Josef Martinez tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during Atlanta United's opening game of the MLS season on Saturday.

The Venezuela international was taken off on a stretcher 69 minutes into Atlanta's 2-1 win over expansion franchise Nashville after colliding with David Romney.

Martinez's head coach Frank de Boer admitted after the game the injury "doesn't look really well" and on Sunday the club confirmed the 26-year-old would need surgery on a torn ACL, likely ruling him out for most, if not all, of the 2020 MLS season.

The striker has scored 77 goals in 84 games for Atlanta, including a then-MLS record 35 in 2018, when he was named the league's Most Valuable Player in a campaign that ended with United winning the MLS Cup.

News of Martinez's injury will also come as a blow to Venezuela, who have two World Cup qualifiers later this month and kick off their 2020 Copa America campaign against Brazil on June 13.

Thierry Henry made a winning start as Montreal Impact coach in MLS, while Javier Hernandez's LA Galaxy debut ended in a draw on Saturday.

At the helm of Montreal, Henry's Impact came from behind to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on the opening day of the MLS season.

The Arsenal great's side had fallen behind after just 13 minutes at Stade Olympique, where Teal Bunbury volleyed in a Cristian Penilla cross.

However, Romell Quioto headed in from close range to bring Montreal level just eight minutes before half-time.

And the hosts found an 80th-minute winner as Maximiliano Urruti spectacularly lobbed stranded New England goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Hernandez made his LA Galaxy debut in a 1-1 draw away to the Houston Dynamo.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward played 90 minutes as Houston came from behind, Mauro Manotas cancelling out Cristian Pavon's opener.

Atlanta United spoiled Nashville SC's first MLS game with a 2-1 victory at Nissan Stadium.

Walker Zimmerman scored Nashville's first goal to cancel out Ezequiel Barco's opener, but Emerson Hyndman's 37th-minute strike proved to be the winner in front of a crowd of 59,069.

Elsewhere, Oswaldo Alanis' brilliant 95th-minute free-kick helped the San Jose Earthquakes hold Toronto to a 2-2 draw.

The Colorado Rapids recorded a 2-1 win over DC United, Dallas beat Philadelphia Union 2-0, Orlando City and Real Salt Lake played out a 0-0 draw and Sporting Kansas City overcame the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo insists he has no desire to seek a move away from Juventus despite speculation linking him with a move to David Beckham's MLS franchise Inter Miami.

Miami are set to play their first ever MLS match on Sunday when they go to Los Angeles FC, finally completing a process Beckham and MLS began in 2013.

Beckham bought the club in February the following year and in January 2018 his team was awarded the 25th MLS franchise for the 2020 season.

Having built the squad from scratch, few players can be considered household names, but Beckham has ambitions to bring recognisable "big-name players" from European leagues to Florida.

Beckham even namechecked Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with both mentioned as possible future targets that could elevate the club's reputation, but the latter is in no rush to leave Juventus while they are successful.

"I'm happy," Ronaldo told Sky Sports News. "I'm in the best club in Italy.

"I'm playing alongside the best players, happy we won trophies last year, and this year I hope to win as well.

"As an individual I am happy. I went to Juventus to score goals and do my best and I am very happy."

The Portugal icon made his 1,000th career appearance last weekend and, although he is 35, he still plans to play another few hundred before calling it quits.

"It's a good achievement," he added. "One thousand games means that dedication, hard work and talent pays off.

"It is not easy to do 1,000 games at 35 years old. I'm so happy. It's nice but I hope to play hundreds of games more."

Ronaldo will not be adding to that figure this weekend, however, as the Derby d'Italia clash with Inter that was scheduled for Sunday has been postponed due to the state of emergency in northern Italian regions relating to the spread of coronavirus.

MLS returns this week for the 2020 season and some of the biggest names in league history are back too.

Former New York Red Bulls superstar Thierry Henry is the new head coach at Montreal Impact, while LA Galaxy great David Beckham is introducing expansion franchise Inter Miami.

However, Galaxy have lost the league's latest superstar after Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 53 goals in two seasons, returned to Milan.

