Zlatan Ibrahimovic vowed he would draw on his inner "viking" as he weighed up the prospect of playing in the snow at Minnesota United in the MLS play-offs.

Ibrahimovic has packed his career with bold claims, regularly referring to himself as a "lion", and he remains bullish despite the potentially tricky conditions at Allianz Field on Sunday.

LA Galaxy have returned to the post-season but face a tough trip to surprise package Minnesota, who have hosted snow games in the past in the colder months of the year.

Star Galaxy striker Ibrahimovic, born in Sweden, does not foresee any adverse weather being an issue for himself or LA.

"I'm from Sweden, I was born in the snow," the 38-year-old said in an interview posted on Galaxy's Twitter page.

"When it snows, I'm a viking. When it's warm, I'm a lion. We adjust for every condition there is."

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in 29 regular season games in 2019, leading LA back to the play-offs after missing out in his first MLS campaign following a remarkable final-day collapse by the team last year.

Bastian Schweinsteiger will be remembered as one of Germany's all-time greats because he was "symbolic" for more than 10 years, according to his first Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Schweinsteiger, 35, confirmed on Tuesday he will end his playing career when the 2019 MLS season concludes, with Chicago Fire failing to reach the playoffs.

The midfielder has enjoyed an illustrious career at the top, spending 13 years in Bayern's first-team before also playing for Manchester United for just over 18 months.

But arguably most importantly he represented his country for 12 years after making his debut in 2004, helping them to a third-place finish as World Cup hosts in 2006, then again in South Africa four years later, before eventually becoming champions in 2014.

Hitzfeld gave Schweinsteiger his Bayern debut as an 18-year-old in 2002 and feels it was an honour to work with someone who went on to become a Germany icon.

"That was the time when I thought I could throw the boy in," Hitzfeld told Goal and SPOX of Schweinsteiger's debut against Lens in the Champions League 17 years ago.

"I had already seen in the training games what a high level and what great talent he had. Nevertheless, it is a long way [to the top]. As a coach, I experienced many talents who then fell by the wayside.

"For me as a coach, it was not difficult to shape him, because his great talent was already there.

"Bastian was a born footballer, you do not have to do much, just lead. That's why I'm glad he made that career. It was a privilege to work with him, because such a player is a gift for every coach.

"Bastian is one of the best German footballers of all time. He has shaped German football with his unbelievable game intelligence for more than a decade as a symbolic figure.

"His share in winning the World Cup was incredibly high. You cannot overestimate his performance.

"With this German mentality, with this fighting spirit coupled with his technical ability, he has fought until the end.

"He has preceded [others] as an absolute role model and has transferred his incredible will to the team."

Another day, another rumour about Christian Eriksen.

The soon-to-be free agent Eriksen wants a new challenge after flagging his intent during the previous transfer window.

A move to LaLiga appeals and a Spanish giant from the capital are reportedly ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE ERIKSEN 

AS and Marca claim Real Madrid are ready to make a move for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen in January.

Eriksen is a free agent at the end of the season, and the Spurs star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Inter.

However, Madrid are reportedly unwilling to wait until season's end as they look to strengthen their midfield.

ROUND-UP

Inter are eyeing Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, says FC Inter News. Matic has found himself out of favour under United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a switch to Serie A could be on the cards for the Serbia international, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to Calciomercato, Serie A champions Juventus are looking to sign Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri. The Italy international worked with Maurizio Sarri during the former Chelsea boss' time at Stamford Bridge.

Massimiliano Allegri has handed United a "deadline" for him to be given the job at Old Trafford, says La Gazzetta dello Sport. Solskjaer is under growing pressure, with the Red Devils enduring a difficult season and former Juventus boss Allegri has emerged as a possible replacement.

- Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil fears he has played his last game for the Gunners, according to the Mirror. Ozil has struggled to establish himself since Unai Emery's arrival and the former Germany international has been linked to MLS outfit DC United and Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- Le10Sport claims former Chile, Sevilla and Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is on the shortlist to fill the Lyon vacancy following Sylvinho's sacking. Sampaoli is in charge of Brazilian side Santos.

- Gianluca Di Marzio reports Claudio Ranieri is in the mix to take over at Sampdoria, who sacked Eusebio Di Francesco prior to the international break. Ranieri – who sensationally led Leicester City to Premier League glory in 2015-16 – last oversaw Roma on a temporary basis last term. Ex-AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso reportedly turned down the job.

