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Thursday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Vidal to United, Chicharito to Arsenal

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Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup is led by news of Manchester United’s interest in Arturo Vidal to help strengthen their underperforming midfield in the hope of a Top 4 finish.

The Chile international is the most recent Juventus player named to transfer speculation with Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo already being linked to United and title-chasers Arsenal.

Despite noting his happiness in Turin and pledging his future to the Italian champions by signing a new contract through 2017, Vidal’s allegiance could be swayed if United are to break the bank and offer him a handsome contract.

Sticking with David Moyes’ side new rumors have emerged that the champions are ready to sell Javier Hernandez to Arsenal, who are in desperate need of strikers following Nicholas Bendtner’s new injury and Olivier Giroud’s overuse in the first half of the season. Whether United would actually sell Hernandez to a Premier League contender is a huge question and if it doesn’t transpire, the North London club could turn elsewhere.

One place would be Fulham, where wantaway striker Dimitar Berbatov could be available for as little as £2 million, right within Wenger’s financial wheelhouse. With relegation looming, the Cottagers won’t be excited at losing their best striker but with his contract set to expire in the summer this could be the only opportunity for them to be financially compensated for the Bulgarian’s services.

If Berbatov doesn’t pan out, Arsenal could turn to Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy in the summer. The Newcastle loanee is the jewel of the R’s stockpile but if the West London club fails to earn promotion to the Premier League this May, Remy will undoubtedly be sold off.

Speaking of the Magpies, Johnny Heitinga’s diss of West Ham United – who had a deal in place with Everton to bring in the center-back – opens up the door for Newcastle to bid on the Dutchman. Alan Pardew’s side has enjoyed defensive success this season with a two-man rotation of Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa but with Coloccini’s recent knee injury, additional depth is needed at St. James’ Park.

Two Premier League studs could be headed out of England are Yohan Cabaye and Juan Mata, both of whom are reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain. The Ligue 1 outfit face light competition from United and Arsenal for Cabaye while Mata could be the subject of a massive £30 million bid by the Parisien giants. If they do exploit the English market, look for PSG to sell off Javier Pastore, Jérémy Ménez or Lucas Moura to balance the books.

In other Chelsea news, David Luiz could be the subject of a big money bid by Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola has been scouting Luiz since his time as boss at Barcelona and reportedly has convinced the higher-ups at Bayern to splash the cash for the Brazilian dynamo. Luiz has enjoyed moderate success at Chelsea this season with form and injury issues relegating him to a third choice center-back behind John Terry and Gary Cahill.

 

City Council approves plans for new Los Angeles soccer venue

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The City Council has approved plans to build a $250 million stadium for Major League Soccer’s expansion Los Angeles Football Club.

[ MORE: Can MLS teams begin to create separation in Week 10? ]

The council voted 12-0 Friday to move forward with a 22,000-seat stadium on the site of the old Sports Arena next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and USC.

The 15-acre complex is also slated to include a conference center, restaurants, 140,000 square feet of plazas and streetscapes, and a soccer museum.

At its center would be the home to the new MLS team when it makes its debut in 2018.

LAFC is owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen and a celebrity-studded list of investors including Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra.

Barcelona reportedly seeking out Nice winger Hatem Ben Afra

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Lost in the 2015-16 campaign has been Nice attacker Hatem Ben Afra.

[ MORE: Leicester can provide more magic at home vs. Everton ]

While Paris Saint-Germain has stolen the spotlight in France for much of this season, the former Newcastle midfielder has been nothing short of special for Les Aiglons.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s PL picks are in for Week 37 ]

That has left La Liga giant Barcelona contacting the 29-year old Frenchman over his services, according to Nice president Jean Pierre Rivere.

Rivere told France 3 he wouldn’t mind Ben Afra exiting the club:

“I would be very happy for him and for Nice if this move comes off,” Rivère said. “You do not reject Barcelona, but it is up to him to decide. If I was a player and Barcelona was offered to me I would not ask questions, I would go! But it is not yet done according to what I am told.”

