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Football notebook: Malik Tillman picks USMNT, Idrissa Gueye controversy, Kylian Mbappe's decision and more

Fri, May 20, 2022
Soccer News (AP)

Football notebook: Malik Tillman picks USMNT, Idrissa Gueye controversy, Kylian Mbappe's decision and more

Despite an absorbing UEFA Europa League final which was ultimately won on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville, there has been a lot going on away from the pitch this midweek with big storylines developing all over Europe. Idrissa Gueye and his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe have featured prominently while there has been a lot of activity out of Germany.

Here are some you might have missed.

Gueye controversy

Paris Saint-Germain and Senegal's Idrissa Gueye has stirred up controversy in France after refusing to play for PSG against Montpellier HSC last weekend in a round of Ligue 1 games where the rainbow flag was added to the kit numbers in support of LGBTQ+ rights. The 32-year-old missed the 4-0 win for "personal reasons" and it is an "individual case," according to Mauricio Pochettino, while the French Football Federation have demanded an explanation after Gueye's representatives hinted that his repeated absence for this fixture was not due to injury or illness.

Why it matters: Homosexuality is against the law in Gueye's homeland of Senegal and can carry a jail term of up to five years while PSG are Qatar-backed as it is also illegal in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation. This comes in the same week as Blackpool's Jake Daniels coming out as gay to become the first professional soccer player in Britain since Justin Fashanu 30 years ago and the supposed homophobic reaction has prompted international teammates and Senegalese politicians to back Gueye's stance.

Mbappe's 'decision'

After months of speculation, Sunday is expected to be the moment when PSG and France star Kylian Mbappe finally announces where his future lies. The 23-year-old is due to reveal his decision on national television after hinting at last week's UNFP awards that he had "pretty much" made his choice.

"I do not know what his decision is," said Pochettino on Friday ahead of Saturday's season-closing clash with FC Metz. "It is something personal between Kylian and the club. I might have an inkling, but it is up to Kylian and the club to communicate it. There is a lot of information and many rumors. I would like for him to stay with PSG for many years. I am the head coach. It is not news and it does not mean that I know what will happen. I do not know if there is a fixed date on his choice either."

Why it matters: Mbappe's potential move to Real Madrid or renewal with PSG is one of the most discussed topics in sport right now. Not only will this announcement bring an end to a drawn-out period of speculation, but the nature of his expected decision also parallels with NBA superstar LeBron James' infamous "Decision" from 2010 when he joined the Miami Heat.

Tillman picks USMNT

Bayern Munich talent Malik Tillman has opted to play for the USMNT instead of Germany with the German-born 19-year-old qualifying for the U.S. through his father.

"We regret Malik's decision and it surprised us very much," said Germany's U21 coach Antonio Di Salvo told Kicker. "We encouraged him as a younger player in the U21s, placed a lot of trust in him and gave him match practice. We were also in intensive contact about his prospects up to the senior national team."

Why it matters: Tillman had been in the German setup since he was 15, so not only is this a coup for the USMNT, but it is also a blow for his native Germany with four Bundesliga appearances this past season suggesting that he is on the verge of breaking through.

Bundesliga coaching changes

Another week, further changes for German sides ahead of next season with VfL Wolfsburg, FC Augsburg, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Borussia Monchengladbach and now Borussia Dortmund all looking for new bosses with Niko Kovac expected to fill the Wolfsburg vacancy after Florian Kohfeldt left. Markus Weinzierl could replace Sebastian Hoeness at Hoffenheim while Adi Hutter might rebound from Gladbach with Hertha Berlin and Lucien Favre is being linked with a Fohlen return while Edin Terzic could return to BVB.

Why it matters: The Bundesliga is known for being something of a merry-go-round when it comes to coaching and this is no different to what we see most years with characters being recast in different roles. Marco Rose now being back on the market could mean that a couple of clubs suddenly take an interest in Germany and beyond.

Aubameyang retires from Gabon international duty

Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has retired from international soccer with Gabon who he led as captain: "After 13 years of representing my country with pride, I would like to tell you that I am ending my international career," he wrote in a letter to the Gabonese federation FEGAFOOT. "I would like to thank the Gabonese people and all those who have supported me in the good times as well as the bad ones.

"I will always have great memories like the day I made my debut, or the day I came back from Nigeria with the African Player of the Year award. Sharing it with everyone is an unforgettable moment. I want to thank my father who made me want to be like him and I hope I made him proud in wearing our colors."

Why it matters: Aubameyang is enjoying a new lease of life with Barcelona and after recent international controversies, the 32-year-old can finally focus on his soccer once more.

Iraola extends with Vallecano

Staying in Spain and LaLiga outfit Rayo Vallecano have announced that Andoni Iraola is staying on for another year with the 39-year-old coach having led the team to 12th in the table despite limited resources.

Why it matters: A rising star in the Spanish game, ex-New York City FC man Iraola will be on many clubs' radars for the near future -- notably his beloved Athletic Club.

Article Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
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