Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela have been named in the MLS Best XI for 2019.

LA Galaxy striker Ibrahimovic was named in the side for the second successive campaign after scoring 30 goals and assisting seven more in 29 regular-season matches.

Vela has enjoyed a stellar year with Los Angeles FC, meanwhile, having netted a single-season record 34 goals to win the Golden Boot and earn links with a move to LaLiga giants Barcelona.

LAFC won the Supporters' Shield and are well represented, with midfielder Eduard Atuesta and defender Walker Zimmerman also included.

There was also a place for Atlanta United's Josef Martinez, who broke his own MLS record by scoring a goal in 15 consecutive matches this year.

Vito Mannone got the nod in goal after making 129 saves in his debut campaign with Minnesota United, helping them qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time.

 

MLS Best XI: Vito Mannone (Minnesota); Ike Opara (Minnesota), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC); Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto), Carles Gil (New England), Eduard Atuesta (LAFC), Maxi Moralez (NYCFC); Carlos Vela (LAFC), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy).

Carlos Vela would fit in perfectly at LaLiga champions Barcelona, according to his Mexico team-mate and Blaugrana youth product Jonathan dos Santos.

Barca reportedly considered a move for the former Arsenal and Real Sociedad forward in January as they sought cover for Luis Suarez.

The short-term switch failed to materialise, however, with the Spanish champions instead signing Kevin-Prince Boateng, who barely featured in his six months at the club.

Should Barca come calling again, though, Dos Santos – whose LA Galaxy side were beaten 5-3 by Vela's Los Angeles FC in the MLS Western Conference semi-final on Friday – believes Vela would have no problems slotting in alongside Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Suarez.

Dos Santos, who played for Barca between 2009 and 2014 after also representing their academy and B team, told reporters: "Vela could fit in at Barcelona. He is a great player with a lot of quality; he has shown it in every team that has been.

"I hope a team like Barcelona is interested in Vela. He would do well surrounded by such excellent players."

Speaking after Friday's game, Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic made headlines by suggesting MLS would be forgotten quickly if he were no longer playing in the league.

Amid rumours the former Sweden international could return to Europe when his contract expires in December, Dos Santos said: "Zlatan is very mysterious. He has not said anything else after the game and if he stays he will help us a lot in the campaign. He is a player of excellent quality."

AC Milan director Paolo Maldini believes "fear" could hold Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from returning to Serie A.

LA Galaxy superstar Ibrahimovic's contract is set to expire and the former Milan, Inter and Juventus striker has been linked with a move back to Italy.

Ibrahimovic, whose side were eliminated from the MLS play-offs by Los Angeles FC, claimed he would score 20 goals a season in Serie A amid growing links to Napoli, Bologna and Inter.

The possibility of Ibrahimovic returning to Milan has also been mentioned as the Rossoneri struggle for goals, however, Maldini cast doubt over the 38-year-old's Italy comeback.

"Ibra would be a dream return for many reasons, but I think within his mind there is a little fear that he won't be the dominant Ibra of old," Maldini told Sky Sport Italia.

"I remember when [former Milan head coach] Carlo Ancelotti put me on the bench for a derby and that's when I realised, I could not accept a season like that. I don't know if Ibra could accept that either.

"Krzysztof Piatek is a good striker. He needs to think more about playing with the team, but his strength is scoring goals."

Ibrahimovic has flourished since moving to Los Angeles from Manchester United in 2018 – scoring 53 goals across two seasons for the Galaxy.

 

 

Kylian Mbappe is long admired by Real Madrid and they are again intent on adding the 20-year-old to their front line, it seems.

Mbappe was linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu before opting to stay in Ligue 1 when joining Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco in the 2017-18 season.

The Spanish giants have not forgotten about the France international, though, and are planning to move two superstars on in order to get their man, according to reports.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE BACK ON MADRID'S RADAR WITH BALE AND JAMES TO MAKE WAY

Real Madrid were unable to land Kylian Mbappe a couple of seasons ago, but they are keen to sign him over the next few transfer windows, according to Calciomercato.

Mbappe is one of world football's star names and would fit into the old Galactico culture at Madrid, although Los Blancos would need to offload two star names in order to raise finances and complete a deal with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

One of those names is Gareth Bale, who is still reportedly unhappy at Madrid, while Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez could also move on having struggled at times to find form this season following a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

It remains to be seen whether any club is willing to pay the substantial transfer fee and wages required to secure either of the duo, but if they do make way then it could pave the way for Mbappe's move.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Madrid and ElDesmarque believe Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could be heading to Real Madrid in exchange for Gareth Bale and €90million.

- Bleacher Report claim Mesut Ozil's advisors are trying to convince the Arsenal playmaker to make a switch to MLS.

- Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is the number one transfer target for Manchester City, according to Calciomercato.

- Manchester Evening News are reporting City may also take up their option to buy back Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa.

- Frank Lampard is hopefully of securing Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to new contracts at Chelsea, Goal have said.

- Athletic Bilbao defender Unai Nunez is a January transfer target for Bayern Munich, say Spox.

- Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez's contract talks with Inter have been put on ice as Barcelona and United circle for the 22-year-old's signature, according to Calciomercato.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wondered if Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson was distracting the El Trafico VAR when Carlos Vela's controversial second goal was allowed to stand.

Los Angeles FC claimed their first victory over rivals LA Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference semi-finals, running out 5-3 winners in an instant classic.

Vela netted twice to open the scoring, but his second effort saw a borderline call go in LAFC's favour, with Brian Rodriguez and the Mexican having appeared to be offside in the build-up.   

LAFC part-owner Johnson was in the stands, prompting Ibrahimovic to playfully suggest he had a role in the referee's failure to reassess the decision with the help of VAR.

Told Vela's strike was offside by a reporter, Ibrahimovic replied: "Was it? Are you sure? Are you 100 per cent sure? And you think we didn't know that? But the referee didn't know that.

"[VAR] didn't [get involved]. What was he doing upstairs? Drinking coffee with Magic Johnson?

"It's difficult, because if you have the VAR, it means the game is extra-controlled by the fifth referee upstairs. But if he's drinking coffee with Magic Johnson, it's difficult to play the game.

"He has to be in control. [The referee] didn't even go out and check. He said he needed a signal from the VAR people to go out and check. So what are the VAR people doing?

"But I don't want to complain about that, guys. We just lost, and I don't want to be a loser complaining about the refs because it's not my level."

Bob Bradley took issue with criticism of Carlos Vela after the Los Angeles FC captain led his side to a first victory over rivals LA Galaxy in an instant El Trafico classic.

LAFC cruised to the Supporters' Shield title this year but had not previously beaten Galaxy in five attempts coming into a crunch MLS playoff on Thursday.

That run was ended in a gripping contest, though, as Vela netted twice, getting the better of Zlatan Ibrahimovic - on the scoresheet once - in an encounter that had been billed as a showdown between the league's two leading stars.

ESPN reported both Vela and Ibrahimovic refused to fulfil media duties ahead of the game, which LAFC won 5-3.

And coach Bradley then fumed when a reporter put to him that Vela, a former Arsenal and Real Sociedad star linked with Barcelona, had not previously delivered in big matches.

"Who asked those questions?" Bradley said to ESPN, glaring at the reporter. "Have they been asked this year? Why would we ask that question?

"For this season? Get lost. Get lost."

Vela's brace took his 2019 MLS tally to 36 goals in 32 games after a record-breaking regular season, while Ibrahimovic is now out of contract with Galaxy, having talked up a potential return to Europe.

Part-owner and Hollywood star Will Ferrell was in greater mood than Bradley to celebrate LAFC's success, leading chants alongside defender Walker Zimmerman.

"I think if we could have traded those five games to win this game, we'd do it in a heartbeat," he said. "What a great way to win, finally, in the playoffs, beat the Galaxy."

Ferrell added of the Western Conference final clash with Seattle Sounders: "It's going to be tough. They're playing really well at the right time. See, I know my stuff.

"But this was a huge mountain to get over the top of. We'll just see. It's a quick turnaround - Tuesday, right? I've got to stay limber."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic potentially aimed a parting shot at MLS as he discussed his LA Galaxy future following their playoff defeat to rivals Los Angeles FC.

The 38-year-old, who scored 30 goals in the 2019 regular season to lead Galaxy back to the postseason, was on target on Thursday but could not save his side from a 5-3 derby defeat.

It was Galaxy's first El Trafico reverse as LAFC, the Supporters' Shield winners, took a huge stride towards a first MLS Cup triumph.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract in Los Angeles in December and has not been shy in talking up a possible return to Europe, with former club Manchester United linked along with a host of Serie A sides.

The former Sweden star insisted a further contract with Galaxy does not depend on financial terms, despite having become a Designated Player heading into this season.

However, in typically bold fashion, he suggested MLS would be quickly forgotten if he was no longer playing in the league.

"It's not about money," he said, as reported by ESPN. "I have another two months [on my contract]. We'll see what happens.

"[If I stay], then MLS is good, because the whole world will watch it. If I don't stay, nobody will remember what MLS is."

Ibrahimovic has scored 53 goals in 58 MLS games for Galaxy, including the playoffs, since signing from United early last season.

The future of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is once again in the headlines.

Lazio star Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain.

Now another club are reportedly in the mix for the Serbia international midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

Chelsea sent scouts to watch Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the Europa League, reports TuttoMercato.

