Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Are Diego Costa and Juan Mata set for swap?

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini claims his side isn’t in the market for a new player but is apparently keen on shipping Joleon Lescott out with Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham all interested. The 31-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at City and is convinced a loan or permanent move is all he needs to catch the eye of England boss Roy Hodgson.

Despite Pellegrini’s assertions to the contrary, reports rage on regarding his interest in Basel center-half Fabian Schar. The 22-year-old is in high demand since rallying his side to a Champions League victory over Chelsea last month. In fact, the Blues, Liverpool, Arsenal Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Barcelona and PSG are all reportedly interested in giving the Swiss center-back a new home.

Staying at City, Stevan Jovetic has made just six appearances since signing in the summer due to a mixture of injury and illness. It’s form that the City fans have begun to pan with the song: “Jov the builder, can he fix it? Jov the builder – no, he’s ill!” Rumors had the 24-year-old returning to former club Fiorentina on a loan spell but the Italian side squashed the deal after Jovetic’s €5 million salary proved too much for Vincenzo Montella’s side to afford.

At cross-town rival United, David Moyes has been boosted by a transfer kitty that, depending who you believe, is between £100-£200M. His targets? A left-back, two center-mids and a striker. Topping his list are La Liga stars, Andre Herrera and Diego Costa but he’s also keeping tabs on Dortmund’s Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan, Southampton’s Luke Shaw and Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala. In other words, anyone and everyone who could end his misery.

Costa, however, could be headed to Chelsea if Jose Mourinho decides he wants a new striker this January. His bait? Playmaker Juan Mata, who has (inexplicably) fallen out of favor with the Portuguese gaffer. A Costa-Mata swap would be a sensational deal and one that could see Chelsea striker Demba Ba pushed out. The Senegalese hit-man has featured only eight times in the league this season with Newcastle, Crystal Palace and West Ham all inquiring about a loan deal for Mourinho’s surplus goods.

Newcastle’s interest in a striker comes amidst the eagerness of Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp to sell Loic Remy on a permanent deal to the Magpies. Redknapp has the Frenchman clocked in at £16 million and is confused as to why the Magpies have yet to pull the trigger. Of course that could have something to do with the fact that QPR’s asking price is nearly double with the R’s paid Marseille for Remy last year.

When Tottenham purchased Argentinian winger Erik Lamela from Roma last season, Spurs fans thought they had the next Gareth Bale. And in a way, they did. Unfortunately it was the Bale who began his Tottenham career with a winless streak of 25 matches, not the one who sniped 21 league goals in 2012-13. Lamela’s slow start reportedly has the North London side considering a loan deal with Lazio and Inter battling to take him on board.

One Manchester United player everyone seems to covet (except David Moyes) is Wilfried Zaha. A number of sides are interested in taking the athletic winger on loan with Crystal Palace pushing the hardest. Word has it manager Tony Pulis has made a bid for Zaha only for Moyes to deny it. Despite playing the 21-year-old appearing in only two league matches, Moyes reportedly wants to keep Zaha in the mix due to Nani’s hamstring injury.

Finally, at Villa Park, Paul Lambert wants his side to buy a proven #10. So naturally he’s lining up a bid for a former player of his at Norwich City, Wes Hoolahan. If the Villa manager can’t capture the Irish Messi, he’s expected to make moves for another diminutive playmaker, Porto’s Steven Defour.

U-17 World Cup wrap: Ghana tops Niger, Brazil roasts Honduras

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The quarterfinals are set in the U-17 World Cup.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s Champions League wrap ]

With just two games left to decide, Wednesday proved quite decisive. In the early game, Ghana topped Niger 2-0 to advance into the quarterfinals where they will match up against another African nation in Mali, while Brazil had no trouble with Honduras in a comprehensive 3-0 win.


Ghana 2-0 Niger

Ghana struck twice, both in stoppage time of either half, and they move on to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over fellow African nation Niger. The Group A champions were always going to be favored, as they had topped the strong group to pick up a matchup with a third-placed team.

Eric Ayiah bagged a simple penalty in first-half stoppage time to put Ghana 1-0 up. The decision came after Ayiah was fouled by Farouk Idrissa in the area. Idrissa conceded a second penalty with four minutes to go in the match, but Ayiah’s effort for a brace was saved.

Ghana dominated the match, with 63% possession and 23 shots, including five on target, while holding Niger to zero shots on target. The favorites grabbed a deserved second goal in second-half stoppage time as Richard Danso struck an absolutely fabulous effort from outside the top of the box that crashed its way into the top-right corner.

Brazil 3-0 Honduras

Sao Paulo forward Brenner scored a brace, while young midfielder Marcos Antonio hit a third as Brazil breezed by Honduras. The Brazilians were clinical in front of net, bagging a 50% score rate with three goals on six shots on target. Honduras, meanwhile, managed just one shot on target in 10 attempts.

