Expansion franchise St Louis City's perfect start to their inaugural MLS season was ended by Minnesota United who triumphed 1-0 after Luis Amarilla's 78th-minute penalty on Saturday.

City had made MLS history by winning their first five games but that was ended by the Loons with Amarilla drilling home the spot kick after a needless challenge by Kyle Hiebert.

Hiebert brought down Amarilla just inside the box with a rash tackle when Jakob Nerwinski appeared to have Kervin Arriaga's wayward pass under control.

Substitute Samuel Adeniran came closest to equalising for St Louis, with a 95th-minute shot going over the bar after a great first touch from Klauss' right-wing cut back.

St Louis remain top of the table with 15 points from six games, but unbeaten Minnesota climb up to fourth in the Western Conference.

Cincinnati continued their impressive start to the season with a 1-0 home triumph over Inter Miami who slumped to their fourth straight defeat.

Yerson Mosquera scored the 45th-minute winner for Cincy, who are top of the Eastern Conference.

Giorgos Giakoumakis scored an early winner as Atlanta United moved up to second in the East with a 1-0 home win over New York Red Bulls, who are down in 12th in that conference.

Jordan Morris and Leo Chu scored first-half goals as Seattle Sounders stayed second in the West with a 2-1 victory at LA Galaxy, who are without a win and have only three points from five games.

LAFC remained unbeaten and third in the West despite a 0-0 draw at the winless Colorado Rapids, while SJ Earthquakes climbed to fifth with a 2-1 victory over Houston Dynamo with all three goals coming from penalties.

Vancouver Whitecaps snapped a run of three straight draws with a resounding 5-0 win over 10-man Montreal with Simon Becher scoring a double. Becher is the fastest player (87 minutes) in MLS history to score his first four goals.

Franck Boli rescued a 1-1 draw for Portland Timbers at Dallas, Chicago Fire and DC United drew 0-0 and Nashville triumphed 2-0 at Orlando City.

Federico Bernardeschi netted another spectacular goal with a strike straight from a corner in Toronto's 2-2 home draw with Charlotte.

Sporting KC remained winless after a 0-0 draw at Philadelphia Union, New England drew 1-1 with New York City and Real Salt Lake suffered their fourth straight loss, going down 4-0 to Columbus Crew.

Atlanta United lost their position atop the MLS' Eastern Conference standings after a surprise 6-1 hammering at the hands of the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Atlanta boasted three wins and a draw from their first four matches of the season – and had won their past two by a combined margin of 8-1 – but they were no match for an inspired Columbus outfit in front of their home fans.

Crew forward Christian Ramirez bagged a brace in the second half, while Alexandru Matan was credited with three assists in Columbus' second win of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris raced out into the Golden Boot lead with a four-goal haul in his side's 4-1 away win against Sporting Kansas City.

The 28-year-old American more than doubled his three goals from the opening four matches, opening up a two-goal lead on rest of the competition.

With Atlanta going down, it was the New England Revolution capitalising and taking over as the Eastern Conference leaders, overcoming a first-half strike from Christian Benteke to defeat D.C. United 2-1.

The loss left D.C. near the bottom of the standings with four points from five matches, where they are joined by Charlotte after their 1-1 home draw against New York Red Bulls.

Cincinnati are the only undefeated team in the East through five matches, securing their third win with a 1-0 triumph over Nashville, to go with two draws as they sit one point behind New England.

A 92nd-minute winner gave the Chicago Fire a 3-2 victory away from home against Inter Miami – their first win of the season – while two goals in the first 10 minutes were enough for Orlando City to prevail 2-1 against the Philadelphia Union.

LA Galaxy remain winless after battling out a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers, while it was more dramatic for the Vancouver Whitecaps as they needed a 98th minute equaliser to snatch a point in their 1-1 tie with Minnesota.

Austin FC let a golden opportunity to climb the Western Conference slip away as they dropped points in a 1-1 home draw against the cellar-dwelling Colorado Rapids, who doubled their points tally for the season with the result.

A 55th-minute penalty from Amine Bassi was enough to give the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win against New York City, while expansion side St. Louis City continued their perfect start to their first season with a convincing 4-0 drubbing of Real Salt Lake, leaving them the only side with the maximum 15 points from five matches.

