Arsenal may not want Cesc Fábregas, but he’d fit nicely with Chelsea

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On the same day Frank Lampard confirmed his days at Stamford Bridge are done comes a rumor that links Chelsea to a player who could possibly replicate the midfielder’s famous production. With Arsenal reportedly declining the opportunity to bring back one of its own, Barcelona’s Cesc Fábregas, the Blues could be the beneficiary of the Spanish international’s next move.

That’s assuming the move happens, though according to The Guardian, new manager Luis Enrique is intent on adding Koke from Atlético Madrid, a move that would make Fábregas expendable. Told he can leave the club after three years in the Catalan capital, the 27-year-old’s departure could see him go from Xavi Hernández’s heir apparent to a victim of what’s become an uncertain time at the club.

From The Guardian:

Fábregas has been informed he can leave the Camp Nou this summer after three seasons back at the Catalan club …The Spain international is disappointed Arsenal have opted against trying to bring him back but he is willing to consider other options in England.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have all considered moves for the midfielder in the past but it is understood their respective priorities lie elsewhere in the market this summer. Chelsea had hoped to secure Koke themselves as they seek to replace Lampard, who will make a decision on his future after the World Cup.

In this three seasons since rejoining Barcelona, the La Masia-trained midfielder tallied 42 goals and 48 assists in 151 all-competition appearances. With league, cup, and Club World Cup honors on his résumé, Fábregas saw relative success on the team level, but the former Arsenal star never completely held down a spot in the starting XI. He also missed out on a Champions League title.

Before returning to Spain, Fábregas spent parts of eight seasons at Arsenal, where has was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2007-08 and made the organization’s team of the year in 2007-08 and 2009-10. In 303 appearances with Arsenal, Fábregas scored 57 goals and collected 98 assists.

If Fábregas can replicate that production at Chelsea — particularly the 15-goal, 13-assist league campaign he produced in 2008-09 — he could have a Lampard-esque presence in the middle, albeit with a completely different style. Able to play as a central midfielder, a No. 10, or as a false nine, Fábregas should give manager José Mourinho the option of playing more 4-3-3 next season, should he choose to revert to one of his favored approaches. Next to an industrious Ramires and in front of the towering Nemanja Matic, the former Gunner would create an enviable balance in a three-man middle.

That’s assuming the move happens, of course. At this point, it appears far from done, particularly since Manchester United, a contender for Fábregas’s signature last year, may not be so willing to bow out of this year’s sweepstakes.

Regardless, if Fábregas is intent on moving back to England, his arrival will be a boon to one of the Premier League’s title contenders. Right now, Chelsea may be leading the charge.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.