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Report: Real Madrid to target four Chelsea stars

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A report from Spanish outlet Don Balon claims Real Madrid are keeping a close eye on four Chelsea stars ahead of the summer transfer window.

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The players who are said to be interesting the reigning European champs are Eden Hazard (Real are long-time admirers of his), plus N'Golo Kante, Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso.

Rumors of Hazard and Courtois swapping Stamford Bridge for the Santiago Bernabeu have been circulating for the past few months, while the report about Zinedine Zidane wanting to sign Kante last summer but being shut down by Real’s president Florentino Perez suggests they may go back in for the France superstar after his stunning debut season for Chelsea.

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Kante joined Chelsea from Leicester for $35 million last summer and you have to think he is now worth over $60 million following his stunning displays which suggest he will be named the PFA Player of the Year while also winning his second PL title in a row after clinching the crown with Leicester City last season. Kante and Casemiro would provide some serious steel to Real’s midfield but is there room for both of them with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos around too?

It’s always a fine balancing act for Zidane and also the definition of “champagne problems” when you consider he also has central players Kovacic, Isco and Marco Llorente around too.

As for Alonso, the former Real Madrid academy product has had a fairly nomadic career for a player of his age, spending time with three different clubs in England (Bolton, Sunderland, Chelsea) and then in Italy with Fiorentina. With Real currently having Marcelo at left back bringing in Alonso, who is entering his prime at 26, doesn’t seem like a sensible move for the player or the club.

He would be a good long-term option at left back and has shown his undoubted attacking ability to slot in to Real’s team perfectly, but given the fact he’s a regular for Chelsea at left-wing back it would seem slightly far-fetched to see him leave the Blues. That said, Chelsea have been linked with a move for former Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand, so maybe Alonso moving back to his boyhood club to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather makes sense.

The likelihood of one of these deals, let alone four, getting done seems remote considering all four players are key cogs in Antonio Conte‘s machine at Chelsea.

Hazard remains the jewel in Chelsea’s crown and if Real come in with a world-record bid for the Belgian attacker this summer it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

It’s not like Chelsea need the money but with Conte’s philosophy clear and everyone on board as they lead the Premier League by seven points, if heads are turned this summer he will soon realize.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

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The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

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“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

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And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”