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Lion Links: 1/9/22

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Pato hints at contract signing amid reports it’s nearly finished, Lloyd Yaxley joins Kansas City Current, Insigne to Toronto is official, and more.

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MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers! Orlando City defender Kyle Smith enters his fourth decade of life today. Happy 30th birthday to El Soldado! Let’s start the day off right with some Lion Links.

Pato Hints at Reportedly Imminent Signing; Torres Reports Continue

Brazilian football journalist Venê Casagrande tweeted Friday that striker Alexandre Pato will soon re-sign with Orlando City on a one-year deal with performance incentives.

Later, Pato tweeted and Instagrammed photos of him with a pen in hand, suggesting he would soon put pen to paper for a club.

Rumors have swirled for weeks about a potential return to Orlando City for Pato. With the start of training camp only one week away, the Lions must add attacking firepower as soon as possible to replace the offensive production provided by Nani, Chris Mueller, and Daryl Dike.

Speaking of firepower, the reports that Orlando City is close to landing Facundo Torres continue across social media, with the rumored price between $10 million and $12 million for 70% of the player’s rights (Penarol would get 30% of a sell-on price).

Former Pride Goalkeeper Coach Lands in KC

One day after Lloyd Yaxley tweeted he was leaving the Orlando Pride, the Kansas City Current appointed him as the club’s goalkeeper coach.

“I am very excited to be joining the Current,” said Yaxley. “The ‘player-first’ philosophy that this club lives by creates the perfect environment for players to prosper and grow. The vision that ownership has for this club, on the field and off, is something I really want to be a part of. I am confident we will see Kansas City leading the way for years to come.”

The Pride hired Amanda Cromwell as their new head coach on Dec. 7 and the club has not yet announced any additions to her technical staff. The Lions and Pride continue to take their time on important decisions as their 2022 training camps and campaigns quickly approach.

Orlando City Goalkeeper Called Into U.S. U-15 Camp

Orlando City academy player Zackory Campagnolo is one of four goalkeepers in a 36-player training camp for the U.S. Under-15 Men’s Youth National Team from Jan. 7-14 in Chula Vista, CA. According to the USYNT, this is the age group’s first “traditional” camp since March 2020. The Lions’ intrastate rival Inter Miami CF has three players in the camp.

Toronto’s Insigne Signing Now Official; Laryea Transfers to Nottingham Forest

Italian National Team and Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne will likely be the highest paid player in MLS history after he officially signed a pre-contract yesterday to join Toronto FC this summer in a move that has been widely reported for weeks. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio and Sam Stesjakl report ($) report that his average annual salary will be approximately $15 million per year, adding that “only six MLS teams — LA Galaxy, Atlanta United, Toronto, Inter Miami, LAFC and New York City FC — paid more than $15 million in salaries to their entire roster in 2021.” Toronto FC finished a busy day by transferring Richie Laryea to EFL Championship side Nottingham Forest, making Laryea the second former Lion to join the Championship after Daryl Dike arrived at West Brom Albion last week.

Newcastle “Ironsided” by Cambridge in FA Cup

The fabulously named Joe Ironside highlighted a thrilling day of FA Cup third-round upsets by scoring for third-tier Cambridge in its 1-0 upset over Premier League side Newcastle on Saturday. Huddersfield Town knocked out Burnley, and non-league, sixth-tier Kidderminster Harriers, the lowest-ranked team alive in the third round, stunned second-tier Reading, 2-1. Boreham Wood knocked off AFC Wimbledon and will join Kidderminster as the only two non-league sides in the fourth round.


Free Kicks

Today is another full day of soccer on TV. In between some family time, I’ll try to catch most of the West Ham-Leeds FA Cup match and AFCON host Cameroon’s tournament opener with Burkina Faso. What will you watch? Enjoy!

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for breaking news on Pato and/or Torres. Have a terrific week!