Both Los Angeles clubs are still plotting big seasons, and champions Seattle Sounders look well set for a title defence.

We pose five key questions heading into the new campaign.
 

Can Chicharito follow in Zlatan's footsteps?

The biggest departure of the offseason was followed by the most significant arrival. Javier Hernandez has long been linked with a move to MLS, and Galaxy secured the signing of the ex-Manchester United striker as Ibrahimovic's replacement.

Hernandez does not have the same global appeal as Ibrahimovic, but he may ultimately prove a better fit at Dignity Health Sports Park.

While Ibrahimovic competed for the MLS Golden Boot, Galaxy continued to fall well short of team titles, playing a direct style that suited their talisman but not the rest of their squad. Cristian Pavon and company should now thrive alongside Hernandez.
 

Are Supporters' Shield holders LAFC one-season wonders?

Galaxy did not need to look far for evidence of what could be achieved by a team all pulling in one direction, with Hernandez's Mexico team-mate Carlos Vela leading Los Angeles FC to a dominant record-breaking Supporters' Shield success.

Bob Bradley's LAFC were a joy to watch, but Shield winners have struggled in recent years to maintain standards - Toronto FC providing the most striking example as they slumped from first in 2017 to 19th a year later.

Defender Walker Zimmerman has departed, striker Adama Diomande is starting the season injured, and LAFC suddenly could have their work cut out in 2020.
 

Could Seattle finally provide a serious title defence?

It is not just the Shield that has proven tricky to retain. Not since Galaxy in 2011 and 2012 have a team won MLS Cup two years on the bounce.

Seattle have played Toronto in three of the past four finals, winning twice, and yet there is a decent argument Sounders have not been the best team in the league at any point over this stretch. That should be about to change - despite the disappointment of Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League exit.

The defence has been restructured over the past 12 months, with retired centre-back Chad Marshall a big miss, but there is real depth in midfield and attack. Joao Paulo is an exciting addition, while Jordan Morris is in the form of his career as Seattle aim to build on their second title.
 

Will Henry bounce back from his Monaco misery?

Henry turned Red Bulls into contenders in the twilight of his playing career, but his coaching exploits have not been quite so successful to date. The Arsenal legend lasted just 20 matches in his first senior role with Monaco, losing 11 times and conceding 36 goals.

There was still excitement in Montreal as Henry arrived at Impact, though, with the club in need of a boost. They have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.

But this is no simple second job for Henry as he aims to prove Monaco was a disappointing one-off. Montreal have lost veteran captain Ignacio Piatti and are short in several areas.
 

Do Inter and Nashville look more like Atlanta or Cincinnati?

Beckham's Inter are not the only expansion franchise in 2020, as Nashville also make their debut. The league has swollen from 20 teams in 2016 to 26 today, and there are therefore plenty of examples to consider as they arrive in MLS.

The Miami outfit look to have taken heed of the ambitious Atlanta United, champions in their second season. For Tata Martino, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, read Diego Alonso, Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini.

Nashville's spending has been more modest, trading within the league, but that does not necessarily mean they will follow miserable 2019 basement side FC Cincinnati. Nashville at least look solid.

MLS side Real Salt Lake have announced the signing of former Italy international Giuseppe Rossi.

Rossi, 33, has been a free agent since he left Genoa at the end of the 2017-18 season.

The former Manchester United, Villarreal and Fiorentina striker escaped a ban in 2018 after testing positive for dorzolamide.

Rossi and his legal team insisted the banned substance, which is commonly found in eye drops, was consumed accidentally.

Despite being cleared to return to the pitch, it is only now that Rossi has found a club with RSL moving to bring him in on Thursday.

"It feels great to now be a part of Real Salt Lake," Rossi said. "I can't wait to step onto the pitch and help RSL achieve all the goals we've set this year.

"For me, MLS has been growing every year and has produced an exciting product. I'm lucky enough to have RSL be my first contact in the league during this process.

"The club's respect and kindness towards me is something I appreciate immensely. I can't wait to see and meet the fans and immerse myself in the RSL culture. Along with the rest of the team, I can't wait to begin this season and enjoy the journey together."

