Tuesday transfer rumor roundup: David Luiz linked to Barcelona, Cardiff looking at Zaha, Morrison

Leave a comment

Gossip columns spent the better part of the summer speculating which center back would wind up at Barcelona only to see Blaugrana pass on all their options. With Carles Puyol still struggling to stay health, it make sense that the old copy is being recycled, with a potential $47 million move for David Luiz gracing the pages of Real Madrid-friendly Marca. The outlet also sees Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala, Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Sociedad’s Inigo Martínez as targets.

Mangala, however, is going to be a much-soughtafter man when the Dragons decide to sell. The 22-year-old French monster (I meant that in the best way) is also being sought after by Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United, according to one report. Then again, every big club in England is after everybody, according to the U.K. outlets, right?

Meanwhile, over at AS, it’s Real Madrid that’s in the news. Fabio Coentrão, who nearly moved to Manchester United at the end of the summer window, will reportedly cost over $30 million to get out of the Bernábeu. Then again, that report is from the Daily Star, who have the lowest rumor accuracy of all England’s outlets. So let’s take the $30 million Coentrão with a grain of salt.

Over in Italy, D.C. United’s Erik Thorir, operating in his capacity as president of Inter Milan, was short on specifics when he claimed wanted to “strengthen” while admitting the club have “an excess of players for certain roles.” The Indonesian businessman also claimed Walter Mazzarri’s team was too old, claiming the ideal “average age of the team should be 26.” Sounds like a recipe for both buying and selling, making them no different from most teams in the January market.

All those rumors about Paul Pogba returning to Manchester United? Not going to happen, according to the player. Resentment about how the French international was treated by Alex Ferguson could keep the one-time Red Devil trainee from returning to Manchester. Next stop: the Santiago Bernabéu?

Back in England, if Manchester United really are looking to replace Patrice Evra, Leighton Baines is candidate number one. Given how much David Moyes like his former left back, the England international may be the entire candidate’s list, something that has Everton keen to get their star fullback inked to a new contract. Baines’ current deal runs through June 2016.

Newsflash: Cardiff City are in trouble. Subheadline: Their squad needs help, part of the reason why interest in Wilfried Zaha and Ravel Morrison makes sense. With one player currently with Manchester United, the other having moved to West Ham two years ago, both young England talents would represent upgrades to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s club. Because of an escalator clause in his contract, West Ham may be forced to sell Morrison outright, something that could lead to a reunion with his former Red Devils coach.

One player that could potentially leave England is Lewis Holtby. Without a role with Spurs under Tim Sherwood, the Tottenham midfielder could make a return to the Bundesliga. Schalke are reportedly ready to take him back.

Now for the more spurious stuff: Arsenal want to pay big for Julian Draxler (but see him as a Van Persie-type?); Sunderland are trying to land Ignacio Scocco, as if they don’t have enough stickers; Liverpool in frame for Mohamed Salah, but potentially nothing else; Arsenal is looking into bringing Sebastian Giovinco over from Juventus; and Chelsea are ready to give Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett a chance to replace Petr Cech.

Okay – I made that last one up.

Wenger: Sanchez, Giroud will both be with Arsenal next year

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger thinks Alexis Sanchez will sign a new deal at Arsenal this summer, whether the manager changes or not.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Leicester City, Wenger did not offer any clues as to his future with the club. He also said it does not hinge on how the Gunners finish the current campaign, and that he is working on transfers for the benefit of Arsenal regardless of his future.

[ MORE: Will Real open door for Barca? ]

That’s no surprise, given his reputation and fidelity to the club. What may surprise some is Wenger’s confidence that Sanchez will stay at the Emirates Stadium.

From Sky Sports:

“I personally think he will stay and sign. First of all he is happy here, his desire is to stay, that is what I deeply believe.

“I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. The question is why would you sell him to another club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.”

Wenger said both sides want to work out a deal and that the hold-up resides in agent-related matters. He also said Arsenal does not have interest in selling Olivier Giroud, who backed Wenger just over a month ago.

Title fight in Spain: Will Real slip up again?

AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
Leave a comment

Barcelona’s dramatic 3-2 win over Real Madrid has set La Liga’s title race on its ear, with both clubs level on points with 75.

