• Canadian international Jonathan David has verbal agreement to join France's Lille
    The Canadian Press

    Canadian international Jonathan David has verbal agreement to join France's Lille

    Canadian forward Jonathan David has a verbal agreement to join France's Lille for a Canadian-record transfer fee of 30 million euros ($47.3 million), according to a source with knowledge of the deal.The source, not authorized to speak because the deal has yet to be finalized, said the two sides are in the paperwork stage.The 20-year-old David, voted Canada's player of the year in 2019, tied for leading scorer in the top Belgian league this season with 18 goals for KAA Gent.Lille (15-9-4) was fourth in France's top-tier Ligue 1 when the season was put on hold due to the global pandemic. England's Leeds United and Arsenal were also reportedly interested in the young Canadian."He's a special talent,'' Canada coach John Herdman said last September. "I think he's got big things coming.''How special? With 11 goals in just 12 senior appearances, he is already halfway to matching Dwayne De Rosario's Canadian men's record of 22 national team goals. De Rosario, who doubled as an attacking midfielder and forward, compiled his total in 81 games between 1997 and 2015.Six of those David goals came at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where he won the Golden Boot as top scorer and was named to the tournament's Best XI.The previous Canadian record transfer was Alphonso Davies' move to Bayern Munich from the Vancouver Whitecaps. That July 2018 deal involved a fixed transfer fee and additional compensation that could total more than $29.5 million.David is a right-place right-time type of attacker. He can find a crease in the defence and knows what to do in front of goal, able to score with both feet or his head.Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., David was three months old when his family moved to its native Haiti and six when the family came north to Ottawa. He played for Gloucester Dragons Soccer, Ottawa Gloucester SC and Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club, representing Canada at the under-17 level.A trial with KAA Gent came in 2017 after a scout saw him on video. He went to Belgium twice that year, spending time with the second team before earning a full-time invitation. After finishing high school in Ottawa, he returned to Europe to focus full time on his soccer.David had to wait until he turned 18 in January 2018 before he could sign a pro contract. In June 2018, he turned heads in Canadian colours at the renowned Toulon youth tournament in France.He moved up the ranks rapidly after starting with the Gent reserves."Then from there, at the end of that season with the second team, everything went really really fast,'' he recalled in an interview last September. "I got in with the first team in pre-season, played some good games, scored some goals and had my opportunity. Then (I) kept scoring goals."From there everything just escalated.''He scored in his league debut for Gent with a late equalizer against Zulte-Waregem as a substitute.David made his senior debut for Canada in September 2018 in an 8-0 Nations League qualifying game against the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thirty-two minutes into the match, he was the youngest player ever to score for the country on his debut. Another five minutes later, he was the fifth player to score twice in his first outing for Canada.David set a Canadian men's record with eight international goals in 2019, a mark matched soon after when fellow striker Lucas Cavallini tied the eight-goal record a month later.David, who grew up a striker but he is comfortable playing all across the frontline, joined a select group with 20-plus combined goals for club and country.Since the turn of the century, Canada Soccer says only five other Canadian men have scored 20-plus goals in a calendar year: Tomasz Radzinski (2000, he also did it in 1999), Simeon Jackson (2009), Olivier Occean (2011), De Rosario (2011) and Cyle Larin (2015). This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2020.Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

  • MATCHDAY: Champions League back with City-Madrid, Juve-Lyon
    The Canadian Press

    MATCHDAY: Champions League back with City-Madrid, Juve-Lyon

    A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Friday with the resumption of the Champions League round of 16 that was put on hold in March:MAN CITY (2) VS. REAL MADRID (1)During the suspension of the Champions League, Manchester City overturned its two-season ban from European competitions to ensure it will be back next season. Now Pep Guardiola’s side can focus on trying to protect a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid to reach the quarterfinals. City completed the Premier League strongly, scoring 25 goals and not conceding in its last seven matches, although Guardiola's side finished runner-up and was beaten by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinals. Madrid travels to Manchester as Spanish champions after taking 30 points from 10 matches following the restart after the pandemic-enforced break in the season.JUVENTUS (0) VS. LYON (1)Despite securing a ninth successive Serie A title, Juve's form after the restart has been patchy. There have been four losses and two draws in 12 matches and an Italian Cup final defeat on penalties to Napoli. Lyon lost two cup finals to Paris Saint-Germain after the restart. Winning the Champions League is the French side's only chance of qualifying for Europe next season following a seventh-placed Ligue 1 finish. Lyon has been boosted by Memphis Depay’s return from a long-term knee injury as it seeks to hold on to their 1-0 advantage over Juve.COMING UPThe quarterfinal lineup is completed Saturday. Bayern Munich holds a 3-0 lead over Chelsea, while Barcelona hosts Napoli with the away-goal advantage secured from a 1-1 draw.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press