RSL finished third in the Western Conference last season and open their new campaign away to Orlando City on Saturday.

"It's amazing to have a player of [Rossi's] skills in and around the guys," RSL head coach Freddy Juarez told the club's official website.  

"It's a guy that can change the game at any given moment and he's seen it all and done it all so he gives the team confidence.

"Beyond his skills, he takes the time to talk and spend time with the young guys. It goes a long way when your peers can lead you and hold high standards."

David Beckham said MLS side Inter Miami have a "great opportunity" to sign superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona captain Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo have both been linked with moves to the United States – Beckham's expansion franchise Inter looming as a possible destination for the pair.

There is speculation Inter, who will make their MLS debut against Los Angeles FC on Sunday, could lure both players to Miami after Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath talked up the possibility.

Inter co-owner Beckham addressed the speculation during his appearance on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' on Wednesday.

"Well you know what, we've got great opportunities down in Miami," former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star Beckham said with a smile.

"We've been contacted by a lot of different players with possibly coming to join the team. As any owner, you really want the best players and if we have the opportunity to bring in players like Cristiano or Leo, I have such admiration for them as athletes, if we could bring those players in than great.

"But at the moment, we have a great roster. Young players, a couple of experienced players too, but a lot of young players who are just ready to play.

"One of the things I learnt from [former United manager] Alex Ferguson… he turned around to me and said whoever you bring in, they have to be the right fit for the club. It's not about the biggest name or personality, it's about who fits in best with the players.

"That's what we'll do. But like I said, as an owner if you want to bring these players in than we have a great opportunity."

Inter, who have also been linked to Manchester City's David Silva, Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, have a Designated Player spot available after signing Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini.

The 25th edition of MLS gets underway on Saturday and it promises to be the biggest season yet.

David Beckham's Inter Miami and fellow expansion club Nashville SC will enter the league, which will increase to 26 teams.

Seattle Sounders are the defending champions, record-breaking Los Angeles FC will look to go all the way this year after falling short last term, while Arsenal and Barcelona legend Thierry Henry is at the helm of Montreal Impact.

With the season set to kick off, here is a selection of the best Opta facts related to MLS.

 

- Only one of the last eight teams to debut in MLS have won their inaugural match, dating back to Portland Timbers in 2011 (LAFC 1-0 Seattle in 2018). Orlando City and New York City drew against each other in both teams' inaugural match in 2015, while the other five teams that joined the league in that time lost their opening match.

- Of MLS' last nine new teams, only one have failed to score in their inaugural match in the competition. Montreal lost 2-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps in 2012.

- Of the 14 teams to play their inaugural MLS match on the road, only two have managed to win; including Los Angeles in 2018 (also Chicago Fire in 1998, at Miami Fusion). Two more managed draws while 10 of the 14 teams that started on the road lost their inaugural match.

- The last six MLS expansion clubs scored in their first away match in the league dating back to 2015. Five of the teams scored one goal while Atlanta United scored six against fellow newcomers Minnesota United in 2017.

- The last three reigning MLS Cup winners lost the opening match of the following season, including Seattle's 2-1 defeat at Houston Dynamo in 2017 after reigning supreme in 2016.

- LAFC equalled the all-time record for goals scored in a single MLS season last campaign (85 – level with LA Galaxy in 1998). Their striker Carlos Vela also broke the record for single-season goals in MLS history; scoring 34 and beating Josef Martinez's record haul of 31 from 2018.

- Atlanta star Martinez has scored a goal against all 23 of the opposition teams that he has faced in regular-season MLS matches – Nashville will be the 24th different opponent he has played against in the competition.

- New York City's 177 points and 50 wins are both second-most over the past three MLS regular campaigns, both behind Atlanta (182 points and 54 wins). NYC are the only team that have won at least 16 regular-season matches in each of the past three MLS campaigns.

- Last season was the 10th straight in which New York Red Bulls qualified for the MLS postseason. The Red Bulls' 10 successive play-off appearance represent the second-longest active run (Seattle – 11) and the longest in the history of the Eastern Conference.

