The Boot Room

Isco has Real Madrid fans dancing to his tune ahead of UCL final

May 26, 2017 05:07 PM PDT

Sid Lowe explains why it would not be worth the risk for Zinedine Zidane to start Gareth Bale over Isco in Cardiff. Real Madrid fans were asked this week to select their player of the season and the result was further confirmation of one of the greatest personal success stories at the Bernabeu in 2016-17 as Isco garnered the most votes. It was a richly deserved accolade. In an era when every aspect of the game is scrutinised, recorded, analysed and then turned into statistical evidence that one player is more effective or more efficient than another there is little room for pure entertainment, but Isco, he of...

Liverpool to bid £50m for Naby Keita; Man City moving for Benjamin Mendy

May 26, 2017 04:56 PM PDT

The FC panel try to sort through the conflicting messages and swirling rumours regarding Antoine Griezmann's future. Liverpool are trying to raid RB Leipzig for their box-to-box midfielder Naby Keita. The football world's gossip mill is in full swing, and Transfer Talk is monitoring the whispers ahead of all the summer moves. Check out the latest deals and potential deals here. Liverpool eye record Keita bid Liverpool could break their transfer record to sign RB Leipzig's Naby Keita, with the Mirror claiming the Reds are prepared to bid as high as £50 million to get the box-to-box midfielder. The Guinea international would command a fee in excess of the £38m they paid for...

PSG fittingly can send club legend Maxwell out on top with cup triumph

May 26, 2017 04:29 PM PDT

With domestic seasons all wrapped up, Alejandro Moreno and Alexis Nunes predict some of the cup finals around Europe. The ESPN FC crew discuss what lies ahead for Unai Emery and Paris Saint-Germain following a disappointing 2016-17 campaign. Amid rumours linking him to various clubs, Julien Laurens discusses whether or not PSG's Marco Verratti is set for a move. PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain will end an unsatisfying season with a Coupe de France final against Angers at Stade de France on Saturday and the curtain will come down on popular veteran Maxwell's illustrious career with the capital club as well. It is unclear what the future holds for the Brazilian left-back right now but whether he plays on or hangs up his boots, the 35-year-old will always deserve more credit than he generally tends to get. Assuming PSG beat Angers this weekend, Maxwell will...

German Cup still not mean a happy summer for Dortmund, Tuchel

May 26, 2017 12:35 PM PDT

ESPN FC's Raphael Honigstein discusses the latest on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future. Thomas Tuchel says Borussia Dortmund have taken a different approach to the DFB Pokal after their loss in the 2016 final. "I really want that trophy," said Christian Pulisic in an interview with the Guardian. "I want it bad and I think the whole team really does." The trophy in question is the DFB Pokal, which Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt will play for at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday night (live on WatchESPN, 1.55 p.m. ET, U.S. only). It's the fourth consecutive DFB Pokal final for the Black and Yellows and their sixth consecutive with a tournament final, including the 2012-13 UEFA Champions...

Keeping perspective vital for Barca ahead of Copa del Rey final

May 26, 2017 11:42 AM PDT

Luis Enrique is leaving Barcelona after the Copa del Rey final, but he is not ruling out a return in the future. The FC crew declare that a victory in the Copa del Rey final would still not salvage Barcelona's season. Luis Enrique says early season home form cost Barcelona the La Liga title. Damned if they win, damned if they don't. It's almost as if Barcelona can do no right when they face Alaves in the final of the Copa del Rey this weekend. Winning the cup, some of the players have admitted themselves, will not cover up what has ultimately been a failed season, expectations not met. But lose and this team -- which lost the league on the final day by just three points and produced that incredible Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain -- will be knocked by friends and...

Man United players know tragedy puts Europa League triumph into context

May 26, 2017 11:40 AM PDT

Man United and Ajax shared a moment of silence in honour of all those affected by the Manchester terrorist attack. The FC panel were all positive after watching Manchester United thoroughly dominate an electric, albeit young Ajax side. The conversation gets heated between the FC guys when talking about whether or not this season can be considered a success by Man United standards. Manchester United's team bus began to edge away from Stockholm's Friends Arena at 12:50 a.m. on Thursday morning, the sound of the engine mixed with banging on the windows and the muted cheers of footballers singing in celebration of their Europa League final victory. A steward told a bystander that under no circumstances should a photograph be taken of the vehicle, which had been camouflaged in red, white and black and featured the Manchester United badge with "Going Holm" written on the front,...

