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Rumors swirl around Sergio Aguero amid benching at Manchester City

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Sergio Aguero was benched for the second straight game by manager Pep Guardiola in favor of the red-hot Gabriel Jesus, and even before kickoff the rumors of his exit began to materialize.

Teams linked with Aguero in the last 24 hours include Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan.

The Mirror claimed that Chelsea would look to Aguero in the event of Diego Costa‘s exit from Stamford Bridge, although that looks far less likely now that Costa posted on social media to shatter any ideas of his discontent with the Blues. Accompanied by a picture of him playing for the Blues, Costa wrote on Instagram before this weekend’s 3-1 win over Arsenal, “They talk too much s—! Come on Chelsea!”

On Friday, The Mirror had written a report that Aguero was prepared to ignore interest from Madrid and ask for a new deal at City, but with a second game on the sidelines, questions are surely growing if that would be the case.

The most intriguing report comes from The Express, who claimed Sunday morning before City’s kickoff against Swansea City at the Etihad that Inter was seriously considering a move for Aguero. With Pep apparently hoping to convince Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to make his way to the Premier League, it could force the 28-year-old Argentinian to look elsewhere. Inter last played in the Champions League in the 2011/12 season, but have been slowly building their way back up the Serie A table, currently in fourth sitting five points behind Roma in the final Champions League place. Their downswing coincided with a similar dip by rivals AC Milan, but Inter have worked their way back towards the top, while AC continues to flounder in the middle of the pack.

It’s important to note that just last week, Aguero’s agent claimed he has no desire to leave Manchester City, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2019. Still, rumors of Aguero’s exit will only grow after it took Jesus just 11 minutes to score the opening goal for Manchester City in Sunday’s game.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”

Villarreal opens probe into Semedo’s reported arrest

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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Villarreal says it is investigating the actions of defender Ruben Semedo after reports that he was arrested for a violent incident.

The club said it is “highly concerned” about the issue and “will take the appropriate disciplinary actions with utmost rigor based on the seriousness of the events.”

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

The statement was released after Spanish media reported that the Portuguese player was taken into custody early Tuesday for allegedly being involved in a hostile confrontation with another man last week.

Police did not immediately confirm Semedo’s arrest.