- New Impact manager Henry took charge of Monaco in Ligue 1 last season between October 2018 and January 2019. During his 12 league games in charge, he won just twice (17 per cent); which was the worst win ratio of every Monaco head coach to take charge of five-plus top-flight games in their history.

- Colorado Rapids have missed the play-offs in three successive MLS seasons for the first time since 2007-2009. They have collected just 106 points over the past three MLS campaigns, only Orlando City (104) have collected fewer among the teams that have been in the league for each season since 2017.

- 85 of LA Galaxy recruit Javier Hernandez's 89 goals within the big five European leagues during his career came from inside the box (96 per cent), including each of the past 30 of these strikes.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "doing a good job" at Old Trafford, according to club great David Beckham.

Solskjaer – in his first full season at the helm having initially replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December 2018 – has overseen a topsy-turvy campaign, with United languishing fifth in the Premier League.

United have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City this season, and drawn with runaway leaders Liverpool, but the Red Devils are still three points adrift of the Champions League places.

Despite United's struggles, Beckham – who played alongside Solskjaer at the Theatre of Dreams – praised the Norwegian boss.

"I think he's doing a good job," Beckham told Sky Sports. "The fact that he's stepped in and stepped up, and that he continues to be positive about players, he's got that from the boss [Alex Ferguson]. He would never criticise a player from his club and Ole has been exactly the same.

"He's still learning but he will protect his players and protect Manchester United. All of the fans will be behind him because he's a great person and because of what he's done for Manchester United over the years."

United have struggled since Alex Ferguson retired after guiding the club to Premier League glory in 2012-13.

Only twice have United finished in the top four – in 2015 and 2018 – following Ferguson's exit as David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have come and gone.

Bitter rivals Liverpool are 22 points clear atop the table and 38 ahead of United as they close in on their first league crown since 1990 and Beckham – now co-owner of MLS expansion side Inter Miami – said: "I think when you're a club as big as Manchester United and you've had the amount of success that we had, there was always going to be a period where other clubs have some success.

"When that success is being had by Manchester City or Liverpool it's always going to be talked about. There was always going to be a transition period, especially when Alex Ferguson stepped down.

"You had David Gill working at the club too and the players stopped playing, Giggsy [Ryan Giggs], Scholesy [Paul Scholes] and the Nevs [Gary and Phil Neville], they all stopped playing so there was always going to be a period when they weren't as successful.

"Is it hard to watch them now? No because I'm a real Manchester United fan and whatever the situation, I love watching them play. But let's hope it doesn't last for too much longer that we go without trophies because we are one of the biggest clubs in the world and not many clubs have that tradition."

David Beckham revealed there were times he thought Inter Miami "might not happen" as the franchise prepare for their opening MLS game.

Under the guidance of head coach Diego Alonso, Inter Miami begin their campaign with a trip to Los Angeles to face LAFC on Sunday.

Former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star Beckham, a co-owner of the new team, had dreamt of launching an MLS team after playing for LA Galaxy, but the 44-year-old was still surprised by the difficulties.

"It has been a long journey," Beckham told a news conference on Wednesday, via the BBC.

"There was never a moment when I said I would walk away but there were moments when I thought this might not happen.

"I have always loved a challenge. I didn't realise how big a challenge this was going to be, even down to putting tiles in the showers."

Nashville will also enter MLS in 2020 and recent expansion teams LAFC and Atlanta United have made a huge impact.

Atlanta were MLS Cup champions in 2018 and have made the play-offs in each of their first three seasons, while LAFC reached the postseason in their first two campaigns.

"Kicking the first ball this weekend is going to be success for me," said Beckham, who teamed up with Jorge Mas in 2017.

"But I didn't want to be in partnership with someone who was in it for a vanity project. I want my children to be able to say, 'My dad built this club'."

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Inter Miami have their sights set on a big-name signing, with Lionel Messi reportedly among the possibilities.

With David Beckham among their owners, Inter Miami are preparing for their debut MLS season beginning next month.

Messi has been linked with the MLS club previously and those rumours are persisting.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI STILL A TARGET FOR INTER MIAMI

Barcelona great Messi is among the stars who could sign for Inter Miami, according to OKdiario.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani are also possibilities, the report says.

Messi reportedly bought an apartment in Miami in December, while he can leave Barcelona for free at season's end despite being contracted until 2021.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus have other plans should Paul Pogba not return to the club from Manchester United in the close season. Sport reports the Serie A giants are considering a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, whose contract expires next year.

- Barcelona will announce Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite as their latest signing on Thursday, according to AS, which reports the LaLiga club are set to pay €18million for the Denmark international.

- Linked with RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Liverpool are seemingly considering their options. Bild reports the European champions are tracking Milot Rashica, the 23-year-old who has scored 10 goals in 21 games for struggling Werder Bremen this season.

- Hansi Flick's future is unclear. Bayern Munich will wait until May to make a decision on the head coach, who has attracted interest from other clubs, according to Bild.

- Could Adam Lallana be set for a reunion with Brendan Rodgers? Sky Sports reports Leicester City have approached the Liverpool midfielder's representatives about a move at season's end. Lallana and Rodgers worked together at Anfield and the 31-year-old is coming out of contract.

- After an initial move for Marcos Alonso in January failed, Inter are still considering the Chelsea left-back, according to CalcioMercato. However, the report says the Serie A giants are unwilling to pay Chelsea's asking price of €30m (£25.1m).

Reggae Boyz team manager, Roy Simpson, has pledged support for Darren Mattocks and said no decision would be taken regarding his position with the national team until a verdict in the case has been arrived at.

Mattocks will formally be advised of the charges against him on February 27, though reports have already circulated that he has been charged with one count of making a false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim, and another count of theft by deception in Carroll Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

“When I spoke with him, he was quite private with it. I didn’t press him about it. I just reached out to him to let him understand that the entire nation is aware of what has happened and that if he needs our support in any way, shape or form that he thinks we are capable of executing, we will assist,” Simpson explained on Jamaican radio station Hitz 92 FM during its programme, Sports Grill, earlier this week.

According to reports, the charges stem from a single-car accident on January 20 last year.

The reports, alleged to have come from the Attorney General’s office, said Mattocks and a passenger were aboard a BMW X6 from New York City to Cincinnati on State Route 70, near Monongahela, Pennsylvania, when the Reggae Boy lost control of the vehicle and crashed.

According to those same reports, the insurance on the vehicle had lapsed at the time of the accident and Mattocks is alleged to have taken out a new policy hours after the accident before making a claim.

Still, Simpson does not want to make too many waves until the case is complete.

“I wouldn’t want to pre-empt a verdict because you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you defend a situation and it goes the other way, so everybody is awaiting the outcome,” said Simpson.

The team manager also indicated that Mattocks was confident he would be vindicated when all was said and done.

“When I spoke to him he was quite confident that he would be vindicated so we await,” said Simpson.

The court case may have a very deleterious impact on Mattocks career in the MLS where he plays for FC Cincinnati.

Other reports had suggested that Mattocks, who has scored just three goals in 21 appearances for Cincinnati, was at odds with the coach and, in essence, the franchise.

“He also pointed out and we were aware that the relationship between himself and FC Cincinnati had been strained prior to this situation,” said Simpson, responding to reports that former Cincinnati coach, Ron Jans had said Mattocks was not in the team’s plans this season.

“It is a fact that he had asked to be traded and this situation has put a hurdle in his way. Hopefully, he can get through it and then start playing again,” said Simpson.

Mattocks is being represented by David J Shrager, who has pointed to Mattocks record of being a law-abiding citizen as part proof that the situation is just a misunderstanding.

Mattocks is a veteran of eight years in the MLS, playing in 207 league games and scoring 40 goals for Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and DC United, before his move to Cincinnati.

Mattocks has also turned out for the Reggae Boyz 45 times, scoring 15 goals along the way.

