeeper Sean Johnson and center-back Alexander Callens are both out of contract with the club actively searching for replacements, making it unlikely they’ll return for 2023.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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Barcelona’s stance on potential UEFA Champions League ban

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Barcelona are said to be ‘confident’ that they will avoid a ban from the UEFA Champions League amid their ongoing corruption case.

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Barça have been charged with ‘continuous sporting corruption’ by Spanish courts, with it alleged that they made several payments to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira – the former vice-president of Spain’s refereeing committee – over information and analysis of match officials which could benefit them.

It had previously been speculated that any wrongdoing could result in Barcelona being barred from entering the Champions League, with UEFA confirming on Thursday they are launching their own investigation into the scandal.

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UEFA’s statement read: “In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira’.”

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However, the Daily Mail report that Barcelona are ‘confident’ that UEFA will not hit them with a ban or financial penalty.

La Blaugrana maintain their innocence in the scandal and believe that any punishment from UEFA could be legally reversed or challenged if they are found not guilty by Spanish courts.

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Barcelona are already in financial trouble having failed to reap the lucrative rewards of reaching the Champions League knockout stages for two seasons running.

Part of the charges against Barcelona claim that they paid Negreira and his company in order to receive preferential treatment from referees.

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“Through presidents [Sandro] Rosell and [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions,” Spanish prosecutors said.

This key detail hints at match-fixing, which is punishable by UEFA with a ban from European competition.

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La Liga have already ruled out sporting sanctions against Barcelona as these charges are historic, but president Javier Tebas has claimed he will revisit the case if the club are found guilty.



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Sheikh Jassim submits improved bid

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Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has submitted an improved bid to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family.

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Bidders were granted an extension to the previous deadline of Wednesday this week in order to lodge improved offers to purchase the club.

A rival bid from Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS was confirmed in recent days, with Sheikh Jassim’s representatives now confirming that they too have upped their offer.

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Reports claim United had expected to receive Sheikh Jassim’s latest bid by Friday night, though ‘finer details’ had to be sorted and it was submitted in the early hours of Saturday morning instead.

Raine Group, who are handling the sale, have also received a number of offers for a minority stake in United, with one notably coming from Elliott Investment Management – the former owners of AC Milan.

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Meanwhile, Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus, who claims to have submitted a speculative offer earlier this week, called on Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim to join his bid on Saturday in order to act in the best interests of the club.

The Glazers are looking to sell United before the summer transfer window, though 90min has consistently reported that they will back away from deals if their £6bn valuation is not met.

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Recent bidders are likely to hear back from Raine Group in a week.

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On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss why Harry Kane would be a better signing for Man Utd than Napoli marksman Victor Osimhen. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!





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Alexis Sanchez discusses transfer battle between Man City & Man Utd after leaving Arsenal

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Alexis Sanchez has spoken at length about how he would have won the UEFA Champions League with Manchester City if he had joined them instead of Manchester United in 2018.

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The Chilean arrived in England in 2014 from Barcelona, joining Arsenal off the back of a stellar FIFA World Cup campaign.

Sanchez cemented his place as one of the Premier League’s finest players during his first three seasons with the Gunners, but sought to leave in the summer of 2017 with one year left on his contract.

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He was continually linked with a reunion with ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola at Man City. A deal looked to be in the works late in the window, but Arsenal’s moves to replace him collapsed and the transfer fell apart – Raheem Sterling and Thomas Lemar were heavily linked with switches to the Emirates Stadium.

When the January window rolled around, Man City were again hopeful of signing Sanchez, but they were beaten to a deal by Man Utd.

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In an interview with TVN, Chile’s public broadcaster, Sanchez discussed this transfer saga.

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“I was about to go to City. I spoke to Guardiola every day, he told me happy birthday. He was like my dad, He was my dad at Barcelona and he was like my dad at City,” Sanchez began.

“We talked, we talked every day, he sent me messages. And everything was ready, there was a player who was going to go to Arsenal. Then [Arsene] Wenger tells me you are not leaving because the other player did not want to come and they do not have another.

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“Suddenly, the cell phone rings. [Jose] Mourinho tells me: ‘Alexis, here is the [number] seven available for you’.

“It wasn’t a money thing, so everyone knows. It was the same with United and City. And he said to me ‘here is the seven, we are playing in the Champions League and we are going to give everything’. I wanted to leave at that moment, but I had Guardiola’s word.

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“That’s when I said to myself, a Chilean footballer playing for Manchester United, something that has never happened. With the seven of [Eric] Cantona, [David] Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and now a Chilean had it, it was a dream.

“I don’t regret going to United, things happen for a reason. I would have liked to have gone to City, yes. We would have won the Champions League by now. In the final I would have done something.”

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There were huge expectations for Sanchez at Man Utd, particularly after he was so prolific in Arsenal teams which underwhelmed for the most part.

Mourinho’s side needed a fresh injection of energy to reignite a flailing 2017/18 season, but were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the last 16 stage by Sevilla and lost the FA Cup final to a Chelsea team that finished three places behind Man Utd in the Premier League table.

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Sanchez would score just five goals in 45 games for Man Utd before joining Inter, helping them win Serie A in 2021.

He now plays for Marseille in Ligue 1.

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On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott SaundersGraeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss the race to sign Jude Bellingham, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham future, Roy Hodgson’s return to Crystal Palace, Erling Haaland’s contract, Mason Mount & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!





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