The pair of goals for Brenner gives him three, drawing him level with Lincoln for the most in the tournament for the Brazilians, and two off the tournament lead paced by Malian striker Lassana Ndiaye and France’s Amine Gouiri. Brazil will take on Germany in the quarterfinals, a heavyweight matchup for so early in the knockout round.

Follow Live: Chelsea, Manchester United in Champions League action

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Two more Premier League teams, both with high aspirations, steam towards the halfway point of group stage action in the 2017/18 Champions League.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Manchester United hits the road to Portugal to take on Benfica. The Red Devils with a win would move to a perfect nine points out of nine through the midway point of group stage play, almost assuring themselves of a place in the knockout round.

Chelsea could do the same, although their predicament looks slightly more bleak as injuries have ravaged the squad and given Antonio Conte pause as to how he will proceed. The Blues are in poor form after losing the last-placed Crystal Palace in league play over the weekend, and as they host Roma at Stanford Bridge, questions remain as to how Conte can replace the injured N'Golo Kante and Victor Moses.

[ MORE: How will Chelsea lineup after injuries? ]

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain heads to Belgium to take on Anderlecht, while Bayern Munich hosts Brendan Rodgers and Celtic. Atletico Madrid has an early kick on the road at Azerbaijan giants Qarabag.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ] 

All games kick at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted.


Wednesday’s UCL games

Group A
Benfica vs. Manchester United
CSKA Moscow vs. FC Basel

Group B
Anderlecht vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich vs. Celtic

Group C
Qarabag vs. Atletico Madrid (12:00 p.m. ET)
Chelsea vs. AS Roma

Claudio Reyna eviscerates US Soccer as “arrogant” and “obnoxious”

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Former USMNT captain Claudio Reyna has come out guns blazing after the Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, repeatedly condemning the mentality of the coaches and players in the wake of the debacle.

Speaking to Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep, the usually hushed NYCFC Sporting Director put the USMNT on blast during his lengthy chat. “You travel to Spain, Argentina, Germany,” Reyna said, “and you run into coaches and sporting directors and there’s a humility about their work that doesn’t exist here, and that’s, for me, seeing it, is to me a big concern.”

“When you have a disappointment like last week, and we’ve had past disappointments as well, and we’ll have disappointments in the future, but what we need to understand that it’s for me behavioral.”

Reyna, who garnered 112 caps during his time with the US National Team as a midfielder, questioned the advancement of the game in the United States, looking to differentiate an increase in popularity from headway on the field. “What I think has happened in the past 10 years is we’re confusing investment, expansion, growth, and all these other things with progress,” Reyna said. “All these things have sort of created a feeling that we’re progressing, but I call it expanding, growth and more fans. From the general growth side it’s happening, but are we really progressing? When I look around at certain levels I don’t see progress happening.”

The 44-year-old eventually let the heads of the federation have it, saying nothing will improve no matter who is in charge unless the mentality of those at the helm changes. “People are sitting together and thinking about strategies and how we’re going to get better,” Reyna said. “We need a little humility and modesty at the table. Unfortunately we have a little too much ‘Mr. I Know Everything’, ‘Mr. Arrogance’, ‘Mr. Obnoxious’, ‘Mr. Loud’, and when those get together nothing happens.”

Before finishing out his chat with Goal, Reyna made sure to point out that the country has quality players at its disposal, and that it’s on the federation to develop them and pull the best out of them, or else the disappointments will continue.

“There’s a lot of positives despite the disappointing result that we had last week,” Reyna said. “I think we’re all embarrassed. I’m embarrassed as a former player that I have to go around and have people make fun of us, and get texts from my friends in Europe who remind me we’ll be on [vacation] next summer. I can laugh, but it hurts. It definitely hurts.”

De Bruyne on Silva spat: “I also get into some arguments with my wife”

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With Manchester City in total control of their Champions League match against Napoli at halftime, leading 2-0 and outshooting the visitors 11-4, it seemed all was right at the Etihad.

But then, as the players went down the tunnel for the break, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were arguing, with the Belgian furious for some undisclosed reason. A closer inspection shows that de Bruyne actually had gone after the fourth official first, and instead, the captain Silva had stepped in, which angered de Bruyne further. Eventually, the players headed down the tunnel, and City would end up edging out a 2-1 victory.

But what happened at halftime? Is there discontent in the Manchester City locker room?

Afraid not. “I think we had a little discussion,” de Bruyne told reporters in street clothes after the match. “There’s nothing wrong, after one minute that is over. At home I also get into some arguments with my wife, I think it’s normal. I think this is necessary. But now everything is ok, it’s just what happens sometimes.”

It’s most likely that de Bruyne was angry about the penalty called in the 38th minute which Dries Mertens saw saved. The foul was given on Kyle Walker for pulling down Raul Albiol down from behind. With de Bruyne incensed, it was on Silva to keep his stellar attacking midfielder from finding himself in hot water.