- Manchester United are among the admirers of rising Mexico star Sebastian Cordova, reports Record. The 22-year-old America playmaker made his international debut for El Tri last week. The attacking third and midfield are areas of concern for United, who have also been linked to Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic.

Rebekah Vardy has denied leaking private Instagram stories from Coleen Rooney to a national newspaper, in a startling case of claim and counter-claim between the wives of two former England strikers.

Rooney, who is married to England's record scorer Wayne Rooney, posted a tweet on Wednesday in which she revealed how she came to suspect Vardy, who denies any wrongdoing.

In the message, she said Vardy – wife of Leicester City's Jamie Vardy – held the only account that had access to her Instagram stories.

Rooney said she had removed access to all users except Rebekah Vardy, and alleged a series of "false" stories that she posted on there found their way to UK tabloid The Sun.

Rebekah Vardy responded by tweeting a lengthy message to Coleen Rooney, who she claimed to have discussed the matter with on the phone, to reject the claim.

"This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it……" Coleen Rooney tweeted, along with an image of a longer statement.

Coleen Rooney's statement read: "For a few years now, someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories.

"There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family – all without my permission or knowledge.

"After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion.

"To try and prove this I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven't had stories on there for a while.)

"Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house.

"It's been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know for certain which account/individual it's come from.

"I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

"It's………. Rebekah Vardy's account."

In a tweeted reply, Rebekah Vardy said she had never passed on such information – despite claiming to have been approached to do so by journalists.

She blamed "various people having access to my insta" and was "disgusted" to have to deny involvement at a time when she was "heavily pregnant".

"As I have just said to you on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this," Rebekah Vardy's statement read.

"I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for.

"If you thought this was happening you could have told me & I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped.

"Over the years various people have had access to my insta and just this week I found I was following people I didn't know and have never followed myself.

"I'm not being funny but I don't need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you?

"I liked you a lot Coleen & I'm upset you have chosen to do this, especially when I'm heavily pregnant. I'm disgusted that I'm even having to deny this.

"You should have called me the first time this happened."

Rooney, who is also Manchester United's record goalscorer, will return to English football following his time with MLS team DC United when he joins Championship club Derby County in January.

Vardy has scored five Premier League goals for Leicester this season, with Brendan Rodgers' men riding high in fourth position.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped to unveil his own shirtless statue in his home town of Malmo on Tuesday.

The LA Galaxy star has been immortalised in a striking bronze monument near Malmo's stadium, where he began his professional career in 1999.

The 38-year-old posted a picture on Twitter showing him alongside the work and surrounded by crowds of fans, with the caption: "We are Zweden!!!"

The bronze Zlatan, standing on a plinth and said to measure nearly nine feet in height and close to half a ton in weight, was commissioned by Sweden's football authorities to honour their record goalscorer.

It depicts Ibrahimovic celebrating in recognisable style, with arms outstretched and shirt off - although his famous tattoos appear not to have been carved on the glistening torso.

Ibrahimovic hinted at the statue's creation back in December 2016, when he was still a Manchester United player.

The retired former Sweden international posted a photo on Instagram of the plaster cast of the work, writing: "When you come to New York you have the Statue of Liberty, when you come to Sweden you have the Statue of Zlatan."

Ibrahimovic is on a break ahead of the MLS playoffs, having scored 30 goals in 29 regular-season games in 2019 to help his team finish fifth in the Western Conference.

They face Minnesota United on October 20 at Allianz Field.

Bastian Schweinsteiger will go down in history as one of Germany's all-time greats, says head coach Joachim Low.

The 2014 World Cup winner announced his retirement on Monday after Chicago Fire failed to reach the MLS playoffs.

Schweinsteiger was an influential part of Low's side that triumphed in Brazil five years ago, when Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in the final at the Maracana.

The former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder accumulated 121 caps and captained the national team for two years after Philipp Lahm's retirement.

"Today we talked about Argentina, when Basti finished his career, a player with such a class," Low said when addressing the media prior to Schweinsteiger's announcement. 

"He was certainly one of the greatest players Germany had. Each one of us must have a picture of him in our head and that's the game, the final in the Maracana, blood streaming, he keeps getting up.

"He fights until he falls down. His will to win could also be seen in every action. He was a great player and a great personality."

Low says Schweinsteiger, an eight-time Bundesliga and one-time Champions League winner with Bayern, will always have a place in Germany's set up.

