Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Torres to Valencia, Barton to Everton

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Not a day goes by without rumors regarding Chelsea Football Club and top European strikers. But this one could be leaving Stamford Bridge, not arriving. Spanish international Fernando Torres has been lined up by Valencia, according to reports in Spain. Torres is apparently not in José Mourinho’s plans at Chelsea and the London club are open to letting him leave with a deal for Wayne Rooney lined up. But do we really believe this? Torres, 29, has stated time and time again that he’s happy at Chelsea and wants to see out the remaining years of his contract. Towards the end of last season it seemed as though he had turned a corner and started to score regularly again. But if Roberto Soldado leaves Valencia, they could use that cash to attract Torres back to his homeland.

Joey Barton could be on his way to his beloved Everton, as the controversial Queens Park Rangers midfielder will slash his wage demands in half if it means lining up for the Toffees. Barton, 30, spent last season on loan at Marseille but has now returned to parent club QPR following their relegation from the Premier League. But Barton wants a move back to the top flight, and it seems as though his hometown side Everton will offer him that chance. Is this a stupid or shrewd move by new Everton boss Roberto Martinez? Barton has the ability as a player, but we all know about his temper and bad decisions off the pitch. Can he turn his career around in his spiritual home at Goodison Park? Barton left this cryptic note on Twitter about the speculation.

Spurs have edged ahead of Chelsea, Manchester City and Roma to sign highly-rated Steaua Bucharest defender Vlad Chiriches. The Romanian international, 23, will help bolster Tottenham’s defense for the start of the season after Jan Vertonghen went down injured during their opening preseason friendly in Hong Kong. A deal for Chiriches could be around $10 million, with Andre Villas-Boas desperate to add some numbers to his squad as Spurs once again aim to challenge for the Premier League’s top four.

Liverpool are close to a deal for Greek international defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, as German club Schalke are set to lose the 21-year-old. Papadopoulos has been on Liverpool’s radar for quite some time, and now the Reds looks set to act quickly to wrap up the deal. Reports suggest a $20 million transfer fee has already been agreed and the move could be completed in the next few days. Liverpool certainly need to strengthen at the back, as Jamie Carragher retired and Martin Skrtel has apparently been offered to Napoli. Papadopoulos is a beast and loves to get on the ball at the back. A perfect fit for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

While Chelsea could take advantage of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale chase, by nipping in to sign German international Sami Khedira for $30 million. Khedira, 26, worked with Mourinho at Real and the powerful holding midfielder would fit perfectly into his plans. John Obi Mikel may be on the sidelines this season as Mourinho has been searching for a new man in the ‘Makelele’ role since he returned to West London. I think Khedira’s style of play is suited to the Premier League over Spain, so this would be a sound investment from the ‘Special One.’

More: Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, David Luiz to Bayern, Gustavo to Chelsea)

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET