Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Rodrigo to Arsenal, Dante to Manchester United

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Bayern Munich defender Dante, 30, claims Manchester United are interested in signing him. The Brazilian center back is good on the ball and brings a calming influence to proceedings with his stylish range of passing. Think David Luiz, but a little less flamboyant. Apparently he would rather stay at Bayern but it seems as though David Moyes is looking to strengthen defensively as well as in midfield. Is Dante the right man to come in at United? Apparently he’s been a long-term target for the Old Trafford team and if he does arrive it could spell the end for Nemanja Vidic’s career with the Red Devils. Watch this space, and oh yeah Wayne Rooney could be on his way out of Old Trafford to join Real Madrid…. Read more on that potential blockbuster deal, here.

Liverpool are considering adding Nigel de Jong to their midfield on loan, as the 29-year-old Dutch midfielder has struggled to settle at AC Milan since switching to Italian soccer two years ago. De Jong won the Premier League title with Manchester City in the 2011-12 season and made his name as a tough-tackling midfielder for the Citizens. Liverpool need a short-term replacement as Lucas Leiva is out injured, so de Jong is seen as the ideal quick-fix for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

MORE: Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup
MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup

Arsenal is still on the lookout for a new striker, and it seem as though Benfica’s Rodrigo has jumped to the top of the list. Arsene Wenger is desperate to add reinforcements to his frontline but is only willing to spend if the players are better than what he has. Rodrigo, 22, is being chased by Zenit St. Petersburg but his move to the Russian giants has hit a snag so Arsenal may step in to tie up a deal before the window slams shut. It is thought $37 million could land him, as the Brazilian-born Spaniard prefers a move to Arsenal or Valencia over moving to Zenit. The youngster has scored seven goals in 14 games this season and previously spent a short stint on loan at Bolton as a teenager. Arsenal hope to tie up a loan deal but Benfica prefer a straight purchase.

The Gunners could also be in the hunt for a new full back, as Bacary Sagna continues to stall on a new deal at the Emirates. Sochaux full back Sebastien Corchia, 23, is under contract until 2015 but has hinted he wants to move on to  a bigger European club and French side Lille have been knocked back with an offer. With Wenger’s close connections in France, the young defender could pop up at Arsenal with a cut-price deal likely either this January or in the summer.

Finally, Sporting Lisbon and Juventus are the latest sides to be linked with a move for Manchester United’s out of favor winger Nani. The Portuguese flyer, 27, could join his old side Sporting on loan with a view to a permanent deal in the summer. Nani has seen himself fall way down the pecking order at United with the emergence of youngster Adnan Januzaj. A quick deal could be done to free up some space in David  Moyes’ squad.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.