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Top five transfer targets this summer: Will they go in the window?

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With Monday’s transfer deadline edging ever closer, certain players still have no clue which team they’ll be playing for when September 2 arrives.

This summer window has seen an unprecedented number of long-term transfer saga’s play out at some of England’s top clubs. You know who we’re talking about.

But with less than a week to go until the dreaded transfer window shuts, will any of these drawn out episodes come to a finale?

(MORE: Premier League club-by-club needs, as transfer deadline looms)

Remember, clubs can’t add to their squad until January 1 at the earliest. So expect a flurry of business this week as deals go down to the wire.

Will any of the following players be involved in a big money transfer?

source: Getty ImagesGareth Bale

Okay, so we have pretty much heard this one is a done deal for quite some time now. But until we see the Welshman shaking hands with Florentino Perez and Alfredo di Stefano with the number 11 Real Madrid shirt in his hands, we have to expect this isn’t completely done and dusted.

Bale, 23, hasn’t featured for Tottenham in their opening three games of the season and is apparently injured. The reining PFA Player of the Year will apparently swap White Hart Lane for the Santiago Bernabeu for a world record fee of $129 million.

On Monday morning reports of Manchester United becoming involved surfaced, but that’s probably a ploy from Spurs to try and hustle a few more million or a player in exchange out of Real Madrid. Bale has his heart set on a move to Madrid and all signs lead towards that being finalized later this week.

But until we see it with our own eyes, Bale can’t surely stay at Spurs this season… can he?

source:  Luis Suárez

Will he really leave Liverpool this week? Rumors flying around over the weekend suggest that Liverpool have tied down the tricky Uruguayan to a new contract and all will be forgotten. But will Arsenal or Real Madrid, or anybody else for that matter, table a sneaky last minute bid to try and catch Liverpool off guard? The 26-year-old forward will be essential to Liverpool pushing into the top four and getting the Champions League soccer everyone involved with the Reds craves.

Suárez has been the subject of two failed bids from Arsenal and with Liverpool’s American owner John W. Henry sticking to his guns about keeping his prized possession, this transfer window may end with Suárez in the same place his started it. Liverpool Football Club.

After all the talk, tantrums, speculation and furor this little guy has caused, it’s astonishing that Liverpool could keep hold of him.

source: Getty ImagesWayne Rooney

On Monday night at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney will play for Manchester United against Chelsea in a gigantic Premier League clash.

Next Monday we could well see Rooney smiling whilst holding up a Chelsea shirt with his name on it.

The Blue badly want England’s star forward and have already had two bids rejected by David Moyes and Manchester United for the 27-year-old. Rooney has wanted out of Old Trafford since last May and all summer this one has dragged out. Chelsea are the only club willing to bid for Rooney and Mourinho has already stated that the Blues will table another bid following their clash with United at Old Trafford on Monday.

Will the Red Devils buckle and offload their prized possession that wants to leave after a decade of service?

Karim Benzema

source: Getty ImagesThe Real Madrid striker may seem his playing time reduce significantly this season with the impending arrival of Gareth Bale. The 26-year-old French international striker is clinical, strong and can lead the line on his own superbly.

One problem throughout his Real career has been getting a decent run in the team. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain have often been the preferred options up top but with Higuain signing for Napoli should Benzema stay at the Bernabeu?

One club have been chasing the bustling striker harder than anybody else: Arsenal. The Gunners need reinforcements up top with Olivier Giroud their only real central striking option. If there’s any chance of grabbing Benzema, Wenger should beak the bank to get him. The former Lyon forward is just entering his prime, has vast international and Champions League experience and can score goals of any kind. A true poacher who can also lead the line, the Gunners should snap Benzema up before next Monday.

If they don’t another top European side will, but that’s only if he leaves Madrid.

Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines

source:  Well, I couldn’t narrow it down to five without including these guys, so let’s make it six.

Manchester United have made two double bids for the Everton duo, both have been described as “derisory” by the Toffees and unless the Red Devils dramatically up their bids then Baines and Fellaini won’t be following their former manager David Moyes to United.