In the late window, Los Angeles FC benefitted from a first-half red card to defeat FC Dallas 2-1, while Toronto FC battled out a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.

St Louis City extended their dream start to life in the MLS with a 3-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday making league history as the first expansion team to win its first four games.

The Missouri club powered past the Earthquakes with first-half goals from Nicholas Gioacchini and Joao Klauss, before Tomas Ostrak sealed the win in the 68th minute.

St Louis' fourth straight win surpassed the Seattle Sounders' three-win start in their debut MLS season in 2009.

The new franchise have scored 11 goals in four games, with Saturday's win marking their first clean sheet, having been forced to come from behind in all three other victories.

Argentinian midfielder Thiago Almada continued his stellar start to the new campaign with a  double in Atlanta United's 5-1 win over Portland Timbers.

The 21-year-old, who was called into Argentina's squad for the upcoming international window, netted a stunning free-kick in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-0.

Montreal upset 10-man Philadelphia Union with a comeback 3-2 win aided by a game-changing video review for Chinonso Offor's 90th-minute equaliser which split opinions.

The goal had initially been disallowed upon video review, only for that to be overturned when it was realised Union left back Kai Wagner, who was off screen from the initial angle, had actually played Offor onside.

Reigning MLS Cup winners LAFC were held to a goalless draw at Seattle, while last year's beaten conference finalists New York City got past DC United 3-2.

New England made it three wins from four games with Gustavo Bou netting the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Nashville, while New York Red Bulls came from behind to win 2-1 over Columbus Crew.

Chicago Fire remain winless after blowing a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Cincinnati, while LA Galaxy are also without a win after a 1-1 home draw with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Charlotte bounced back from their losing start to the season with a 2-1 home win over Orlando City, while Toronto beat Inter Miami 2-0, Dallas won 2-1 over Sporting KC, Houston Dynamo downed Austin 2-0 and Miguel Tapias scored late to earn Minnesota United a 2-1 win at Colorado Rapids.

Expansion team St Louis City made it three wins from three games to open their debut MLS campaign triumphing 2-1 away to Portland Timbers on Saturday.

The Missouri outfit became only the second expansion team in MLS history to start 3-0-0, with goals from Jared Stroud and Kyle Hiebert completing another comeback win.

Towering centre-back Zac McGraw had put Portland ahead in the third minute with a header from Eryk Williamson's set piece.

Stroud netted his second goal of the season on the stroke of half-time for 1-1, lashing in after Rasmum Alm's cross from the right side.

Canadian defender Hiebert came up with the winner in the 75th minute with his header finding its way into the back of the net from Eduard Lowen's free-kick.

St Louis have come from behind to win in all three MLS games to date and are the only team with nine points from three games.

Cincinnati produced a statement win, despite being reduced to 10 men, with a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders.

Brenner netted the winner in the 63rd minute, before Nick Hagglund's 80th-minute red card forced Cincy to hang on against the Sounders, who had won their opening two games.

Joaquin Torres came up with a 90th-minute winner with a long-range left-foot strike for last season's MLS Cup runners-up Philadelphia Union as they edged nine-man Chicago Fire 1-0.

New York City secured their first win of the new season after Christopher McVey's 36th-minute own goal in their 1-0 triumph over Inter Miami.

New York Red Bulls' winless start to the new season continued with a 1-1 draw in snowy conditions at Minnesota United, where Andres Reyes headed a 49th-minute leveller for the visitors.

Teenager Caleb Wiley scored a double with an assist as Atlanta United piled on three first-half goals in their 3-0 road victory over Charlotte who have lost three straight to open the new campaign.

Montreal were also left without a point after three games, going down 2-0 at Nashville, while Chris Durkin equalised in the 80th minute as DC United drew 1-1 with Orlando City.

Toronto drew 1-1 at home with Columbus Crew, while Vancouver Whitecaps and Dallas finished with the same scoreline.

Sporting KC and LA Galaxy drew 0-0, Austin won 2-1 at Real Salt Lake and 10-man SJ Earthquakes held on for a 1-0 win over Colorado Rapids after a stunning Cristian Espinoza strike.

Inter Miami take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday aiming to become just the third side in MLS history – after LA Galaxy in 2010 and Seattle Sounders in 2009 – to open a season with three straight shutout victories.

NYCFC have by far the better record in this fixture, though, having won six of their previous seven meetings with Inter, the most recent of those encounters coming in the first round of last season's MLS Cup playoffs when Nick Cushing's side cruised to a 3-0 victory.

Gabriel Pereira and Maxi Moralez scored six minutes apart in the second half and Heber added a late third to seal the win for the then reigning MLS Cup champions, although they tasted defeat against Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Final.

It was a familiar feeling for Inter, who have lost all three of their away games at NYCFC, losing by an aggregate 7-0 scoreline – the other two fixtures finishing 2-0 in the Pigeons’ favour.

Phil Neville's Inter did come out on top in the home regular-season encounter last time out, though, as second-half goals from Ariel Lassiter and Alejandro Pozuelo earned them a 3-2 comeback win.

City certainly had home comforts last season as they won 10 regular-season matches on their own patch – only Los Angeles FC (13) and Philadelphia Union (12) recorded more victories.

Inter did not fare so well on their travels in the 2022 campaign, winning just four of their 18 matches away from home, two of those coming in back-to-back outings prior to losing against NYCFC in their playoff showdown.

 

Inter, who are reportedly hoping to persuade Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi to make the move Stateside, have seen off CF Montreal and Philadelphia Union by the same 2-0 scoreline in their opening two games.

They join New England Revolution at the top of the Eastern Conference standings as the only sides with perfect records so far and are one of four teams overall in MLS to have won two from two.

It marks the best start the Herons have made to a season in what is their fourth campaign in MLS, with the aim for Neville and his men to improve on last season's sixth-placed finish in the Eastern Conference standings.

Neville has opted for the same starting line-up across both games so far, led by Josef Martinez up top. Landing 2018 Golden Boot winner Martinez was a big acquisition for Inter, but the Venezuela international has yet to find the net, while Miami have also had to cope without injured forward Leo Campana.

Instead, the goals have been shared between Sergii Kryvtsov, Shanyder Borgelin, Corentin Jean and Robert Taylor, while four different players have claimed an assist.

As for Cushing's side, the 2021 MLS Cup winners, they followed up a disappointing 2-0 loss at Nashville SC on the opening weekend with a 1-1 draw away to Chicago Fire.

Pereira opened the scoring for NYCFC at Soldier Field in the 39th minute of that most recent outing, but the Fire snatched a point through Fabian Herbers' deflected 75th-minute strike.

Cushing will take comfort from the fact his side are playing on home soil for the first time this season, with City having won six of their eight home openers in MLS.

 

Players To Watch

New York City FC – Gabriel Pereira

Pereira was the man who scored City's deserved breakthrough goal in the most recent match versus Inter Miami, and the Brazilian is also the only NYCFC player to score so far this campaign.

There is certainly a South American feel to the City attack, with 44 of their past 45 MLS goals (excluding own goals) being scored by players from that continent, including each of the past 19.

Pereira scored nine goals in 29 league appearances in 2022 – an overperformance from his expected goals (xG) return of 4.75 – while also chipping in with three assists. The former Corinthians winger will be looking to better both of those tallies this campaign.

Others, including Talles Magno, will also need to step up in the post-Maxi Moralez era, and the return of midfielder Santiago Rodriguez will go a long way to helping provide more creativity in the final third.

Inter Miami – Josef Martinez

Martinez arrived at Inter Miami in the close season boasting a CV that includes an MLS Cup, an MVP award, an MLS Golden Boot and also the U.S. Open Cup, all of those coming during his successful spell with Atlanta United.

 

While Miami have impressed early on, however, their star acquisition has attempted just two shots in his first two starts and has failed to hit the target with either of those.

Should Neville be worried? Martinez only failed to register a shot on target in successive starts on two occasions in his previous six seasons in Major League Soccer, doing so in May-July 2021 and September 2018.

New York City FC v Inter Miami CF prediction

NYCFC may have made a slow start to the season, taking just one point from six on offer, but being back on home soil this weekend provides a chance to kickstart their season.

Stats Perform's prediction model has given the hosts a 58.7 per cent chance of victory, compared to 16.8 per cent for Inter Miami. A draw is given a 24.5 per cent likelihood.

