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Report: Morata, Belotti to Chelsea after Lukaku deal breaks down

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Chelsea have some serious wheeling and dealing to do with just over five weeks until the opening day of the Premier League season.

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The reigning PL champs seem to have lost out on signing Romelu Lukaku from Everton, while Diego Costa’s departure to Atletico Madrid seems to be edging closer.

That would leave Antonio Conte with just Loic Remy and Michy Batshuayi as a his forward options for next season, but multiple reports claim the Blues will now make a big move for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morate and Torino’s Andrea Belotti.

Morata, 24, has long been admired by Conte and the Spanish international was said to be close to joining Chelsea last summer with Costa’s future uncertain back then. With Manchester United going all-in on Lukaku both Morata and Belotti are now available after both were heavily linked with a move to United so far this summer.

Now Belotti and/or Morata appear more likely to head to Chelsea.

Torino is said to want the full release clause in Belotti’s contract, which is $113 million, and their president is adamant the 23-year-old will not leave for less than that.

Both players would slot perfectly into Chelsea’s system, with a lone central striker supported by Eden Hazard and either Pedro or Willian out wide.

Morata seems ready to end his time at Real Madrid after being a bit-part player for Zinedine Zidane’s reigning European champs last season, and he may well be the cheaper of the two strikers with a fee of $96.7 million discussed. That said, it seems tough to believe Belotti will not be allowed to leave Torino if Chelsea offer a fee just below $100 million.

With Lukaku said to still want a return to Chelsea, the Blues may not be giving up on the big Belgian forward just yet. However, they appear to have plenty of other options lined up and the west London club must act fast to offload Costa and then bring in a true replacement who can guarantee 20-plus goals a season.

That’s the hard part.

Belotti is more powerful, Morata more technical, but both can finish with Belotti scoring 40 times in 74 games over the past two seasons at Torino. Morata managed 20 in 43 outings for Real last season, and during a two-year stint at Juventus he scored 27 goals in 93 games in all competitions. His hold-up play may well be better, but is Morata really the clinical finisher Chelsea need?

Anybody who questions the huge transfer fee of close to $100 million for Lukaku should understand just what guaranteeing 20-plus goals a season means to a team. That could well be the difference between finishing in fourth and winning the title.

That’s why Chelsea need this situation sorted, and fast.

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

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Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: West Ham targeting Wilshere in January transfer window ]

The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Watch Live: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs in action

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Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


Wednesday’s Premier League schedule

2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM

3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.