Sounders-Timbers renew Major League Soccer's best rivalry at pivotal time

May 26, 2017 11:05 AM PDT

With roughly a third of the MLS season in the books, Paul Mariner presents the top 10 MLS goals of the season thus far. The Portland Timbers arrived in Seattle last Aug. 21 with the opportunity to put their longtime foe to the sword. The Brian Schmetzer era had started reasonably well for the Sounders, with two wins from three matches under the then-interim head coach. Still, both the team's standing and confidence was tenuous. They were still far outside the playoff qualifying places. A home loss to their most bitter rivals could have been the straw that finally broke Seattle's streak of consecutive postseason berths. Instead,...

Trending: Jose Mourinho's Manchester United target four summer transfers

May 26, 2017 11:00 AM PDT

Anthony Richardson recaps an eventful Europa League final, but was Man United's season deemed a success? Friday's latest stories from the world of football in ESPN FC's What's Trending... MAN UNITED: Manchester United are not planning a major overhaul of their first-team squad this summer, with the club working on bringing in four new players ahead of next season, sources have told ESPN FC. -  United gave their entire city a "lift" by beating Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League final on Wednesday, according to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson. - United's Antonio Valencia has signed a contract...

Mauricio Pochettino must keep Spurs' stars invested in his long-term project

May 26, 2017 10:32 AM PDT

Seven goals in two matches wasn't enough for Harry Kane, Mourinho's 'conversation' goes viral and much more in The Sweeper. Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min combined for 61 of Tottenham's 86 Premier League goals. Which five were the best? With the first team off in Asia on a "meet the fans" trip and to play a couple of friendlies, Spurs are getting a deserved break from their season's exertions. To finish the Premier League with two thumping away wins was the icing on the cake: proof that the team had learned from the season before and had developed a ruthless edge in the closing games even when there was little at stake. But now the hard work starts all over again. It's inevitable that some players will leave over the course...

Juve's success down to determination, commitment and selflessness

May 26, 2017 10:28 AM PDT

As Juventus seal a sixth consecutive Serie A crown, Janusz Michallik explains just how impressive the streak is. Watch some of the best moments from Juve's raising of their 33rd Serie A trophy, as well as some locker room celebrations. Gerard Pique has recently said Juve's Gianluigi Buffon should be the leading candidate for this year's Ballon d'Or. It's time for the final game of the Serie A season and while Juventus have already been crowned Champions of Italy for a record sixth straight time, they're gunning for another win to ensure they maintain that winning momentum looking ahead to next week and the Champions League final. A remarkable team that sacrifices and works for one another, the Bianconeri are clearly the best-balanced side in Europe. With talent in every area of a pitch and a team that can score in a multitude of ways, some...

From Erick Gutierrez to Raul Lopez: Mexico players with plenty to prove

May 26, 2017 10:24 AM PDT

El Tri an option down the wings in Rio." title="Chivas defender Raul Lopez continues to impress and will give El Tri an option down the wings in Rio." /> Pachuca defender Raul Lopez (right) is among the players fighting for a spot in Mexico's World Cup qualifying roster. Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio has quite a busy schedule ahead of him. In addition to upcoming friendlies (Saturday, May 27 against Croatia and Thursday, June 1 against Ireland) and FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Osorio will also have to navigate through the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup with El Tri. It's no easy task and with plenty of matches during the next couple of months, the coach will need to work through a long list of players. Last week, Osorio named an initial 32-man roster that will...

Player completes one of the worst dives you will ever witness in football

May 26, 2017 09:32 AM PDT

Alexis Sanchez's old man disguise, Ronaldinho's visit to Barca and an all-time dive highlight this edition of the Sweeper. As if the job of a referee wasn't hard enough to begin with, many now have to spend entire games contending with nefarious tactics such as diving, feigning injury and time-wasting. Thankfully, however, some footballers are just so downright blatant in their attempts to deceive that officials have precisely zero problem separating the genuine injury from the phony. Wait for it... ������ Tag a mate who's theatrical ��​ A post shared...

Bernardo Silva signing signals Pep Guardiola and City's intent, ambition

May 26, 2017 09:20 AM PDT

Alejandro Moreno praises Bernardo Silva's ability but wonders where he'd fit with an already crowded Man City midfield. Steve Nicol breaks down the latest rumours, including Man City's links with Kyle Walker and Alexis Sanchez. Vincent Kompany shares his thoughts on Man City's season, Pep Guardiola as a manager and his hopes for the 2017-18 season. Following an up-and-down season under Pep Guardiola, the FC panel share their thoughts on Sergio Aguero's Man City future. The capture of Bernardo Silva means that it can be said with relative certainty Manchester City mean business this summer. Memories of warm months spent dithering around and ending up with Fabian Delph or Scott Sinclair are set to be eclipsed this close season as City launch themselves into the transfer market with serious intent. Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini's summer sprees were blighted by the restrictions of UEFA's once popular Financial Fair Play legislation, which brought City's...

