Thursday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Tiote to Arsenal, Destro to Chelsea

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Arsenal could be in for Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote as the Ivorian hardman is looking to move away from St. James’ Park in search of European soccer. According to multiple reports, Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow are keen on Tiote but Arsene Wenger wants him at the Emirates instead. The Daily Star is reporting that the Gunners are preparing their bid to step in at the last minute and add the 28-year-old to their midfield. Arsenal are certainly lacking a destructive holding player in that position to compliment silky passers such as Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. Tiote would fit the bill, plus, who can forget his phenomenal piledriver to earn Newcastle a wonderful comeback 4-4 draw a few years back? Obviously not Arsene.

[RELATED: Fellaini, Hernandez to Spurs?]

Chelsea’s legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech could be handed an escape route out of Chelsea, and a lovely one at that. According to the Daily Mirror, French side AS Monaco are willing to sign the 32-year-old ‘keeper who has just fallen of his perch as the number one goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge for the first time in a decade. The emergence of youngster Thibaut Courtois means Cech’s days as a regular in West London could be over and as a mark of respect the club is unlikely to stand in his way if the Czech Republic international wants a move.  Monaco have offered a three-year contract but Ligue 1 rivals Paris Saint-Germain could also be in for Cech.

Hull City may dip into the Championship after losing Robert Snodgrass through injury for six months. The Scottish international dislocated his knee cap on his debut and after the Tigers sold Shane Long to Saints last week, they are looking short in attack. According to the Daily Mail, Steve Bruce is looking to bring in Blackburn Rovers forward Jordan Rhodes for $20 million. Rhodes, 24, has scored 52 goals in 90 games for Blackburn and the Scotsman is a real fox in the box. If Hull can land their man, it will ease the pressure on Bruce’s other attackers, especially with Europa League soccer at the KC Stadium.

[RELATED: Balotelli to Liverpool?]

According to reports in France, Liverpool are pursuing AS Monaco forward Radamel Falcao. The predatory forward wants out of Ligue 1 and apparently an initial $20 million loan deal is being brokered by the Reds. The report from RMC suggests that a $80 million total deal could then be signed after this season if Liverpool so choose. Falcao, 28, moved to Monaco from Atletico Madrid last summer in a $80 million deal but tore his ACL midway through his first season in the principality. With Liverpool relying heavily on Daniel Sturridge for goals this term, perhaps Falcao’s arrival will ease the burden on him? With a rumored move for Mario Balotelli in the works, perhaps the Reds will look elsewhere now.

Finally, the Times is suggesting Chelsea striker Fernando Torres could be heading to Roma on a season-long loan with Mattia Destro heading in the opposite direction. Destro, 23, scored 13 goals in 20 games for Roma last season after returning from injury. Torres’ time at Chelsea has been a troubled one and with Diego Costa arriving as the main man and Didier Drogba being preferred from the bench instead of Torres during the opening day win over Burnley, the Spaniard may aim for a fresh challenge in Serie A rather than sit on the bench all season.

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

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La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.