Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney both out for Manchester United against Chelsea

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After sending star striker Wayne Rooney away on a ‘hot-weather break’ to help with his recuperation from a groin injury, Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed that both Rooney and Robin van Persie will miss United’s clash with Chelsea on Sunday.

During the Red Devils’ struggles this season, Rooney and RVP have often been out injured at separate times and haven’t been able to use their potent partnership to terrorize opposition defenses. Over the last two season the duo have been pivotal for Man United, with the club boasting a 78 percent win rate in the 32 games they’ve played together, while United have won just 55 percent of the 55 games where Rooney and RVP have not been partner up front.

Now they’re both out for the crunch game at Chelsea, but Moyes revealed Rooney is making good progress.

“Well he has come back fresh, but not ready for Chelsea,” Moyes told reporters on Friday. “He is training and out on the grass doing some running. He’s looking quite good, he’s had a break and done a lot of strengthening work around his groin, hopefully enjoyed a few days in the sunshine and hopefully he will benefit on it. But not for this game.”

Could Rooney return next week for United’s League Cup semifinal second leg vs. Sunderland?

“Possibly. I don’t want to be a date on it just now, because I don’t want to say he will be fit for whatever game, and then he isn’t,” Moyes said. “We’ve just got to take it bit by bit. But I’ve watched him running today and he looks well, he is in really good condition and has kept himself right. Overall we are pleased, we just hope we can get him back as quickly as we can because he’s an important player.”

Moyes also confirmed that Robin van Persie is still on the sidelines, but could return to training next weekend as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

“I’m hoping Robin will be able to come back out training at the start of next week,” Moyes said. “If I could get Robin back training with us, it would be a great boost for us all. He is a really important player and a player we’ve missed But he’s getting closer now and most of them are getting closer to fitness, so let’s hope it’s not too long until we get them back.”

This season Van Persie has only played in 11 of United’s 21 Premier League matches, scoring seven times, while Rooney has scored nine times in 17 PL games. Needless to say, a United side without RVP and Rooney leading the line is one that doesn’t frighten many opponents.

The sooner Moyes’ two superstar strikers return, the better.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.