Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Rooney to Chelsea, Ibrahimovic to Man City

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With Wayne Rooney returning to the UK after injuring his hamstring during the first few days of Manchester United’s preseason tour to the Far East, speculation is rife that a $38 million move to Chelsea is in the cards. Rooney is set to miss the next month through injury, but many believe he is back in England to finalize a move away from Old Trafford. José Mourinho is a big admirer of the England international and Rooney wants a fresh challenge away from United. Do we have another Fernando Torres situation on our hands here? Or can Rooney bring European glory to Stamford Bridge? I’d bet on the latter.

It seems as if Bayern Munich are close to sealing a deal for Barcelona’s talented youngster Thiago Alcantara. Former Barca boss Pep Guardiola is keen to bring the Spanish international to the Bundesliga and Thiago, 22, looks set to snub Manchester United and join Bayern. Guardiola is adamant that Thiago is needed in Munich, but where will he play? Obviously Pep has big plans for him but competition for places will be extremely high unless the Spaniard clears out some of the attackers at the Allianz Arena. Thiago and Mario Götze in midfield running into attack would be quite the duo, another season of dominance from Bayern beckons.

With Manchester City set to miss out on long-term target Edinson Cavani, they could bring Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the Etihad instead. It it understood that the 31-year-old Swedish striker is upset after Carlo Ancelotti left PSG and City are able to pay his massive wages so they’ve jumped to the front of the queue to sign the mercurial forward. City certainly need another striker and Ibrahimovic has scored goals by the bucket full wherever he has played. But can Manuel Pellegrini handled his ego?

Stevan Jovetic is still being chased by both Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, as the Montenegrin international’s future at Fiorentina is still in doubt. But the 22-year-old is edging closer to joining City, as they’re favorites to seal a $45 million deal for the exciting attacker. Is Jovetic worth that much? For a City team that struggled to score last season, he definitely is. His flowing long locks of hair often buzz in and around the penalty box, creating numerous chances and scoring quite a few himself. Chelsea may look elsewhere, as Jovetic seems to be heading to Manchester and join a fresh crop of attacking midfielders that will reignite City’s EPL title aspirations.

Arsenal may lose out on Brazilian international Julio Cesar, as the Queens Park Rangers ‘keeper is in advanced talks with Serie A outfit Napoli. Goalkeeper Cesar, 33, recently said he wanted to stay in London but the Gunners may be out of the race to sign him. Cesar shone at QPR last season, but with the London club relegated to the Championship he was always going to move on. Impressing for hosts Brazil in the Confederations Cup, Cesar could be heading to Naples instead of AS Roma and Arsenal. The Brazilian would’ve been first-choice at the Emirates and Arsene Wenger won’t be happy to lose a target many thought was in the bag. Unless Arsenal can persuade him to stay in England, their goalkeeper struggles look set to continue this season.

MORE: Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Suarez to Real Madrid, Benteke to Spurs

MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Benteke to Chelsea, Luiz to Barcelona

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?