A recent $45 million bid was put in and laughed away, after Moyes had already tried to bring in the duo earlier this summer. But do United really need both of these players? They certainly need Fellaini, but missed the boat earlier this summer as the midfielder has a minimum release clause of $37.5 million in his contract that is no longer available. United have lacked creative midfielders who can score goals and genuinely make a difference in the opposition box in the past few seasons. Fellaini can keep things ticking over but also find pockets of space in the box and use his aerial prowess to score goals. As for Baines, United still have Patrice Evra putting in some terrific displays from left back and Baines is now 27.

If they fail in a double bid once more, United should go back and try grabbing Fellaini on his own.

WATCH: NBC to stream USWNT, every CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying game

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The CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championships kick off on Wednesday and NBC Sports will be streaming all 15 games of the tournament over the next 11 days.

Every single game will be streamed live online or on the app via NBC Sports Live Extra, in addition to up to four matches airing on NBCSN.

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The eight-team tournament takes place from Feb. 10-21 in Houston and Frisco, Texas, with the top two teams advancing to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Below is a full schedule of the games.

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico                                   5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Costa Rica                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN

Sunderland’s Adam Johnson admits child sex charge

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10:  Adam Johnson arrives with girlfriend Stacey Flounders at the Crown Court on February 10, 2016 in Bradford, England. The Sunderland FC midfielder, aged 28 and from Castle Eden, County Durham, is on trial having previously denied three counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of grooming. He has one daughter.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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Premier League winger Adam Johnson has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child, but the Sunderland player has denied two other charges.

Johnson, 28, appeared at Bradford Crown Court in Yorkshire, England on Wednesday and admitted the sex count and another count of grooming.

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The former Middlesbrough and Manchester City winger is an England international but has denied two other charges of having sex with a girl under the age of 16.

Up until Wednesday Johnson had pleaded not guilty but following legal talks he agreed to admit to two of the charges.

[ MORE: Reports claim Mourinho to United is “done deal” ]

The trial over the charges Johnson has denied will be held this Friday and a jury has been sworn in. The initial trial date of Aug. 3, 2015 was adjourned.

Johnson was originally arrested in March 2015 over allegations he had sex with a 15-year-old girl.

He played eight times in the final months of last season after the allegations became public, plus he has made 20 appearances in all competitions for Sunderland this season.

Report: Mourinho tells friends he will be new Man United manager

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Numerous reports from the British tabloids claim former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has told close friends he will take charge of Manchester United this summer.

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s best XI? ]

Both the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror have plastered headlines such as “Mourinho: Takes it as red” and “United job is mine” across their backpages on Wednesday morning, while the Daily Mail say Mourinho believes it’s a “done deal” for him to take over at Old Trafford.

Mourinho, 53, was fired by Chelsea in December just seven months after leading the Blues to the Premier League title.

The Portuguese coach has won three PL trophies in five full seasons in England but Chelsea’s dramatic collapse this season saw them floundering towards the relegation zone rather than fighting to defend their crown.

[ MORE: Arsenal, Spurs to contend for PL title? ]

With Louis Van Gaal‘s long-time future at United in question — the veteran Dutch coach, 64, has a deal through the end of the 2016-17 season — and the Red Devils six points off the top four in the PL despite sepnding over $375 million on new players in the past 18 months, it is believed that United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is under pressure to appoint a manager capable of returning United back to title contenders and perennial challengers in Europe.

On Tuesday it was reported that United had reached out to reps of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, and it certainly seems like they’re assessing their options before giving LVG even more money to spend this summer, if he’s still around.

If United decide to make a change, Mourinho fits the bill.

At least in terms of winning trophies and attracting the best players on the planet which will be increasingly necessary for United to stay in touch with crosstown rivals Manchester City who will be managed by one of Mourinho’s great managerial foes, Pep Guardiola, from next season. After winning the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto and Inter Milan, the eccentric yet brilliant coach has also won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. Following the debacles on and off the pitch this season at Chelsea, Mourinho needs a chance to prove himself and be in charge of a rebuilding project. He wants to stay in England and after being fired by Chelsea twice in his career, you get the sense that United is the only other club befitting of his reputation that can offer him a job he deems up to his standards.

After Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, it is believed the United’s hierarchy turned down the chance to appoint Mourinho as they didn’t want the media circus and the antics which come from hiring Mourinho. Now, though, it’s all about winning and Mourinho will be United’s best chance of transitioning from the disappointing David Moyes era and the so far underwhelming spell since Van Gaal’s been in charge.

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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