One of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe, Milinkovic-Savic has attracted interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Milinkovic-Savic – who was reportedly set to join United if Paul Pogba left Old Trafford – was watched as Lazio lost 2-1 to Celtic in Glasgow on Thursday.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and The Sun claims Chelsea are interested in Bournemouth forward Callum Wilson and RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Manchester United have rekindled their interest in Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller, according to Sport BILD. Muller was wanted by former United boss Louis van Gaal before the Dutchman's departure in 2016. Now with Muller seeking a Bayern exit, United and Inter are in the mix for the Germany international.

- The prospect of Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Antonio Conte's Inter has hit a snag. According to CalcioMercato, the presence of agent Mino Raiola could cause an issue in talks. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract is coming to an end and the veteran has been linked to Napoli and Bologna.

- Sky Sport Italia says free agent Jack Rodwell is set for a shock move to Serie A outfit Roma. The former Manchester City midfielder, who spent time at Blackburn Rovers last season, is poised to undergo a medical.

Los Angeles FC finally beat rivals LA Galaxy 5-3 in a wild Western Conference semi-final that could have been Zlatan Ibrahimovic's last game in MLS.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the season and the former AC Milan, Inter and Juventus striker has been linked with a January return to Serie A via Napoli, Bologna and the Nerazzurri.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ibrahimovic was unable to prolong the Galaxy's season as LAFC prevailed in an eight-goal thriller to advance to the Conference final on Thursday.

Supporters' Shield winners LAFC had never beaten the Galaxy in five previous fixtures but they quickly moved to end that drought thanks to Carlos Vela's first-half brace at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC captain Vela broke the deadlock in the El Trafico derby, cutting inside onto his right foot and firing a low shot past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham in the 16th minute.

Vela doubled the lead in the 40th minute, when he was on hand to side-foot into an empty net after Brian Rodriguez's selfless pass, before Ibrahimovic teed up Cristian Pavon a minute later.

Ibrahimovic put the visiting Galaxy on level terms 10 minutes into the second half but their joy quickly turned to despair as quick-fire goals from Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande restored LAFC's two-goal advantage with 22 minutes remaining.

Rolf Feltscher set up a frenetic finale by reducing the deficit to 4-3 in the 77th minute, however Diomande's stunning solo effort ended the Galaxy's hopes within three minutes.

Bob Bradley's LAFC will now meet Seattle Sounders for a spot in the MLS Cup final.

In the day's other match, defending champions Atlanta United accounted for Philadelphia Union 2-0.

Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez saw Frank de Boer's Atlanta advance and earn an Eastern Conference final date with Toronto.

Aurelio De Laurentiis is convinced Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be a "driving force" for Napoli should the striker sign for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Ibrahimovic's contract with LA Galaxy expires in December, and the 38-year-old - who starred in Serie A with Juventus, AC Milan and Inter - has suggested he would be happy to return to Italy's top flight.

Napoli president De Laurentiis confirmed on Wednesday he had met Ibrahimovic by chance in Los Angeles and stated the former Sweden forward - who scored 30 MLS goals in the 2019 regular season - would be welcomed with open arms at Stadio San Paolo.

De Laurentiis expanded on those comments on Thursday, telling ESPN: "Ibrahimovic is a beautiful person, regardless of my Napoli team.

"He can still do a lot and he can be a driving force for the team. I'm convinced that any coach would love to have him at their disposal.

"Maybe even as a kind of reference point. He could be one for any team."

Napoli spent big in the recent transfer window to bolster their forward ranks, splashing out a club-record fee on Hirving Lozano from PSV.

The Mexico international so far has just one goal to his name in Serie A, which came on his debut against Juventus, but De Laurentiis is not concerned.

"Lozano's looked good. You need to be patient with new players who haven't played in Italian football before," he added.

"He must settle in a different city, with a new coach and team-mates. Lozano's a great player. As soon as he came on against Juve, he scored a goal.

"You can't have everything right away and you can't expect these players to fix problems right away. It's necessary to give them time and also the coach, who must find their best position.

"In the past 18 months, we've bought 13 players, so it's normal that it takes time for everyone to adapt and perform at their best."

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela remains keen on the idea of linking up with Lionel Messi in a loan spell at Barcelona at the end of the MLS season.

LaLiga giants Barca reportedly considered a left-field move for the former Arsenal and Real Sociedad attacker in January as they sought cover for Luis Suarez.

MLS MVP candidate Vela confirmed a deal was "really close" but the short-term switch failed to materialise as the Spanish champions instead signed Kevin-Prince Boateng, who barely featured in his six months at the club.

Were Barca to come calling again, though, Vela would seize the chance to return to LaLiga.

He told the New York Times: "Who could say no to playing with Messi for four months and then coming back to LA?