  • The Canadian Press

    French clubs vote to maintain 20-team top-flight

    PARIS — French league clubs voted to maintain the top division at 20 teams for the 2020-21 season, a move that ended Amiens' and Toulouse's hopes of avoiding relegation.In a statement following the vote of its general assembly on Tuesday, the league said the resolution proposed by the administrative council was adopted by a 74.49% majority of ballots.“The vote was held after a thorough examination of what was at stake in sporting terms in having a Ligue 1 with 20, 21 or 22 clubs and its impact on the fixture calendar of 2020-21 and the consequences for the health of the players," the league said. “The examination also took in the financial impact, the share of TV rights and the contractual repercussions with the Ligue 1 broadcasters."France's highest administrative court this month suspended the relegations of Amiens and Toulouse to the second division, ordering the French league to rethink the format of the 2020-21 season before the end of June.Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league was cancelled on April 30 with Paris Saint-Germain declared champion and Amiens and Toulouse relegated.The demoted teams proposed a 22-team league next season, arguing their relegation was unjust because there were no statutes in place for such a scenario, and that it was an arbitrary decision considering the standings could have been different if the pandemic had led to the league shutting down earlier.Their relegation is expected to be confirmed on Friday during the general assembly of the French Football Federation. The league will then adopt its match calendar for the 2020-21 season.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press

  • Barca 4-0 win at Mallorca features Messi and pitch invader
    The Canadian Press

    Barca 4-0 win at Mallorca features Messi and pitch invader

    Lionel Messi scored one and set up two more goals as Barcelona picked up where it left off before a three-month stoppage for the COVID-19 pandemic, beating Mallorca 4-0 to extend its Spanish league lead on Saturday.Messi was as quick and dominant as ever despite not having played a match since early March. He showed no signs of being slowed down by the right leg muscle pain he suffered last week that put his return in doubt. He darted past defenders with ease.Messi and the other starters also behaved and played as normal on the pitch, hugging after first-half goals by Arturo Vidal and Martin Braithwaite and not maintaining social-distance recommendations during cooling breaks.The game was played without spectators as part of the league’s health protocols to limit contagion risks, but that did not stop one man from invading the pitch briefly in the second half. The man was escorted off by security after he managed to take a selfie a few meters in front of Barcelona’s Jordi Alba,Messi nodded on a ball for Braithwaite to get his first goal since joining Barcelona midseason and double the second-minute opener by Vidal. The Argentine forward assisted Alba before he scored on his own in stoppage time.Once Messi probed the relegation-threatened Mallorca for its weaknesses, he began taking opponents on. Messi dribbled past four defenders in one run down the middle of the pitch in search of another goal, before halftime gave the hosts a breather.The Spanish league became the second major European league to resume when Sevilla beat Real Betis on Thursday. Germany started last month. Italy resumed cup action on Friday. England gets underway next week. France went the other route and declared Ligue 1 over.Barcelona increased its lead to five points before nearest challenger Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.“The sensations are good, to be the first match after so long not playing and under these special circumstances,” Barcelona coach Quique Setién said. “You could have expected a slower pace and a bit of rust as far as handling the ball, but I think we have made a good start to this final sprint of 10 games to finish the season.”Luis Suárez, who benefited from the long league stoppage to recover from right knee surgery, was with the rest of Barcelona’s reserves, wearing face masks and sitting in the stands with several empty seats separating them. The Uruguay striker went on for his first action since January as one of five allowed substitutes.Suárez laid off for Messi to speed around two defenders and fire in his right-footed shot into the top corner to complete the commanding victory with his league-leading 20th goal.In an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of matches, the TV feed for international viewers had digital “fans” superimposed on the vacant stands and recorded cheers similar to those used in video games. Spanish TV audiences can choose to watch the direct feed or the one with visual and sound effects.The sound effects included cheers when a team recovered a ball or had a promising attack. They also included cheers for the goals scored by the visiting team.HOPE FOR ESPANYOLLast-placed Espanyol got a much needed 2-0 victory over 10-man Alavés, which was hurt by an embarrassing mistake by its goalkeeper.Fernando Pacheco left his team down a man in the 19th when he earned a direct red card for using his hands outside the box to grab a high ball instead of heading it away.Bernardo Espinosa and Wu Lei scored for Espanyol in first-half stoppage time.ANOTHER BLUNDERValladolid also got some help from a defensive error in beating Leganés 2-1.Centre back Chidozie Awaziem tried to head back a ball to his goalkeeper, but ended up knocking it past him. Valladolid striker Enes Unal raced in and scored in an empty net two minutes into the match.Elsewhere, Manuel Trigueros struck in stoppage time to snatch Villarreal a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo, which failed to defend Villarreal's final push.___More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsJoseph Wilson, The Associated Press