“My client respects both the laws of both his native country [Jamaica] and the United States. He has never been in any kind of criminal trouble whatsoever in his life, and this matter is merely a misunderstanding regarding insurance laws here in Pennsylvania. We look forward to clearing up this matter. We have been cooperating with the courts and continue to do so. We look forward to resolving this matter expeditiously,” read a statement from Shrager’s office.

LaLiga champions Barcelona are a club in crisis.

From public rows to allegations that say the current board were involved in hiring a PR firm to spread negative narratives about Barca legends, a claim the club have denied.

It has been a turbulent time at Camp Nou and MLS powerhouse LA Galaxy have looked to capitalise.

 

TOP STORY – GALAXY ENQUIRE ABOUT MESSI

LA Galaxy enquired about Barcelona captain Lionel Messi's interest in moving to the United States, according to Radio Continental.

Messi was involved in a public row with director of football Eric Abidal, raising doubts over his Barca future amid links to Manchester United, Manchester City, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain.

Galaxy head coach and former Boca Juniors boss Guillermo Barros Schelotto reportedly reached out to Messi's father to see if the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was open to swapping Barcelona for Los Angeles.

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba is confident he will finally be granted an exit by Manchester United, reports the Evening Standard. Pogba – still recovering from an ankle injury – has been linked with a return to former club Juventus as well as LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Independent claims United are in advanced negotiations with former PSG technical director Antero Henrique. Ralf Rangnick is also reportedly being considered.

- RB Leipzig's head of sport Rangnick is still being targeted by Milan for the role as head coach, reports Calciomercato. However, the Italian club are split as Stefano Pioli leads a resurgence.

- According to Tuttosport, Serie A champions Juventus are interested in bringing Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus to Turin.

- France Football says Barca are eyeing Galatasaray's teenage sensation Mustafa Kapi. The 17-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Chelsea have entered the race to sign in-demand Hellas Verona centre-back Marash Kumbulla, says Calciomercato. The 20-year-old Albania international is also wanted by Inter, Napoli, Liverpool, United and City.

FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans has quit the club after it was alleged he used a racial slur.

Dutchman Jans initially "stepped away" from his duties on Friday as an independent investigation looked into the claims made against him.

Now the 61-year-old has had his resignation accepted by Cincinnati, who said his departure was "the best course of action for everyone involved" with the club.

The MLS Players Association (MLSPA) said on Friday it had been "made aware of extremely inappropriate comments" made by Jans and called for an "immediate and thorough league investigation".

That has led to Jans, appointed last August, cutting his ties with the team with immediate effect.

The Athletic alleged Jans used the 'N-word' in the company of a number of players earlier in pre-season, and reported that members of the team met with an attorney regarding the incident.

FC Cincinnati president Jeff Berding said in a club statement: "As Major League Soccer's investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati.

"We place the utmost importance on a strong culture within our club, beginning in our locker room, and that every person connected with FC Cincinnati feels valued, respected and trusted.

"Racial and cultural diversity is a major part of what makes the game of soccer so special, and we place the highest priority on respecting every person involved in our game.

"This includes absolutely everyone associated with our club, from our locker room and front office, all the way through to our fans."

Jans has yet to make a public comment on the accusation.

The dramatic development comes just 12 days before Cincinnati begin their MLS season against New York Red Bulls.

Frenchman Yoann Damet, who has been at Cincinnati for three years, takes over as interim head coach.

The club said general manager Gerard Nijkamp was beginning the search for a permanent new first-team boss.

Rodolfo Pizarro has finally been confirmed as Inter Miami's second Designated Player (DP) signing two days after his debut in a pre-season friendly.

Inter - co-owned by former England captain David Beckham - are preparing for their first season in MLS in 2020.

The Florida club have reportedly paid Monterrey $12million for Pizarro after lengthy negotiations.

It was said Monterrey initially wanted $20m for the Mexico midfielder amid a complication with his release clause.

Pizarro scored in Inter's 2-1 defeat to Philadelphia Union on Saturday before the deal was belatedly finalised on Monday.

Inter have been linked with a host of big names from European football, including Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, and still have one remaining DP slot.

Beckham's team will make their MLS bow against Supporters' Shield holders Los Angeles FC on March 1.

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