Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Suarez to Chelsea, Pepe to City

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The weekend is almost upon us. But that doesn’t mean the transfer speculation and rumors are slowing down.

Oh no.

Clubs are back into the swing of things in preseason training and managers are finally talking about potential signings, as preseason press conferences continue. New kits, new ambitions and potential new signings are being discussed.

Let’s see what rumors are circulating around European soccer this morning.

This can’t be real, can it? After months of hearing Luis Suárez‘ desire to leave English football after the way he has been treated following various incidents which culminated in him biting Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, the Uruguayan forward is set to move to Chelsea. Reports from Spain suggest Chelsea have emerged of favorites ahead of mourinho’s old club Real Madrid after offering $60 million for the forward. Is José Mourinho mad? Or is this another management masterstroke from the Portuguese maestro? We shall see. But Suárez staying in England is all of a sudden a viable option. Linking up with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar at Chelsea could see the 26-year-old score a bucket load of goals. (AS)

Alvaro Negredo is being chased by both Manchester City and Tottenham, as the Sevilla striker could leave La Liga for the Premier League. Negredo, 27, looks to be closer to a move to Manchester, with Manuel Pellegrini a big fan of the forward. Negredo scored 25 goals in 36 games last season, and he could cost City up to $35 million as Sevilla hold out for a big fee. Atletico Madrid have already had a bid rejected for the Spanish international, as Sevilla would rather sell Negredo to an EPL club rather than a La Liga rival. (The Guardian)

Southampton have set their sights high as they aim to push on in their second season back in the Premier League. Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino yesterday confirmed that the $16 million deal to sign Celtic’s Victor Wanyama isn’t dead in the water and that the EPL side are also looking at Valencia’s Ever Banega and Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao. Getting any one of those three players would be a huge coup for the Saints. Can they pull it off as they aim for a top half finish this season? (Goal.com)

French international Loic Remy has been offered the chance to leave Championship side QPR for Newcastle United, following their relegation from the EPL last season. Remy, 26, would link up with plenty of his countrymen on Tyneside and was close to joining Newcastle back in January before choosing Rangers. Despite the R’s dismal season in the Premier League, Remy scored six goals in 14 games to make him QPR’s top scorer. But is Remy the right man for Newcastle? Probably not. With Papiss Cisse already on board, Remy is a very similar player. Can’t see this one happening. (Chronicle)

Manchester City are set to be back in for Real Madrid defender Pepe. The Portuguese defender, 30, has a reputation as a hot head but Pellegrini believes he is one of the finest defenders in Spanish soccer. City are a little bit short at the back, after Kolo Toure departed for Liverpool and Joleon Lescott only has a year left on his contract. But is he really what City need in defense? Certainly the $30 million price tag seems to be steep for a player clearly out of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans at Madrid. (The Sun)

More: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, El Shaarway to Chelsea, Cavani to PSG

More: Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Fred to Man City, Matic to Chelsea

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.

Honduran federation suggests U.S. Soccer gamesmanship ahead of WCQ

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Three critical points are on the line for the U.S. Men’s National Team and Honduras on Friday night when CONCACAF World Cup qualifying returns to action, but the Central American side may have some added motivation.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

In the lead up to their Hexagonal meeting in San Jose, California, Honduran federation president Jorge Salomon has suggested that his national team has had difficulty finding training facilities because of U.S. Soccer’s gamesmanship.

[ MORE: Five USMNT questions ahead of WCQs ]

Salomon told Honduran outlet Diez that Los Catrachos were forced to train in Fort Myers, Florida ahead of the match because of U.S. Soccer’s attempt to sabotage Honduras’ comfortability ahead of Friday.

“That’s why we went to (Fort Myers),” Salomon told Diez. “We found two (fields) but they weren’t up to the standard for a national team.

“They have blocked us from some fields to train, but that is part of the sporting psychological battle you face when you are the visiting team,” Salomon added. “It’s no problem, we have done a good job.”

Meanwhile, Goal USA is reporting that U.S. Soccer claims to have provided Honduras with the same resources that it does for every visiting opponent and that it was Honduras’ choice to train in Florida as “a cost-saving measure.”

Rapinoe named to USWNT roster ahead of April friendlies

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The U.S. Women’s National Team wasn’t at its best the last time they stepped out for the SheBelieves Cup, but Jill Ellis’ group will have a chance to find their feet again next month as they prepare to face Russia in a pair of friendlies.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

Ellis announced her 24-player roster on Thursday, which was headlined by the inclusion of Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

“This is our last chance to get together before the NWSL starts and we’ll take full advantage of the training time as well as the two matches against a team in preparation for the European championships,” said Ellis. “Following these matches, my staff and I will begin a heavy investment in attending and evaluating the NWSL games as well as tracking our players overseas before we get back together for our European trip in the summer. I’m very much looking forward to our domestic league starting.”

Back-to-back losses to England and France in the SheBelieves Cup gave the USWNT an unwanted start to 2017, however, the Russians will give the U.S. another strong test in April.

The USWNT will play the first of the two friendlies on April 6 in Dallas at Toyota Stadium before meeting the Russians three days later in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Here’s the entire 24-player roster for the USWNT ahead of their Russia friendlies.

Goalkeepers (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (6): Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Megan Oyster (Boston Breakers), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

Midfielders (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)

Forwards (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (UCLA), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)