Philly enters uncharted territory; San Jose, LA to heat up California Clasico

May 26, 2017 08:32 AM PDT

Toronto FC stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games to leapfrog FC Dallas atop our MLS power rankings. Major League Soccer is in full swing. Jason Davis highlights the matches you can't miss as the season rolls into Week 13. Philadelphia looks to move into uncharted territory in Salt Lake The Union are the league's hottest team and will put their franchise-record four-game winning streak on the line when they travel to take on a Real Salt Lake side still trying to get a grasp on consistency. For Philadelphia, the game represents a chance to jump above the red line in the Eastern Conference. For a...

Inter's attitude and tactics have improved but their issues go deeper

May 26, 2017 08:13 AM PDT

Stefano Vecchi is 1-1 in his stint as Inter's caretaker manager, which ends Sunday against Udinese. Nerazzurri fans finally caught a break over the weekend when a reinvigorated Inter beat Lazio 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico under the tutelage of caretaker Stefano Vecchi. Unfortunately, there were plenty of reasons to worry, reasons that go beyond the fact that Lazio were coming off a Coppa Italia final loss to Juventus or Inter's quest for Europe already being over. And to think that a lot had gone right for Vecchi's men. For a start, the coach got his tactics spot on, finally balancing out attack...

Replacing Luciano Spalletti at Roma won't be easy, Francesco Totti impossible

May 26, 2017 07:50 AM PDT

With reports that Luciano Spalletti is planning to depart Roma, Gab Marcotti gives his take on how the club should proceed. On Sunday evening, 65,000 Roma fans will wave goodbye to Francesco Totti after a 25th Serie A campaign that has been more bitter than sweet. One of Europe's finest ever players will close a lifetime as the Eternal City's hero having started just one league game in his last season -- so far he has played a total of 328 minutes, the majority of which were spread across largely irrelevant substitute appearances similar to the one reserved for him against Genoa at the weekend. As goodbyes go, it's not...

Manchester United legend Patrice Evra excited about Old Trafford return

May 26, 2017 07:41 AM PDT

Manchester United legend Patrice Evra is heading back to Old Trafford this summer -- and he wants everyone to know how excited he is. ��Red alert �� ������breaking news!!! I'm coming to #carricktestimonial @carras16 @manchesterunited @red����������OT ��baby I'm coming home �� Fergie ☺️sorry#beyonce i kill it ��������...

FA Cup final tactical preview: how will Wenger counteract Conte's plans?

May 26, 2017 07:28 AM PDT

The FC panel have their say on who will win the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal. ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent Mattias Karen feels Wenger will remain with Arsenal despite how they fare in the final. Chelsea have gone through 16 managerial changes in Arsene Wenger's 20-year tenure with Arsenal, here is a look at who came out on top ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent Liam Twomey has his say as to whether or not Chelsea will seal the double against Arsenal. On Saturday afternoon at Wembley, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is aiming to become only the third manager to win the league and cup double in his first full season in English football. One of the previous two, Arsene Wenger, will be in the other dugout. For all the intriguing on-pitch head-to-head battles, and in a game where both sides will use similar systems (and therefore players will match one another across the pitch), it is the clash between Conte and Wenger that is the most intriguing....

As Barca look forward, Luis Enrique hopes to exit with trophy, minimal fuss

May 26, 2017 07:15 AM PDT

Sid Lowe examines Luis Enrique's legacy at Barcelona and evaluates the impact Ernesto Valverde could have at the club. The FC crew declare that a victory in the Copa del Rey final would still not salvage Barcelona's season. Gemma Soler assesses the stakes for Barcelona and Alaves in the Copa del Rey final, the last match at the Vicente Calderon. In case you hadn't heard, Barcelona have a match on Saturday. And, no, that's not quite as silly as it sounds, because you might not have heard. Well, you might not have heard much, anyway. Over the last week, maybe even beyond, it has sometimes felt like the Copa del Rey final, against Alaves at the Vicente Calderon, isn't really there. By kickoff, it will be. In the hours before the game, around 20,000 fans will make their way south-west to Madrid. There will be a lot of noise by the stadium and...

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