Kick Off: Anelka announces he's joining a new club

After his departure from English side Chelsea was made public over the weekend, French forward Nicolas Anelka has already made up his mind which club he’ll play for next.

“I’ve known for a little while where I’ll be on January 2,” Anelka revealed. The speculation is that the two clubs competing for his signature will be the expansion Montreal Impact in MLS or Shenua in China although Italian side AC Milan is also said to be a possible suitor in reports this morning.

Now the Daily Mail says that Didier Drogba is next to exit Stamford Bridge. The English daily claims there will be a second, larger wave of players to bid farewell to Chelsea in January and the Ivorian is in the group.

Could French forwards Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet all play in MLS in the same season? Trezeguet is now a free agent after abandoning Bani Yas in the United Arab Emirates. “David did not want to be here and I do not want unhappy players at the club,” the club’s coach said.

While Anelka news dominated the hot stove talk this weekend, Alessandro Del Piero’s suitors suffered a scare. The Italian legend went down in a heap in the match against Cesena and was forced to spend the night at a local hospital. At least he can smile about it.

If Del Piero feels he can keep playing at 36, ex-D.C. United player Santino Quaranta is hanging them up at the age of 27 and will not be available in today’s Stage 1 Re-Entry Draft. Although five clubs were apparently interested in him, he says that “I kept asking myself: ‘What are you doing this for anymore?’ I don’t feel like I’ve got anything more to accomplish. It’s time.”

For South Korean international Lee Young-Pyo, the MLS adventure is just beginning as reports in Vancouver say the veteran landed in the city on Sunday and is on the verge of signing with the club.

The Columbus Crew are looking for two strikers and a field general this offseason, according to manager Robert Warzycha. It’ll come via trade or international signing since midfielder Tony Tchani admits he’s “not comfortable” being that field general.

Although they don’t have a head coach, the Colorado Rapids re-signed one of their midfield generals as sources tell the Denver Post that Brian Mullan has inked a new deal.

Although two consecutive losing seasons cost Steve Nicol his job, they resulted in a promotion for Shalrie Joseph to Designated Player with the New England Revolution.

Don’t expect an answer on the future of LA Galaxy midfield star David Beckham until after the new year. Beckham, who was visiting children at an Australian hospital, said so himself from Down Under, where the Galaxy will look to win the third straight match on their Asia Pacific tour early tomorrow morning (3:30 a.m. ET, Fox Soccer).

Watch Beckham in this interview with an Australian outlet during which he tells a story of following Jack Nicholson into a bathroom stall and more importantly for Galaxy fans, he says, “I’m still a Galaxy player right now and that might not change.” (VIDEO)

The MLS Generation adidas squad will watch that Galaxy match from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where they will be stationed for a 10-day camp. Their flight to Europe departs today.

Looking ahead to January’s SuperDraft, Ives Galarcep takes a stab at the players who shape up to be the 40 top prospects.

One player who was touted as a major prospect in American circles was Lee Nguyen, who plied his trade in Vietnam recently. But he is now apparently back in the US and in MLS, according to this tweet.

The best of the youngest prospects in America, the US Under-17 national team, handed Brazil a 3-1 defeat on Sunday. New York Red Bulls fans will be particularly pleased, as five Red Bull Academy players featured on the US U-17 squad in Florida this week.

The man of the match was midfielder Junior Flores. How impressive was he? Fans gave him a standing ovation and then were coming up to him after the game asking him for autographs. “He’s very special,” U-17 manager Wilmer Cabrera said. “I don’t have to say anything, it’s very special. And he proved it over here against Brazil.”

Today marks the first day of training for Tim Ream with West Bromwich Albion just days after D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid spent time with the club. Manager Roy Hodgson talks about how Ream’s training stint came about in this article.

Costa Rica’s La Republica says that Josué Martínez has played his last game for Saprissa and that a move to the Philadelphia Union is imminent. (SPANISH)

Meanwhile, in El Salvador, Isidro Metapán forward Andrés “Ruso” Flores indicates that a few days ago he held conversations with representatives from Chivas USA. (SPANISH)

This outlet says that forward Jaime Alberto Castrillón is one of several players who wants out of Colombian side Deportivo Independiente Medellín when their contract expires in December given the club’s administrative troubles. The article states that his options include MLS or Puebla in Mexico.

In Dallas, the speculation revolves around the name of the person that will succeed Barry Gorman as technical director of the club. 3rd Degree believes there are three internal candidates who should be considered.

In TV action later today, there’s Serie A action with Lazio facing Novara on Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes (2:30 p.m. ET). There’s also a match from La Liga with Sevilla battling Getafe (3 p.m. ET, GolTV). But the match of the day from an American perspective has to be Clint Dempsey and Fulham FC going up against American-owned Liverpool (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

One of the best goals from the weekend of matches was a bicycle kick by Mexican Carlos Vela in Real Sociedad’s stirring comeback against Málaga. There was also Ángel di María’s opener for Real Madrid, a rare strike from the tightest of angles. (VIDEO)

It was announced today that Di Maria’s teammates on both club and country – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – are the finalists for the Balon d’Or, awarded to the world’s Player of the Year.

While Manchester United are still smarting over the injury suffered by Javier “Chicharito” Hernández on Saturday, the Red Devils also found out they’ll have to play Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup. It’s one of only two all-EPL matchups in the entire draw.

In South America, champions were crowned in Argentina (Boca Juniors), Brazil (Corinthians) and Uruguay (Nacional). Watch the festivities in Buenos Aires, where Boca Juniors made their victory lap with trophy in hand.

In Brazil, Corinthians captured the league title on the same day club legend Sócrates passed away. Here are some of the early tributes for Brazil's 1982 World Cup captain. Here’s the best write-up about what Socrates represented on and off the field.

As the season concludes in Brazil, Ronaldinho says his future is up in the air with Flamengo after the club has not paid him in the last four months. It’s yet unclear whether an MLS move is possible.

Meanwhile, the final is set in Mexico, where Jonathan Bornstein and Tigres UANL take on the club that was nearly handed to Bob Bradley: Santos Laguna. The first leg takes place Thursday.

Back in the USA, Stanford won the NCAA women’s championship with a 1-0 win over Duke. Meanwhile, the final four in the men’s tournament are: Charlotte, North Carolina, UCLA and Creighton. Here are the semifinal matchups.

In the women’s game, one WPS owner believes that the five-team league will come away with Division I sanctioning by the US Soccer Federation when all is said and done.

Lastly, amid the Boca Juniors celebrations – including these on the streets of Buenos Aires – there was this copycat interview: Watch forward Darío Cvitanich give a smooch to his girlfriend Chechu Bonelli on the air after an interview just like Iker Casillas did after Spain’s World Cup triumph.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Re-Entry Redux: The updated list of players available in Monday’s Stage 1 Re-Entry Draft

Mexican side Club Tijuana have grand plans to be SoCal’s soccer team

Gringo Report: American GK Restrepo starts playoff series for América de Cali


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