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Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Benzema, Ozil, Di Maria to Arsenal, Fellaini to Manchester United

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Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has told Roberto Martinez that he wants to leave the Toffees, as Manchester United continue to monitor the Belgian internationals situation. Fellaini, 25, has already been the subject of two bids from David Moyes and with his latest revelations United could well come in for a third and final bid before the transfer deadline.

And another Everton player is still rumored to be heading to United, as England left back Leighton Baines could be included in a double swoop by former Everton manager Moyes. The deal for Everton’s prized assets could reach $54 million as United are expected to table to a bid today but would Baines be a regular for the Red Devils? With Patrice Evra still in fine form at the age of 32 it’s hard to see Baines coming straight into the starting lineup ahead of the French veteran.

Arsenal are still planning to strengthen their side as the transfer window comes to a close, with manager Arsene Wenger aiming to bring in three Real Madrid stars. Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil have all been targeted by the Gunners but there’s one snag: it all hinges on Madrid’s deal for Gareth Bale being done before the deadline. Spurs are dragging their heels on the Bale deal so that their North London rivals can’t plan to bring in three top internationals from Madrid. The deal to bring all three to the Emirates would cost a whopping $105 million and would silence all the doubters that Wenger has had throughout a summer of transfer struggles. Can it be done?

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Can Arsenal really seal a triple swoop for Benzema, Ozil and Di Maria?

On a smaller scale, Arsenal have also bid for St. Etienne midfielder Josuha Guilavogui after putting in an offer of $12 million. The 23-year-old is a holding midfielder, which raises a few eyebrows after Wenger only added former Arsenal stopper and fellow Frenchman Mathieu Flamini yesterday. But French international Guilavogui can also play at center-back and this move could considerably strengthen Arsenal’s options in midfield and defense.

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry could be heading to Merseyside, as Everton aim to tie up a season-long loan deal for the 32-year-old. Barry hasn’t featured for City this season and his time at the Etihad appears to be over. Roberto Martinez could see Barry as a cheap replacement if Fellaini does move to Manchester United however one stumbling block is that Barry’s wages of $180,000 per week is way out of Everton’s wage structure. A compromise must be met.

And another player Martinez is aiming to attract to Goodison Park is one of his former Wigan players, James McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland international dazzled under the Spanish coach at the DW Stadium and could be reunited with Martinez at Everton. A bid is about to be tabled and McCarthy could be another direct replacement for Fellaini. Would Everton fans be happy with that? The 22-year-old midfielder is crafty and diligent in the engine room but may struggle to replicate Fellaini’s goalscoring threat.

As for City, their need for a new central defender has become abundantly clear in recent weeks and Pellegrini has his eye on FC Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala. The 22-year-old French international has a $60 million buy-out clause in his contract and Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United have all been following his progress closely. Maybe City will spend big one more time before the window slams shut, the Citizen’s could certainly do with some defensive reinforcements.

FC Schalke are set to sign AC Milan attacker Kevin-Prince Boateng to boost their Champions League hopes this season. Boateng, 26, was born in Berlin but represents Ghana at international level and can operate across midfield and attack. The former Hertha Berlin, Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder has shone in recent seasons at the San Siro but a move back to the Bundesliga seems like a done deal. Schalke’s marquee addition could see them surprise plenty of people in the Champions League this campaign.

MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Lamela and Chiriches to Spurs, Fellaini to United

MORE: Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Mata to Spurs, Ozil to Arsenal

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

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  • United 6 points outside the top four
  • Sunderland winless in four
  • MUFC has one loss in 27 vs. SAFC (W20, D6, L1)

Manchester United’s uphill battle for a top-four finish continues on Saturday when the Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

United won this fixture in September 3-0 behind goals from Memphis, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Sunderland sit 19th on the table four points from safety as the time has come for Sam Allardyce‘s side to start getting results. Without a win in their last four matches, the Black Cats must turn things around if they want to stay up in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored last time out in a draw at Liverpool, and he’ll once again be tasked with finding the back of the net if Sunderland are to win.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League Picks for Week 26 ]

For Manchester United, the pressure is still on Louis Van Gaal as rumors and reports circle linking Jose Mourinho to the job. Fifth on the table and six points behind Manchester City, a top-four finish is slipping away from United if they don’t rattle off a few wins. A late goal at Chelsea last weekend cost the Red Devils all three points, but they’ll look at this matchup against Sunderland as a good opportunity to get a positive result.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us. But our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches. We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.”

United manager Louis van Gaal: “We had lost four matches in a row in December and you see us now. You can only say that we are mentally very strong and that we can cope with the pressure. That is not enough as we have to improve our results and consistency to win a lot of matches in a row. We have to minimize the gap to our competitors.”

Prediction

Sunderland need all the points they can get to try and stay up, but United always seem to cause the Black Cats problems. Jermain Defoe is kept off the board as Louis van Gaal takes the win. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United.

Costa breaks nose, will be fit to play for “Zorro team” vs. Newcastle

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 7, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training after a clash of heads, but should be fit to play in Saturday’s match against Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Costa has six goals in his past seven Premier League games as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines ]

Manager Guus Hiddink spoke about the injury in his press conference on Friday, saying Costa collided with an Academy player in training. Hiddink said he believes Costa will be ready to play this weekend for his “Zorro team” as Costa joins Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, and Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea players to wear a mask this season.

It was not a tough duel but he put his nose on the back of the head of one of the youngsters from the Academy that we like to participate in our training games. He was very unlucky.

They are putting a mask on Diego as well, we are the team with a lot of masks, a Zorro team, and he will come back do some light training this afternoon as he must experience how he is dealing with the form and the fitting of the mask.

Costa scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Manchester United last weekend as Chelsea continue to get results under Guus Hiddink. The Blues are up to 13th on the table, just three points outside the top half.

[ RELATED: Frank Lampard urges Chelsea to sign John Terry ]

Chelsea will look to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches on Saturday against a Newcastle side that is just one point above the drop and in need of a result.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]