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Sunday transfer rumor roundup: Demichelis to City, Gomis to stay

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With less than 48 hours remaining in the transfer window things are getting very very edgy as teams look to make cut-rate bids, fill last-minute holes, and do their best to throw off the opposition.

It appears that Manchester City have all but completed a move for Atletico Madrid defender Martin Demichelis who Sky Sports is reporting will have a medical today to complete the move.  The Argentinian international is mostly a stop-gap purchase, with Vincent Kompany out for a number of weeks and young central defender Majita Nastasic only just having returned from a hamstring injury. Even without the injuries, the 32-year-old also provides a veteran replacement for Kolo Toure who left for Liverpool this window. The transfer is a bit of an unusual one, with the former Bayern Munich man having just signed on a free transfer from Malaga to Atletico earlier in July.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has shot down rumors that many teams – most notably Newcastle – were heavily interested in his striker Bafetembi Gomis.  On Twitter last night he proclaimed, “We have to face facts, there isn’t an offer that Bafe has accepted despite (interest from) the ‘English’ and the ‘Turks’ and Lyon need a player like him.”

Gomis is on the last year of his contract, and could still be persuaded by a last-minute bid, but the fact no one has made a definitive move yet means there is very little time to complete any desired switch.

Schalke attacker Julian Draxler has made some surprising comments regarding speculation that he could be the target of a last-ditch Arsenal move, refusing to rule out a move like he has all summer.  The 19-year-old wonderkid has oftem been the target of rumors, but after signing a contract extension in May, he’s maintained his loyalty to his boyhood club.  Now, he told the media he could very well leave.  “I don’t mind people speculating” said Draxler. “If the club wants to sell me, I will not say ‘no I want to stay here’. We will see if anything extraordinary happens on Monday.” Yes, we will Julian.

source: Getty ImagesAs the Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini rumors continue to fly about their possible exit from Goodison Park to join up with David Moyes at Manchester United, the media have switched their attention to Roberto Martinez’s efforts to replace them.  It appears they have been linked with Wigan’s James McCarthy (pictured to the left), with Martinez set to bring the midfielder back to the Premier League following relegation last season.  Wigan manager Owen Coyle did confirm Everton have made an inquiry about McCarthy, but no bids have been filed yet. “I am never evasive as you know” said Coyle.”Roberto [Martinez] spoke to the Chairman the other night. They have a fantastic relationship anyway and they probably speak every other week regarding a number of things.”

It’s not a rumor anymore, but Chelsea have confirmed the signing of 21-year-old Christian Atsu from Porto. The Ghanan international becomes yet another winger/attacker that Jose Mourinho has bagged this window, although this one looks to be probably one for the future rather than this season, as Chelsea immediately sent him on loan to Vitesse Arnham.  The youngster made his full-season debut for Porto last season after being named their youth team’s Player of the Season in the 2010/2011 year.

Reports are placing wantaway Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe at St. James Park in Newcastle after he will apparently spurn advances from West Ham.  Defoe is hoping Alan Pardew makes a move after deciding that’s where he’d like to ply his trade.  It’s likely Pardew would be interested, after the aforementioned stay planned by Bafetembi Gomis at Lyon, and given Newcastle’s desperate need for a striker.

Reports in Spain are placing Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera at Old Trafford, after local papers are claiming David Moyes is ready to meet his €30 million ($40 million) release clause.  The 24-year-old was not selected by manager Ernesto Valverde, although the boss declined reports that Herrera had refused to play.  The Spanish midfielder’s father was quoted in Spanish media outlet Mundo Depotivo as claiming his son is happy at Bilbao. “Ander is getting on very well at Athletic, very content” said Pedro Herrera. “He’s fought hard to come to this club and it’s very difficult for him to leave. I think it’s Manchester United’s decision, since they have not found a replacement for Cesc Fabregas. They’ve decided to opt for a creative player and have thought about Ander.” Replace Cesc Fabregas? Interesting comments…

Finally, Fulham have been linked with 25-year-old defender Michael Mancienne of Hamburg.  Mancienne is formerly of Chelsea for a quick cup of tea before spending a long loan spell at Wolverhampton and finally his permanent move to Germany.  With the futures of both John Arne Riise and Philippe Senderos in question, Martin Jol is keen to bring on at least one new defender to the squad.  Mancienne is mainly a central defender, but can also play on the right, which would be helpful considering the Whites have zero cover for Sascha Riether at that position.  Additionally, if Riise were to leave, it would leave the left-back position thin with just young Matthew Briggs and oft-injured Kieran Richardson to man the left flank.

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk