Gonzalo Higuain close to Juventus move while others continue the chase

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Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain could be headed to Juventus.

According to reports out of Turin, the striker is poised to sign a four year contract if the two sides can come to an agreement over his transfer fee. Los Merengues want €30-35million for Higuain while the Bianconeri are willing to shell out €22-25million for the Argentine’s services.

The Italian side won the Serie A title behind an elite midfield and a robust defense that conceded only 20 goals the entire season. The offense, however, scored six fewer goals than second place AC Milan, prompting many to believe that this summer Juve will allocate serious money to build a top-rank strikeforce. Fernando Llorente is already set to join the Turin club on a free transfer while Higuain tops a wish list that includes Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez.

Despite notching an impressive 104 goals in 185 matches since moving to the Bernabeu in 2007, Higuain has struggled this season. The Argentine has been forced to split time with Karim Benzema, resulting in only 26 La Liga appearances (17 of which were starts) where he’s netted 14 goals.

Higuain’s drop in form may be one reason why the 25-year-old was recently put up for sale by Real Madrid, who have vowed to keep hold of Benzema and to bring two new faces into the club this summer. One of those faces could be Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, who Madrid are reportedly willing to spend up to £60million to acquire.

Spurs, however, have no intent of parting ways with the Welshman and are in desperate need of a striker after enduring long spells of the 2012-13 season with either no forwards or an underwhelming committee effort comprised of Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe and Clint Dempsey. Tottenham have also been rumored to be interested in bringing Higuain to White Hart Lane, valuing the Madrid striker somewhere in the region of £20million.

Should a deal not be worked out with Juventus, Arsenal is another club where Higuain could land. The Argentine be a major coup for the North London club. While Olivier Giroud enjoyed mild success in his first season at the Emirates question marks surround whether the former Montpellier man is a proper match for Arsenal’s style of play.

Higuain’s silky skills, link-up play and finishing ability, however, could be just what the Gunners need to challenge for next year’s title. And with a thick transfer kitty boosted by a £30m a year kit deal with Puma, Arsenal might finally be ready to splash the cash on a marquee signing.

 

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

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It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

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In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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