Real still controls its own destiny in a bid for its first league title since 2011-12, but a single loss puts Barcelona in pole position for its fourth title in five seasons.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

The tiebreaker is head-to-head, which Lionel Messi lifted from Real with his thrilling stoppage time thriller on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

Here are the run-ins for both sides, with Real facing a more congested schedule thanks to its status as a UEFA Champions League semifinalist.

Real Madrid

Only two of Real’s remaining five La Liga matches are at home, a boon for Barcelona considering Real boasts a strong home mark. The loss to Barca was Real’s first at the Bernabeu this season, and the Merengues only drew three matches at home (Villarreal, Eibar, Atletico Madrid).

Those home matches, however, are against teams that beat Real in the sides’ other league meetings this year, Sevilla and Valencia.

Wednesday – at Deportivo de la Coruna (16th)
Saturday – vs. Valencia (12th)
May 2 – vs. Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 6 – at Granada (19th)
May 10 – at Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 14 – vs. Sevilla (4th)
May 21 – at Malaga (14th)

Barcelona

Barca is home for three of its remaining five matches. The Blaugranas drew Villarreal and blew out Osasuna and Eibar ahead of the return visits.

As for the road matches, Barca has the Derbi barceloni with Espanyol, having taken the Camp Nou meeting 4-1, as well as a trip to Las Palmas (5-0 at home).

Wednesday – vs. Osasuna (20th)
Saturday – at Espanyol (9th)
May 6 – vs. Villarreal (5th)
May 14 – at Las Palmas (13th)
May 21 – vs. Eibar (8th)
May 27 – vs. Alaves (Copa del Rey Final)

The verdict

Any whiplash Real faces from schedule congestion should be offset by Barcelona’s much tougher schedule. Real could lose again, perhaps versus Sevilla, but Barca will likely finish second thanks to dropped points against Espanyol, Eibar, or Villarreal.

Premier League Weds. preview: Desperation on display

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two London powers face a race to stay alive for their lofty season goals, while two Northeast sides see their last chances to claim hope for another year in the Premier League.

[ STREAM: All PL games here ]

That’s what’s on the docket for Wednesday’s PL matches, one day after Chelsea buried Southampton 4-2 t0 move seven points clear of Spurs in the race for the league’s 2016-17 crown.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

No team has looked better than Spurs lately, though Palace won’t be bowed by a big name or good form. Sam Allardyce‘s Eagles boast wins at Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a home defeat of Arsenal. Those have all come in 2017, as Palace has leapt to within striking distance of the top half.

Spurs need to win at Selhurst Park to keep pace with Chelsea and sit four points back of the No. 1 spot with five matches to play. Lose, concede, and feel like last April all over again. It was a year from Tuesday that Spurs coughed up a home lead to Leicester and saw any hopes of catching Leicester fade into the sunset.

Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET

This Tees-Wear Derby oozes desperation, with Sunderland knowing it needs to win its matches-in-hand on Hull City and Swansea to have any hope of staying up, and Middlesbrough nearly as desperate.

Boro’s 24 points is three more than Sunderland, who has played one less game. Hull sits 17th with 33 points while Swansea holds 31.

Middlesbrough hasn’t won in the Premier League since Dec. 17, a run of 16 matches. Their only wins of the year are over lower league opposition, a trio of victories against Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington Stanley, and Oxford United.

Sunderland has just one league win since that same date in December, and that came at Crystal Palace. The Black Cats have lost six of eight, and look destined to join Boro in the second tier as Northeast neighbors Newcastle comes up.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images )

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — 2:45 p.m. ET

Did Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester City snap Arsenal out of its funk, or was it just a matter of Alexis Sanchez’s class squeezing a bit of excellence out of the tube?

Arsene Wenger will hope for the latter, because Arsenal’s Top Four hopes hinge on winning its matches-in-hand on Liverpool and getting significant help from Man City and Manchester United. Their opposition will also be rested, having rested since bowing out of the UEFA Champions League on April 18.

Leicester’s five match winning streak, part of Craig Shakespeare’s new manager bounce, has died down a bit. The Foxes lost at Everton and drew at Palace, and get a third tricky road test in a row at the Emirates Stadium.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Leave a comment

“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”