"Every player who has once played with us, is of course always welcome. Just as Miroslav Klose thought of it," he added.

"I know him, always open, always honest, always emphatic towards the fans. The fans liked him. For Bastian, we always have a place with us."

Bastian Schweinsteiger has announced his retirement from football following Chicago Fire's failure to reach the MLS playoffs.

The 35-year-old stated via Twitter that "the time has now come" to conclude his playing career at the end of the 2019 season.

In a message to fans, he said: "I would like to thank both you and my teams FC Bayern, Manchester United, Chicago Fire and the German national team. You made this unbelievable time possible for me!

"And of course, I would also like to thank my wife Ana Ivanovic and my family for their support.

"Saying goodbye as an active player makes me feel a little nostalgic, but I am also looking forward to the exciting challenges that await me soon.

"I will remain faithful to football. Many, many thanks for the time we spent together, I will always have a place for you in my heart!"

Schweinsteiger joined Fire in 2017 after leaving United and signed a one-year contract extension last January, but he could not help them finish higher than eighth in the Eastern Conference.

The midfielder progressed through Bayern Munich's youth system and went on to win 18 trophies in a 14-year career with the senior side, his crowning moment coming in the treble-winning season of 2012-13.

He moved to United in 2015 but struggled to impress in Louis van Gaal's final season in charge and was initially ostracised from the first team by Jose Mourinho when he took over.

However, he forced his way back into Mourinho's plans and scored his last goal in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Wigan Athletic in January 2017, shortly before leaving for MLS.

Schweinsteiger won 121 caps for Germany to become their fourth-highest appearance-maker, winning the World Cup in 2014 and becoming captain for two years after Philipp Lahm's retirement.

Los Angeles FC star Carlos Vela broke the MLS record for regular-season goals in his hat-trick performance, while Atlanta United's Josef Martinez scored on his return.

Vela shattered the record set by Martinez (31) in 2018 as LAFC ended their regular-season campaign with a 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids on Sunday.

LAFC's Vela surpassed Martinez with 34 goals thanks to his treble against the Rapids at Banc of California Stadium, while he also won the Golden Boot.

Vela broke the deadlock with a sublime opener in the 28th minute before the Mexico international's overhead kick doubled the lead three minutes later in Los Angeles.

Kei Kamara pulled a goal back for the Rapids in the 40th minute, but Vela restored LAFC's two-goal advantage six minutes into the second half.

Supporters' Shield winners LAFC – who broke the record for most points (72) and equalled the mark for most goals scored (85) in the regular season – will face either LA Galaxy or Minnesota United in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring but the Galaxy suffered a 4-2 defeat away to Houston Dynamo on Decision Day.

The Galaxy twice led, however, the visitors conceded three unanswered goals to finish fifth and set up a showdown with Minnesota – who lost 1-0 to Seattle Sounders as the latter locked up the second seed.

Martinez returned from a knee injury to lead reigning MLS champions Atlanta to a 3-1 victory against New England Revolution.

The Venezuela international scored Atlanta's second goal of the match to take his season tally to 27 goals as Frank de Boer's men look ahead to another meeting with the seventh-placed Revolution in the first round of the Eastern Conference play-offs.

Eastern Conference leaders New York City concluded their regular-season campaign with a 2-1 win at Philadelphia Union, Dallas humiliated Sporting Kansas City 6-0 and Wayne Rooney's DC United were held to a 0-0 draw by nine-man FC Cincinnati.

New York Red Bulls lost 3-0 to Montreal Impact, Toronto beat Columbus Crew 1-0, Portland Timbers accounted for San Jose Earthquakes 3-1, while Real Salt Lake edged Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 and Chicago Fire beat Orlando City 5-2.

Carlos Vela broke the MLS record for regular-season goals by scoring the opener for Los Angeles FC against Colorado Rapids at Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

Mexico striker Vela bent home a beautiful effort from 25 yards in the 28th minute to surpass Josef Martinez's tally of 31 for Atlanta United in 2018.

The LAFC forward doubled his tally just after the half-hour mark, sending an overhead kick past Tim Howard for his 33rd goal of 2019.

Vela will have his sights set on the league's combined scoring record of 35, held by Martinez after he struck four times in Atlanta's triumphant MLS Cup Playoffs campaign last year.

Wayne Rooney has predicted Liverpool will win the Premier League title, preventing Manchester City from becoming champions for the third straight season.

Rooney, a former Manchester United captain and the club's all-time record goalscorer, faces seeing his old team's two rivals fight for the title for the second campaign in a row.

Liverpool moved eight points clear at the top after Saturday's dramatic defeat of Leicester City, James Milner's 95th-minute penalty securing a 17th successive league win, with City in action at home to Wolves on Sunday.

Ex-England striker Rooney, who will join Championship side Derby County as a player-coach in January, feels it will be Jurgen Klopp's Reds who come out on top this term.

"In my opinion, Liverpool look the strongest," DC United star Rooney told boxing outlet iFL TV after Gennady Golovkin beat Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden. 

"City are a fantastic team. I think Liverpool have improved on last year. City have stayed at that level of great consistency. I think Liverpool."

Another of Rooney's former sides have had a tough start to 2019-20 with Burnley inflicting a fourth successive Premier League loss on Liverpool's city rivals Everton.

Pressure is growing on Marco Silva with the Toffees 17th in the table, a point above the relegation zone, but Rooney expects his boyhood club to improve.

"I think the players are too good to be where they are in the league," he added.

"Once results start coming, they'll definitely get out of it."

Another day, another Paul Pogba rumour.

Pogba continues to dominate headlines, even with the transfer window closed.

Having been tipped to leave Manchester United previously, a return to Turin could be on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA KEEN ON JUVE COMEBACK

Manchester United star Paul Pogba is still open to returning to Serie A champions Juventus, says Calciomercato.

Pogba is reportedly eyeing a United exit, three years after his £89.3million (€105m) arrival from the Bianconeri.

The France midfielder was heavily linked to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Juve before the transfer window closed in September and the speculation will not subside.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri is learning English as he targets the Manchester United job, says The Guardian. Allegri is without a club since leaving Juventus in the off-season and the Italian is keen on a move to Old Trafford should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leave.

- According to the Daily Star, United are lining up a £90million double transfer in January. With Solskjaer keen for reinforcements, the Red Devils are reportedly lining up Lyon forward Moussa Dembele and Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff.

- Having identified Ajax's Donny van de Beek as a midfield option before the window shut, Real Madrid are keen to watch more talent from the Dutch champions. AS reports that Madrid will look at Ajax in their next Champions League fixture against Valencia on Wednesday, with Hakim Ziyech, David Neres, Lisandro Martinez and Edson Alvarez all on the list.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are hoping to offload out-of-favour playmaker Mesut Ozil in January. The German has previously been linked to MLS outfit DC United, who are set to lose Wayne Rooney to Derby County.

- Former Italy and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta could be in line to become the next Genoa head coach, claims Il Secolo XIX. Aurelio Andreazzoli is reportedly set to be sacked if Genoa lose to AC Milan on Saturday and Motta, who also played for Serie A side Inter, could be his replacement.

- According to Calciomercato and La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira, Juventus great Claudio Marchisio is set to announce his retirement. The 33-year-old – a free agent since leaving Zenit in July – has been linked to Rangers, Brescia and Flamengo.

Carlos Vela equalled an MLS record on Sunday as Real Salt Lake and New England Revolution booked their spots in the play-offs.

Vela equalled Josef Martinez's record for most goals in a season, taking his tally to 31 in Los Angeles FC's 1-1 draw with Minnesota United.

The Mexican star put LAFC ahead with a superb curling strike from inside the area in the 70th minute at Allianz Field.

However, Michael Boxall headed in an equaliser for Minnesota, who trail LAFC by 16 points in the Western Conference.

Real Salt Lake secured a play-off berth courtesy of a 2-1 victory at home to Houston Dynamo.

Corey Baird needed just 35 seconds to put RSL ahead, but Tomas Martinez cancelled out the opener.

However, Jefferson Savarino's fine strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the area helped Real Salt Lake advance to the play-offs from the Western Conference.

New England moved through after a 2-0 win over New York City, who wrapped up top spot in the east.

Teal Bunbury and Gustavo Bou scored second-half goals for the Revolution.

Elsewhere, Bojan Krkic scored in Montreal Impact's 1-1 draw with defending champions Atlanta United and Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his 29th goal of the season in LA Galaxy's 4-3 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jordan Morris' late winner saw Seattle Sounders edge San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 as both teams finished with 10 men, Sporting Kansas City and Portland Timbers drew 2-2 and Colorado Rapids beat Dallas 3-0.