In 32 appearances this season for Nice, Ben Afra has notched 17 goals and added five assists. He ranks third in goals, only behind PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon.

Barcelona could very well be the frontrunners to acquire the talented attacker, but several European sides have also expressed interest in Ben Afra. Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as AC Milan have also been named as potential suitors.

[ MORE: What do other PL teams have to say about Leicester? ]

Ben Afra’s age may be a bit of a concern for the Blaugrana though, in addition to the fact that this current season is the only time in his career that he has tallied double-digit goals. The Lyon academy product could provide solid depth to Barcelona’s attack should a deal get finalized.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Everton

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  • Leicester simply playing for home pride
  • Everton seek top-10 finish

Leicester City host Everton on Saturday from the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) in hopes of providing its fans with a season-capping victory, after winning the Premier League title on Monday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

By now everyone has seen Christian Fuchs‘ video of the Leicester players in celebration mode, but there are still two games left to play. The match against Everton may be more about pride than anything else, but it can still represent an important feat for the club and serve as a true celebration in front of their home supporters.

Jamie Vardy‘s return will provide the fans with yet another moment to applaud and you’d expect the Leicester forward to want to add to his 22 PL goals.

[ MORE: Norwich in desperate need of three points vs. Manchester United ]

The Foxes will be met by an Everton side that don’t really have anything to play for either. Toffees manager Roberto Martinez will surely be looking for a win with his job on the line, however, it’s left to be seen whether or not he can actually maintain his position. Everton has finished in the PL top 10 each of the last eight seasons, and a finish outside of that mark would be a huge setback for the club.

What they’re saying…

Ranieri on his team competing: “Inside me there are two people. One is a very aggressive, I want to win, I won the Premier League but now I want to win on Saturday.”

Martinez on Leicester not letting up: “I’m sure any sort of celebration could affect you in the long term if you had to face a difficult month. In a 90-minute game where the stadium is going to be an historic environment, I’m sure that can only be positive for the home team.”

Prediction

The title is already theirs but why wouldn’t Leicester win this match? The KP Stadium will be rocking into the night and the Foxes will come away with a convincing 3-0 win against Everton.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Norwich City vs. Manchester United

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  • Norwich sit two points out of 17th place
  • United in battle with West Ham for Europe
  • Canaries are losers of three straight

Norwich City host Manchester United from Carrow Road on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) as the Canaries seek Premier League safety with two weeks remaining.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

With their season on the line, Norwich is facing desperation as they meet Manchester United. The Canaries posted just one win in four matches in April, leaving them 19th in the PL. While neither Newcastle nor Sunderland were able to create separation between themselves and Norwich, a win against United is a necessity with three games left to play.

Goals have come at a minimum this season for the Canaries, leaving Nathan Redmond and Dieumerci Mbokani in need of a big game. Each player has notched five goals this season for the side.

[ MORE: Ranieri’s on-field changes as manager have propelled Leicester ]

Disappointment has surrounded United for much of the 2015-16 season, however, the Red Devils still have important matches to play down the stretch. That starts with Norwich. Sitting four points behind fourth place Manchester City and holding a game in hand, Louis Van Gaal‘s club can close the gap on the Citizens with a strong performance on Saturday.

What they’re saying…

Neil on match’s importance: “Everybody knows the situation, so I don’t think it is going to have massive difference in terms of how we would approach the game or they (relegation rivals) would approach the game. What it does do is apply pressure to their game, but there will be pressure on that anyway. They will recognise and we recognise that all the teams need to win games to stay in the division.”

Van Gaal on injury struggles: “I always talk about facts, not about hypothetical circumstance and activities. I can only say that in the end of November we had first position, after that we had a big decline.”

Prediction

Despite playing in front of a feisty home crowd at Carrow Road and picking up a 2-1 victory early this season against United, the Canaries chances aren’t too optimistic. Norwich hasn’t scored in three straight matches, all of which were losses. With United still playing for something I don’t expect the Red Devils to drop this match. Give United the points on the road, 3-1, leaving Norwich to rely on Aston Villa and Chelsea to pick up wins.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

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