Momentum plays a huge factor in sport, though, and Neville's side make the trip to Yankee Stadium with a spring in their step as they look to prolong their best start to a season and remain at the top of the league table.

If they are to do that and come away with victory, they will need to score their first goal away at New York City in what is their fourth visit. Having a motivated Martinez up top will certainly help in that regard.

Lionel Messi moving to MLS to join Inter Miami would be "the biggest signing in history", according to the club's head coach Phil Neville.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with a move to the United States and is into the final six months of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are keen to retain the services of the 35-year-old, who added a World Cup to his plethora of titles last year, but a fierce fight could take place for his signature.

A move to MLS would see Messi follow in the footsteps of the likes of Miami co-owner David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, and Steven Gerrard, though likely sparking even more of a frenzy.

Neville believes it would be a signing like no other, adamant Messi is the kind of player his club need to be in the market for.

"I think this would be probably the biggest signing in history," he told the Athletic.

"I can't think of another star of that magnitude to come from a major footballing country to this place. This is maybe similar [to Beckham's arrival], but maybe even bigger.

"I think you're talking about one of the greatest footballers of all time. When you talk about Miami, we have to be in for players like that, you know?"

Should Miami manage to lure Messi to MLS, however, Neville accepts the club would need to make significant logistical changes to accommodate such a recognised figure.

"Things will be different. The trees might have to be bigger [around the training ground]. The security might have to be tighter," he explained.

"The walk the players have today over to that stadium, that might have to be different. The travel might be different. The hotels we stay in might have to be different.

"But really that might be what we're aspiring to be like anyway. It's exciting, but I think it'd be a massive challenge."

MLS commissioner Don Garber is keen for Lionel Messi to join the competition, though a deal would have to be "outside the box".

Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Inter Miami, as his contract at Paris Saint-Germain enters its final months.

In November, Messi's representative Marcelo Mendez denied reports that the seven-time Ballon D'Or winner would join the MLS club at the end of the Ligue 1 season.

Negotiations between Messi and PSG regarding a new deal are reported to be ongoing but, with less than four months remaining on his agreement, he could become a free agent later this year.

If a move to the MLS was to materialise, Garber explained that they would need to be creative in order to complete the deal due to the league's financial and salary cap rules.

"You're dealing with perhaps the most special player in the history of the game. So, when there are rumours of him connected to Miami, that's great," he told The Athletic.

"And if it could happen, it would be terrific for MLS, it would be terrific for Messi and his family, and like everything with us, we try to run every opportunity down. I can't give any more details than that because we don't have them.

"Teams have the flexibility to do unique things. MLS is a single entity. If you're selling something that the collective owns, the collective has to approve that.

"So, whatever [Inter Miami owner] Jorge [Mas] decides, with [MLS executive vice president] Todd [Durbin's] help to structure something, if we have the opportunity to do that, it's going to be outside the box.

"Because as you all know what's going on in international football today, with Ronaldo at $100million, the transfer market is just exploding in ways that are unimaginable.

"We're going to have to structure a deal that’s going to compensate him in ways that he and his family expect.

"What that is? Honestly, we don't know today, but he's probably not going to be a targeted allocation money player."

MLS returns this weekend less than four months on from one of the most exciting MLS Cup finals in league history.

Plenty has changed since Los Angeles FC beat the Philadelphia Union on penalties in early November.

Gareth Bale, who scored the dramatic LAFC leveller in a 3-3 draw, has retired, the Seattle Sounders made an underwhelming MLS bow in the Club World Cup, and Josef Martinez has left Atlanta United.

That is even before considering the arrival of expansion side St Louis City for the new season.

Those factors all contribute to Stats Perform's preview of the most interesting MLS teams to watch this year.

Inter Miami

There were finally signs of progress from Miami last year as they finished sixth in the East, only to be routed by New York City FC in the first round of the playoffs.

That was Gonzalo Higuain's final match before retiring, but the club looked to have already recruited his replacement in Leonardo Campana, who averaged a goal every 145 minutes in his debut season.

Miami have not settled for that solution, however, instead trading for Martinez from Atlanta.

While Martinez was the Golden Boot winner, MVP, All-Star MVP and MLS Cup MVP in the same season back in 2018, more recent campaigns have been slightly tougher.