"Enjoy, learn and then come back home."

For now, Vela is focused on LAFC's playoff campaign and an El Trafico meeting with LA Galaxy in the Western Conference semi-finals on Thursday.

The Mexican scored a record-breaking 34 regular-season goals this year as LAFC won the Supporters' Shield, and this match has been billed as a showdown with Galaxy talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Earlier this year, Ibrahimovic rubbished suggestions Vela was the best player in the league, questioning why his rival was playing in the United States in his prime.

"I have not had the pleasure [of meeting Ibrahimovic]," Vela said, adding: "Maybe the people don't really love my decision [to play in MLS].

"But for me, it was the best option, and I'm really happy that I made it because I am enjoying it."

Toronto advanced to the Eastern Conference final after stunning top seed New York City 2-1 in the MLS play-offs.

Alejandro Pozuelo's dramatic 90th-minute penalty settled the Conference semi-final at Citi Field in New York on Wednesday.

New York's Ismael Tajouri-Shradi cancelled out Pozuelo's 47th-minute opener in the Big Apple, however, visiting Toronto had the final say after the 69th-minute equaliser.

Richie Laryea was brought down by Ronald Matarrita and Pozuelo stepped up to score the Panenka penalty midweek.

Toronto – MLS champions in 2017 – will contest their third Conference final in the last four seasons as titleholders Atlanta United or Philadelphia Union await in the next round.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 en route to the Western Conference final.

Following a goalless opening half, Gustav Svensson and Nicolas Lodeiro sent the Sounders through to play the winner of the El Trafico derby between Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy.

Alex Morgan has revealed she is pregnant just three months after helping the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

The Orlando Pride striker is expecting her first child with husband Servando Carrasco, the LA Galaxy midfielder, with a daughter due in April 2020.

Galaxy congratulated the pair on their news with a Twitter post on Wednesday, before Morgan uploaded pictures and a message to her Instagram page.

"We are already in love and we haven't even met her yet," she wrote. "Newest member of the Carrasco family, coming soon."

Morgan scored six goals at this year's World Cup - five of them coming in a record 13-0 win against Thailand - as USA defended their title.

She was nominated this week for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin.

The 30-year-old has not featured for Orlando since suffering an injury 13 minutes into a 2-1 victory over Chicago Red Stars in late August.

Morgan revealed last month the knee issue had ended her National Women's Soccer League season early.

Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis is eager to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic and says talks about a possible move have gone on "for a few months".

The 38-year-old has hinted he would be interested in a return to Serie A when his contract with LA Galaxy expires at the end of the MLS playoffs.

Ibrahimovic has said before he would like to play for Napoli before retirement, having previously won Serie A with Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, although his two titles with the Old Lady were revoked following the calciopoli scandal.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti, who worked with Ibrahimovic at Paris Saint-Germain, has already said the club are "waiting" for the Swedish star to arrive.

De Laurentiis, who met with Ibrahimovic in Los Angeles by chance, has suggested the player need only agree to a Napoli offer and the deal can be concluded.

"[Ibrahimovic] is a friend," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I met him in Los Angeles not as a footballer but as a normal person because we were in the same hotel.

"I invited him over for dinner with his wife and kids and we had an amazing time. It would be my wish to see him in Napoli colours. It's more than a suggestion and it depends on him. It's been talked about for a few months now."

Ibrahimovic has scored 30 goals in as many games in MLS in 2019, helping Galaxy reach the playoffs.

Having beaten Minnesota United 2-1, Galaxy will now meet city rivals Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference semi-finals on October 25.

LA Galaxy set up a blockbuster El Trafico derby showdown with rivals Los Angeles FC in the MLS Western Conference semi-finals after edging Minnesota United 2-1.

Second-half goals from Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos saw the Galaxy past hosts Minnesota in the first round of the play-offs on Sunday.

After a scoreless first half at Allianz Field, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Galaxy broke the deadlock via Lletget – who bounced on a deflected shot by the former Manchester United striker with 19 minutes remaining.

Dos Santos doubled the lead four minutes later with a curling effort beyond Minnesota goalkeeper and ex-Arsenal shot-stopper Vito Mannone.

Jan Gregus scored a late goal for Minnesota, but the Galaxy were not to be denied as they look ahead to a mouth-watering clash against Supporters' Shield champions LAFC.

In Sunday's other play-off match, Philadelphia Union prevailed 4-3 against New York Red Bulls after extra time in an historic victory.

The Union overcame the Red Bulls in a thriller for their first play-off victory, having lost their four previous post-season matches.

Philadelphia trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but rallied on both occasions to force extra time as Marco Fabian's 106th-minute goal sent the Union through to the next round.

Next up for the Union are defending champions Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semis.

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