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Barcelona pendulum swings to Daniel Agger, away from David Luiz?

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There’s always a chance Barcelona will pay for both, but whereas last week the soccer world’s Universal Rumor Mill was spinning David Luiz-to-Barça, this week its focusing on Daniel Agger. The Liverpool defender has been linked with a move to Cataluyna all summer, but with Luiz still at Stamford Bridge, it seems time to for the gossip pages to zero-in on the Dane. And if a deal for Agger isn’t completed this week, Luiz’s mug shot can go back on the cork board next Monday.

The potential Agger deal has the benefit of the player being interesting in the move. At least, that’s what today’s reports are claiming. Barcelona’s placed a $23 million bid for the Danish tattoosmith, it’s been rejected, but should the teams come to terms, Agger would actually be fine making the second switch of his club career.

From the player’s agent:

“We are aware that Barcelona have made an offer for Daniel that Liverpool have rejected,” said Steffensen, who was approached by an agent representing the Spanish club several weeks ago. “Daniel has a contract with Liverpool for the next three years and it would be up to the clubs to agree a fee for his transfer in order for that to change.”

That’s not “and he wants to see the deal out.” It’s also not “Daniel wants to play Champions League football.” It’s decidedly in the middle, perhaps an attempt to say “We’d like to see it happen, but we’re not going to force a deal.”

And everything you need to know about why a deal’s unlikely to happen this month, even if Agger forces it:

With Carragher gone, Sebastián Coates failing to convince Rodgers and Martin Skrtel’s position uncertain having been told he can leave Liverpool earlier in the summer, only to be informed last week that he would not be sold, the Anfield club can ill afford to lose their most influential centre-half. That was reflected in the response to Barcelona, who have targeted either Agger or David Luiz but have received no encouragement from Chelsea that the Brazil international is for sale.

So where does this leave Barcelona? It seems Gerardo Martino wants reinforcements at the back, but with the team’s high standard and limited time left in the summer window, there are very few candidates. That’s why they seem to be bouncing back and forth between Chelsea and Liverpool, but with neither club needing to sell or capable of weathering the loss of their best defender, it doesn’t look good for Barcelona.

The Spanish champions may need to target some depth players, hope Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra stay healthy, then concentrate on January. In the interim, they can start working with some clubs toward a winter buy, preparing them for the need to replace a key player in a way they haven’t with Chelsea and Liverpool. Hopefully they’ll have reinforcements mid-season.

That’s not ideal, and most elite defenders will already be playing in Champions League. Though Liverpool will have one guy who’s not.

 

PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur’s “To Dare Is To Do”

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The latest Premier League Download makes its debut on Sunday, as we dive deep into Tottenham Hotspur.

With a brand new stadium under construction and a solid look at perennial top-end pushes, Spurs are among the more intriguing stories in the Premier League.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Picks ]

Spurs host Stoke City on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN, and “Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare Is To Do” debuts at 11 a.m. EDT, right after the match.

Ahead of Boro, Allardyce rips his Palace players

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Sam Allardyce, Manager of Crystal Palace looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on February 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Sam Allardyce continues to have a public go at his players.

The embattled Crystal Palace boss says his resume should have his Eagles players latching onto his directives. He’s previously said he “thought it would be easier“.

The Eagles, seemingly, aren’t. Palace has dropped in form since Allardyce took over for Alan Pardew, and sits 19th in the PL table.

[ MORE: Who is Man Utd opponent Rostov? ]

That’s only two points from safety, and Allardyce isn’t massaging his players to get them over the hump. From The Guardian:

“The advice I’ve given [players] over the years must have been pretty good because I’ve been managing at this level for such a long time now,” said Allardyce.

“My experience and my qualifications are far greater than theirs. They can talk about tactics and systems, that’s fine, but they’re players are they’re paid to play. I’m the manager, and the system and tactics are my expertise, not theirs. When I set those out, they have to put them into practice. Stay focused, stay within the game-plan.”

Allardyce has won less than 36 percent of his matches at every stop except West Ham since 2007, and he went 68W-46D-68L with the Irons. Palace has a massive match against visiting Middlesbrough this weekend, and this is one heck of a risky ploy to motivate his troops.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 26

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Premier League action is back after the FA Cup break, with plenty of big games on the way.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every game

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush”

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Leicester City 1-4 Liverpool – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Hull City 2-0 Burnley – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

West Brom 3-1 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-1 Swansea City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Crystal Palace 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Everton 1-1 Sunderland– (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Watford 1-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Tottenham 2-2 Stoke City – (Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Report: Sounders on verge of adding AC Milan’s Honda

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 21: Keisuke Honda of AC Milan attends prior the Serie A match between AC Milan and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 21, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
Photo by Getty Images
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The Seattle Sounders may have a game-changing transfer on their hands (inasmuch as a game can be changed for a reigning MLS Cup winner).

AC Milan is reportedly willing to release Keisuke Honda from his contract, clearing the way for Seattle to add the 30-year-old attacker.

Honda has 36 goals in 82 caps for Japan, and has played just 15 minutes in Serie A since Oct. 25 despite his status as a regular call-up for country.

[ MOURINHO: Ranieri firing is absurd ]

This untenable situation would be a boon for Seattle, who would gain Honda despite recent gossip linking him to Watford, Southampton, Spurs, and others.

The idea of Honda on the pitch with Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey could spell a major sophomore season for forward Jordan Morris.

If this Japanese import has even a modicum of the success as another Seattle team’s look to Asia — See: Suzuki, Ichiro — look out.