Quite how Miami fit Campana and Martinez together remains to be seen, but they will hope to be a real force – at least in attack – in 2023.

Atlanta United

With Martinez gone, Atlanta no longer resemble anything close to the team who dominated in 2018, yet that does not mean they could not also be in for a big year.

Giorgos Giakoumakis has been signed to supply the goals up front, having led the Eredivisie and the Scottish Premiership in scoring in his past two seasons.

Giakoumakis should get plenty of opportunities to hit the ground running, with Atlanta ranking fifth in expected goals last season (57.5) but no team underperforming their xG by a wider margin (9.5).

Atlanta, like Miami, may have issues elsewhere on the pitch, but there will be understandable optimism about the prospect of the new forward linking up with Thiago Almada.

Almada was the Newcomer of the Year in 2022 and ended the year by winning the World Cup with Argentina.

 

Los Angeles FC

The last season could scarcely have gone better for LAFC, who pipped the Union to the Supporters' Shield and again to MLS Cup.

But as Philly no doubt prepare to fight back in 2023, this could be a trickier year for the reigning champions.

Far more damaging than Bale's exit was the sale of top scorer Cristian Arango, who could now be an opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League with Pachuca.

LAFC are on a collision course with the Union again in that competition, but last year's hard-luck story might prefer to focus on ending their wait for an MLS Cup title.

If LAFC do go all out for Champions League glory, they will risk derailing their league campaign – as has happened so many times in the past.

Seattle Sounders

No team can provide a better example for LAFC than the Sounders – both in how to do it and how not to do it.

Seattle won the CCL last year, completing their trophy cabinet, but it came at the cost of an awful MLS season.

So consistent in reaching the playoffs in each of their first 13 years in MLS, the Sounders fell well short in 2022, hurt by Joao Paulo's ACL tear in the second leg of the Champions League final.

The midfielder returned in the Club World Cup earlier this month, but Seattle fell at the first hurdle against Al Ahly.

Joao Paulo rejoins a highly talented squad, yet the wonder will be if largely the same group can run it back after following four MLS Cup final appearances in five seasons with two down years.

St Louis City

St Louis arrive in MLS in 2023 with a squad that looks every bit as short as one might expect from an expansion franchise reluctant to spend big.

Led by sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel, St Louis have shopped the German market with some fairly underwhelming results.

Neither of their two Designated Player signings, forward Klauss and midfielder Eduard Lowen, look especially likely to tear up the league, while their biggest name recruit is former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki.

That perhaps hints at a realistic approach, knowing a top-class keeper is required to stay competitive in their debut season, but Burki was hardly that by the end of his team at BVB.

He lost his place in the team in the 2020-21 season, having had the third-lowest save percentage in the Bundesliga (59.2) the previous year among goalkeepers with 10 or more appearances.

 

Reggae Boyz defender Damion Lowe is now a player for the Philadelphia Union in the USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS) after being acquired by the franchise in a trade with Inter Miami CF.

The trade was announced on Wednesday.

According to the franchises, in exchange for the 29-year-old Lowe, Philadelphia sent Miami $225,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), a natural first-round pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft and the Priority Homegrown Rights for Inter Miami II forward Shanyder Borgelin.

Sporting Director at Philadelphia Union is optimistic about Lowe’s arrival.

“Damion is an experienced defender who fits into our current needs,” he said.

“He’s an athletic, quick player and we expect him to be an important piece of our defensive unit as we begin a season that will require lineup and formation changes due to the unprecedented number of matches.”

Meanwhile, Inter Miami CSO and sporting director Chris Henderson, in a statement thanked Lowe for the time he spent at Inter Miami.

“We want to thank Damion for everything he’s done for Inter Miami during his time with the club and wish him the best moving forward,” he said.

At Philadelphia, Lowe joins his Reggae Boyz teammate, goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Josef Martinez has left Atlanta United for Inter Miami, replacing the retired Gonzalo Higuain.

Miami announced the deal on Wednesday after Atlanta confirmed they had agreed a contract buyout with the player.

Martinez had been with Atlanta since their debut MLS season in 2018 and is the club's record scorer with 111 goals.

In the 2018 season, he teamed up with Miguel Almiron to lead the Five Stripes to MLS Cup glory.

Martinez was the MLS MVP, MLS All-Star MVP and MLS Cup MVP in that campaign, as well as winning the Golden Boot and scoring the opening goal in the title match.

Atlanta went on to win the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup the following year but have increasingly struggled since Almiron's record-breaking move to Newcastle United in the Premier League.

They missed out on the playoffs in two of the past three years, and Martinez has now moved on to join Eastern Conference rivals Miami.

Under Phil Neville, Miami enjoyed their best season in 2022, finishing sixth in the East, but Higuain's retirement had left a gaping hole in their attack.

"Josef is a champion and adding him to our group is exciting for us as we head into the 2023 season," said sporting director Chris Henderson.

"He's been one of the best players in the league since he first arrived and we believe he'll make a difference here at Inter Miami.

"We're adding a proven goalscorer with a track record of success in MLS. We're thrilled to have a player like Josef in our attack."

Martinez added: "I'm excited for the opportunity to represent Inter Miami and give the best of myself.

"This is a club with high aspirations and that aims to be amongst the best in the league. I hope to help the team achieve its objectives and leave my mark at the club."

Atlanta technical director Carlos Bocanegra said: "Josef has played a pivotal role in Atlanta United's history, scoring memorable goals and hoisting multiple trophies for moments that will forever live with our supporters.

"He was a foundational piece who was responsible for helping build our brand into what it is today.

"We cannot thank him enough for his contributions to the club and the community over the last six years. He will always be part of Atlanta United and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours."

David Beckham's playing career may be over, but one Premier League club will list a Beckham among their ranks this season after the former England captain's son Romeo joined Brentford.

The young Beckham made 20 appearances for Inter Miami II – the reserve side of his father's Major League Soccer franchise – in the MLS Next Pro league last season.

The 20-year-old previously spent time in Arsenal's academy before being released in 2015, and he joined Inter Miami II in 2021 when the team were known as Fort Lauderdale CF.

In a statement released on Friday, Brentford revealed the winger would join their B team until the end of the season.

"Brentford are delighted to announce the signing of Romeo Beckham from Inter Miami CF on loan until the end of the 2022-23 season," the club said.

"The 20-year-old will join Neil MacFarlane's B team for the rest of the campaign to continue his development as he makes the temporary switch from the MLS club. The move is subject to international clearance."

Revealing Beckham had been training with the club since the end of the MLS Next Pro season, MacFarlane said: "He came to us from Inter Miami with the aim of working with us during their close season.

"Romeo has applied himself unbelievably well, he's really bought into the culture and the group which he has become a big part of. I love his standards and the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch."

The new recruit said he was relishing his opportunity, telling Brentford's website: "I'm very proud and very happy to be here.

"I came here at the start to keep fit during the off season. The chance then came to come on loan here and I've never been so excited."

Last July, Inter Miami coach Phil Neville defended his decision to bring on Beckham – as well as his own son Harvey – in a friendly against Barcelona, saying they both "earned the right" to feature in a game which ended in a 6-0 defeat for the MLS side.

Former France international and World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

The midfielder, who has not played this year after he was omitted from Inter Miami's 2022 roster, has officially called time on his career.

An 84-cap veteran for Les Bleus, Matuidi was a member of Didier Deschamps' Russia 2018-winning squad, starting four of their matches including the 4-2 final success against Croatia.

In a statement to social media, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus man spoke of realising his ambitions, and thanked fans for their support over the years.

"Football, I loved you so much," he wrote. "Football, you gave me so much, but the time has come to say stop.

"I accomplished my dreams as a child, my dreams as a man. It is with a tight throat but with pride that I turn this page today."

Matuidi, who made his senior debut with Troyes in 2004, spent over the first decade of his career in his home country, moving to Saint-Etienne, and then PSG in 2011.

There, he was one of several players who formed the bedrock of their emergence as the dominant force in French domestic football.

A switch to Juventus in 2017 brought three Serie A titles with the Bianconeri, before he joined Miami in 2020.

With seven domestic top-flight titles across his career, Matuidi was also a member of the France squad that came second at Euro 2016, and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour for his international success.

Lionel Messi is currently holidaying in his homeland after Argentina's World Cup victory.

But the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's club future is a hot topic, having put off any contract talks until after the event.

Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season, with former club Barcelona consistently linked.

TOP STORY – MESSI AGREES TO STAY WITH PSG

Lionel Messi has agreed to a one-year contract extension with PSG, according to Le Parisien.

The 35-year-old had put off contract talks until after the World Cup, which concluded on Sunday with Messi lifting the title with Argentina.

The report claims Messi and PSG have reached an agreement in principle, with the deal to be sealed once the Argentine returns to France.

ROUND-UP

– CBS's Ben Jacobs claims PSG will not let Kylian Mbappe exit the club in January and any off-season move will only be permitted at the right price. Mbappe was heavily linked with Real Madrid previously, but the move did not materialise, as he ultimately re-signed in May with the Parisians until 2025.

Barcelona have lost interest in Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, moving on from the idea of attempting to sign the 32-year-old on a free transfer in the off-season due to his age, claims SPORT.

Manchester United are interested in Aston Villa's Argentina World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, claims Football Insider. That comes with David de Gea's future at Old Trafford unclear.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Chelsea are on the verge of reaching agreement on a deal for Vasco da Gama's 18-year-old Andrey Santos. The Daily Mail claims the deal is worth £18m.

Tottenham will rival Bayern Munich in pursuit of Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer, according to GiveMeSport. Spurs are looking for a successor to veteran Hugo Lloris, while Bayern have lost Manuel Neuer to injury.

Christopher Nkunku has long been inked with Chelsea, with reports he had undergone a medical in September.

The 25-year-old Frenchman netted 20 goals in the Bundesliga last season and already has 12 this term.

The Blues are undergoing a period of change under owner Todd Boehly and new head coach Graham Potter – and could be about to land a big-name target.

 

TOP STORY - NKUNKU'S CHELSEA DEAL SET TO BE SIGNED

Chelsea are on the cusp of finalising the deal for RB Leipzig forward Nkunku with contracts set to be signed, reports Fabrizio Romano.

The Blues have reached an agreement with Nkunku's German club Leipzig for more than £52million (€60m).

Nkunku, who was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this month due to a knee injury, will apparently pen a long-term deal starting from June 2023.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN has reported that  Lionel Messi has not agreed to a deal to join Inter Miami from Paris Saint-Germain following reports that he is on the verge of a deal with the Major League Soccer club.

Chelsea are reportedly not willing to let Christian Pulisic depart on loan in January, amid links with Premier League trio Manchester United, Newcastle United and Arsenal. The Blues would prefer a permanent deal for the United States international.

- Sky Sport's Florian Plettenberg claims RB Leipzig's Konrad Laimer has reached a verbal agreement to join Bayern Munich at the end of this season, with a view to a long-term deal until 2027.

Edin Dzeko is set to earn a new one-year deal with Inter, according to Gazzetta. But the 36-year-old must accept a pay cut, from about €5.5m to €3m per season (plus bonuses).

- Ecuador international midfielder Moises Caicedo, who is currently on Brighton and Hove Albion's books, is drawing interest from Manchester United, claims Sky Germany.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Brighton are in talks with Molde to sign 19-year-old Ivorian striker David Datro Fofana. The Norwegian club want more than €10m (£8.6m) for him.

Lionel Messi is not in negotiations to seal a move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami at the end of the season, the Paris Saint-German forward's representative has declared.

Reports broke on Sunday that claimed the Argentina superstar was close to an agreement that would see him move to the United States after his contract with PSG expires next year.

Such a move would provide a huge boost to the sport in North America ahead of the World Cup in 2026, which will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico, with Messi previously indicating a desire to play in MLS.

However, his representative Marcelo Mendez has dubbed the reports as "fake news" and made it clear discussions are not taking place.

"It's false, it's fake news. There is no negotiation for Lionel to join Inter Miami next season," Mendez told CNN.

Messi is currently focused on leading Argentina to glory in the World Cup, having scored in both of his side's matches so far – including the opening goal in the crucial victory over Mexico on Saturday.

Argentina meet Poland on Wednesday, where victory will secure a spot in the knockout stage. A draw would also be enough if Saudi Arabia and Mexico finishes level in the other Group C match.

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