Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Balotelli to Arsenal, Morrison to United

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Seeing how Ravel Morrison is all grown up and mature at West Ham United, the midfielder’s previous club, Manchester United, are having serious misgivings.

West Ham bought Morrison from United for £650K and agreed to pay a further £250K with every appearance he makes for the Hammers.

A clause in his convoluted contract, however, allows Morrison to be sold if an offer of £18M is made or if they receive a one-off payment of £10M. United are tempted and apparently, so is Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen.

West Ham won’t be excited by the prospect of losing Morrison but that extra dough could come in handy to mitigate the losses from shelling out £15.5M on Andy Carroll last summer. The Hammers will then turn their interest to shoring up a defense that is in desperate need of a center-back. Everton’s Jonny Heitinga looks to be a good fit, with the Dutchman keen on proving why he should be in the World Cup squad. Lofty goals, Mr. Heitinga.

It wouldn’t be a transfer roundup column without mentioning a target of Manchester City, who are desparate to secure a fifth center-back just in case Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis don’t pan out. The object of their desire is 23-year-old Villarreal center-back Mateo Musacchio, who the Yellow Submarine claim is only available for £45M. It’s a lofty goal for the Spanish side as most value the young Argentine in the range of £8M.

Over at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers has his eye on a few players including Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian international is valued at around £10M, well within Fenway Sports Group’s wallet range, except that Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are now also linked with the center midfielder. Let the bidding war commence.

Speaking of auctions set to occur this January, expect the bidding for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa to start at £35M. And with Arsenal, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund all reportedly interested in the striker’s services, that number could easily surge up to £45M. But don’t worry Goonahs, in the event that Arsenal becomes gun shy Arsene Wenger has a backup plan: 20-year-old Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata.

Finally, we stick with Arsenal for this last one because it’s simply too juicy not to mention. It’s possible that the stars are aligning to pave Mario Balotelli‘s way to the Emirates. It’s a move that makes sense when considering the precarious situation at AC Milan and Arsenal’s need for a striker to spell Olivier Giroud in the second half of the season. Granted, he’s a handful. But he’s also a world-class striker and if Arsene Wenger were willing to try and tame Luis Suarez, who’s to say he wouldn’t be open to doing the same with Balotelli?

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”