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)

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

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.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.