Chicago Fire and Toronto drew 2-2, Columbus Crew overcame Philadelphia Union 2-0, New York Red Bulls and DC United played out a 0-0 draw and Cincinnati drew 1-1 with Orlando City.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to join Boca Juniors and the move could still happen, according to one of the club's directors.

The LA Galaxy star's agent, Mino Raiola, recently rubbished rumours he was attempting to arrange a transfer for the well-travelled 37-year-old.

But Boca board member Jorge Anro claims Ibrahimovic's interest in a move to the Bombonera is real and insists a deal remains a possibility.

The former Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester United striker has spent the past 18 months in the United States, scoring 50 MLS goals.

"It is true that Ibrahimovic wants to play for Boca and it is true that we are in a position to bring him in," Anro told Mundo Boca Radio, as quoted by AS.

"The club is in a very good moment institutionally. It is so good financially that it can afford those luxuries.

"We would be able to pay Zlatan's contract."

Boca made a splash in July when they lured Roma great Daniele De Rossi to Buenos Aires on a free transfer.

Ibrahimovic is contracted to Galaxy for the rest of the 2019 MLS season.

Real Madrid could complete a deal for Christian Eriksen in the new year, while Barcelona have big plans of their own.

Eriksen was heavily linked with a move away from Tottenham in the close season, only for no switch to materialise as he entered the final year of his contract.

But that could change at the start of 2020, while Barca are also looking to the Premier League for a big signing.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WANT ERIKSEN SIGNED IN JANUARY

Real Madrid are hoping Eriksen will sign a pre-contract in January, according to the Mirror.

The LaLiga giants want the Denmark international signed before joining for free when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The report says Madrid are also targeting Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino with Zinedine Zidane under some pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports Tottenham are worried Eriksen will reject attempts to sell him in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Ernesto Valverde under pressure, Barcelona great Xavi – the Al Sadd boss – sees Manchester City star Raheem Sterling as a perfect signing if he takes over as coach, according to the Daily Mail. Real Madrid are also reportedly interested in the England attacker.

- If Pochettino leaves Tottenham, it appears there are several managers interested in moving to Spurs. The Sun reports former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is waiting in the wings if Pochettino leaves, while the Daily Mail says former Spurs forward Jurgen Klinsmann also wants the job.

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Camp Nou, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has ruled out moving to Qatar, according to Fox Sports. The Croatia international has previously been linked to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Barcelona are pressing for Spain not to take 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati to the upcoming Under-17 World Cup, according to AS. Fati has been a revelation for Barca this season, scoring two goals in six games.

- Linked with a move to MLS side Chicago Fire, Andres Guardado is set to stay at Real Betis. The Mexico international will sign a two-year contract with the LaLiga outfit, according to Estadio Deportivo, with his current deal ending at season's end.

- Claudio Ranieri is set for a return to coaching. The 67-year-old, who left Roma at the end of last season, could take over at struggling Ligue 1 club Saint-Etienne, according to Calciomercato.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped LA Galaxy clinch their spot in the MLS play-offs, while New York City thrashed Atlanta United on Wednesday.

Ibrahimovic scored and provided an assist as the Galaxy edged Real Salt Lake 2-1 in Utah for their third consecutive win.

The striker flicked on a header that Cristian Pavon ran onto and finished for the 50th-minute opener.

Pavon returned the favour 30 minutes later, laying off for Ibrahimovic to side-foot home from inside the area for his 28th MLS goal of the season.

Nedum Onuoha pulled a goal back late for Real Salt Lake, but Galaxy held on to climb into third in the Western Conference.

Alexandru Mitrita inspired New York City to a 4-1 win over Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium as they retained their six-point lead atop the Eastern Conference.

Mitrita opened the scoring from the edge of the area in the 14th minute before netting his second with an effort off the post.

The Romania international completed his hat-trick in the 34th minute, tapping away a rebound after a Brad Guzan save.

City's Maximiliano Moralez missed a first-half penalty while Pity Martinez struck from the spot for Atlanta – who were without injured star Josef Martinez – before Heber's late sealer.

Minnesota United came from behind to beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 and secure their spot in the play-offs.

Carlos Vela scored a penalty in Los Angeles FC's 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution rallied to draw 2-2 with the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union recorded a 2-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes.

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