Liverpool kicks off three on the road with big NBCSN test at hard-to-predict Southampton

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  • Liverpool’s last win at St. Mary’s came in 2003
  • Southampton have 1W-2D in last three at home
  • Reds are unbeaten in Premier League during 2014

Liverpool’s race for the Premier League title begins a crucial three-match stretch away from Anfield when it rolls into St. Mary’s for a goal-promising bout with Southampton on Saturday. (Watch live on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET or online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Despite the Reds great mark in 2014 — their only loss was the Cup tie against Arsenal — there’s plenty of work to be done if they want to make believers out of PL viewers. Explosive on offense with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool isn’t exactly defending well. It’s been nearly a month since the Merseyside Derby, which was its last clean sheet.

Meanwhile the Saints continue to be maddening for prognosticators, evidenced by their 3-1 loss to red-hot West Ham. Southampton sits one point behind eighth-place Newcastle despite a three-match losing skid by the Magpies, and five points behind Manchester United and Everton.

There’s no shame in their inability to maintain a hot start to the season, but it’s the manner in which they’ve failed to do it. Looking at the schedule, you can easily pick out head-scratching moments like 2-2 draws against Stoke City and Sunderland. Those missed points are looming large.

Southampton’s nabbed two of three matches against Liverpool since their promotion in 2012, one of those a 3-1 win at St. Mary’s last year. Could it happen again this weekend?

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What They’re Saying

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet: “Every single individual in the squad is very important for us. We’re happy that Dan and Johnno came back into the squad at the weekend. Lucas and Mama are working really hard to get back, with the others as well. I’m sure we’ve got the squad to get through the last games of the season.”

Saints defender Dejan Lovren: “”We are really happy with where we are right now but I think we can do much better and we have a lot of games still. We want to finish in the best position that we can so I hope it will be the sixth place, for the Europa League. That would be an amazing place for us and we can achieve it. We need to win, we need to take every point, every possible point now, for the next games but I think and I believe, like the others, so we can.”

Prediction

Liverpool won’t be caught off guard at St. Mary’s, a building that hasn’t hosted a Reds win in three successive visits (They last won 1-0 in 2003 on a goal by Emile Heskey). The goals could be plentiful in this one, and perhaps the home supporters could swing a point Southampton’s way. We’ll call it Southampton 2, Liverpool 2.

Football leaks: French police raid PSG HQ, 3 players’ homes

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PARIS (AP) A French official says police investigating suspected tax fraud linked to the soccer industry have raided the headquarters of Paris Saint-Germain and the homes of three Argentine players in France.

The official said anti-corruption police units searched the homes of PSG players Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore, and that of Nantes forward Emiliano Sala on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Real Madrid signs $50m teen ]

Police also raided the head offices of PSG at Parc des Princes and other offices in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside the French capital, the official said.

The official, familiar with the case, declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

The national financial prosecutor’s office opened an investigation in December after so-called “football leaks” reports allegedly detailed tax arrangements by top players, coaches and clubs.

Real Madrid signs most expensive Brazilian since Neymar

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Real Madrid didn’t wait long after learning Vinicius Junior was healthy.

The 16-year-old Flamengo star is committed to the Bernabeu after passing a physical, and Real Madrid announced Tuesday that they’ll have their new player no later than July 2019.

The reported fee is $50 million, which would be the most money spent on a Brazilian player since Barcelona landed Neymar for about $64 million in 2013.

[ VOTE: Premier League Goal of the Season ]

The forward has made two appearances for Flamengo, and turns 17 on July 12. He has 19 goals in 22 appearances for Brazil’s U-17 side.

Here’s Real’s announcement:

Real Madrid C. F. and Clube de Regatas do Flamengo have reached an agreement regarding the transfer of the federative rights of the player Vinicius Junior from July 2018. The player will remain at his current club until July 2019, although he will be able to play for Real Madrid before then if both clubs agree to it.

VOTE: 2016-17 Premier League Goal of the Season

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Okay, so you have 1064 to choose from, so choose wisely…

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 PL season reviews

The 2016-17 Premier League season is over but you can vote for your favorite goal of the campaign up until June 1.

Simply click on the video above to watch the contenders compiled by Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, and then you can vote by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Ex-Barcelona president Rosell held in money laundering probe

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MADRID (AP) Spanish authorities say former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and his wife have been detained in a probe over his businesses in Brazil.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

The detentions early Tuesday are part of a money laundering investigation related to buying television rights for past matches of Brazil’s national team.

Three other people have been detained, but their identities were not immediately released by authorities.

Police raided offices, homes, and businesses in Barcelona and other locations in Spain as part of “Operation Rimet,” in reference to former FIFA President Jules Rimet.

Authorities said the operation used information from the FBI following the U.S. case against high-level FIFA officials in 2015.

Rosell is already standing trial for fraud and corruption charges involving the 2013 transfer of Brazilian striker Neymar.