Britain Soccer Premier League

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.

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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