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Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

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Almost: Argentina's Lionel Messi fails to score past Germany 'keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in Frankfurt on Wednesday night. Argentina won 3-1. AP

Manchester United, Arsenal reach deal on Van Persie sale


LONDON — Manchester United was set to complete the signing of Robin van Persie from Arsenal on Thursday after the Premier League rivals reached an agreement over the sale of the Netherlands striker.

Both clubs released statements on their websites on Wednesday saying personal terms still needed to be finalized and that a deal was subject to a medical examination.

No financial details were disclosed by either United or Arsenal, although British media has reported that the London club wanted £20 million ($31.3 million) for its captain, who has one year left on his contract.

"Arsenal Football Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for the transfer of Robin van Persie to Manchester United," the Arsenal statement said. "Van Persie will travel to Manchester on Thursday in order to agree personal terms and complete a medical ahead of the proposed move."

The Dutchman, who joined from Feyenoord in 2004, was the Premier League's top scorer last season with 30 goals. But he has refused to sign a new contract with Arsenal, saying he wasn't happy with the direction of the club.

Arsenal has not won a trophy since 2005 and has been unable to keep a hold of its leading players in recent seasons, with midfielders Cesc Fabregas joining Barcelona and no fewer than four players having left for Premier League champion Manchester City — Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy — since 2009.

If United completes the signing of Van Persie, he will join a star-studded strike force that already includes England internationals Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, Mexico forward Javier Hernandez and former Bulgaria international Dimitar Berbatov.

Berbatov would be the player likely to make way for Van Persie, as United looks to regain the English title from City after missing out on goal difference last season.

Argentina tops Germany


LONDON — It wasn't so long ago that Lionel Messi was being criticized for failing to translate his Barcelona form on the international stage.

Not any more.

The reigning three-time FIFA Player of the Year took his tally for Argentina to nine goals in his last five matches by scoring the team's second in a 3-1 win over 10-man Germany on a busy round of international friendlies on Wednesday.

It was a successful night for another South American power, too, with Brazil recovering in style from its loss to Mexico in the Olympic final by beating Sweden 3-0 away.

Brazil great Pele was in the crowd at Rasunda Stadium, where as a 17-year-old prodigy he scored twice in the 1958 World Cup final between the two sides.

World champion Spain beat Puerto Rico 2-1 away in its first match since retaining its continental title at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was on target for Portugal in its 2-0 win over Panama in Faro.

England beat Italy 2-1 thanks to Jermain Defoe's late goal, France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and Belgium beat the Netherlands 4-2 in other high-profile games as European teams used the matches to assess their squad options ahead of the World Cup qualification campaign that starts next month.

Messi, the scorer of 73 goals for Barcelona last season, seems to be reveling in his role as Argentina captain since being given the armband by coach Alejandro Sabella, scoring hat tricks against Switzerland and Brazil already in 2012.

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