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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Balde Diao to Chelsea, Mahrez to stay

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With Romelu Lukaku almost certainly headed to Manchester United, the transfer slate on Saturday is somewhat light. Teams are reacting to the big news of the morning and planning accordingly, with many Premier League clubs now looking to reevaluate the striker market after a big domino falls.

The biggest rumors on Saturday seem to be who won’t be moving instead of who will.

According to The Independent, Tottenham will not even consider offers for midfielder Eric Dier, who has been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid in the past.

Jose Mourinho is looking for a defensive midfielder, and rumors seem to be pointing him in the direction of Nemanja Matic, but Dier’s name has come up. The report states Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is not willing to listen to offers for the 23-year-old. Levy has been successful in taking a hard-line stance in the past, both in his valuation of players such as Gareth Bale, or in his decision not to sell at any price such as Harry Kane or Moussa Dembele.

Another player who may not be moving is Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. According to multiple reports, with The Mirror first on the story, Arsenal has decided to move on from its interest in Mahrez.

The Gunners have long been linked with the Algerian ever since he won PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s title run. Now, however, with their sights reportedly set on Monaco’s young winger Thomas Lemar, they have apparently put Mahrez on the back burner.

Reportedly, the reason for their lessening of interest is Leicester’s hard-line stance on their valuation of Mahrez, which is apparently above $64 million. This, coupled with the regression Mahrez saw last season has seen Arsenal decide against pursuing a move.

Mahrez told reporters in May that he wishes to leave the Foxes, and that has caused clubs to come calling, but also served to dampen his value on the transfer market with teams knowing Leicester is looking to sell. Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare told Sky Sports today that no bids have been submitted just yet for the 26-year-old.

With Romelu Lukaku slipping from Chelsea’s grasp, there will be plenty of rumors on who the Blues will chase now for their next striker. It’s still possible that Diego Costa could stay and man the front line, but with Antonio Conte apparently preferring other options, expect to see plenty of names crop up over the next month.

Many popular choices include Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti, but both players will cost a hefty sum, and the Blues are likely to see that as a last resort. Instead, they could look to cheaper options, with Lazio’s Keita Balde Diao reportedly on the list.

According to Italian TV station Mediaset Premium, Diao is a possibility for the Blues with other clubs in Italy not so keen. AC Milan had a $23 million bid accepted back in early June according to Diao’s agent, but the player turned it down hoping for a move to Juventus. When that didn’t materialize, his situation was back to the drawing board.

Diao’s contract expires next summer, and he does not look likely to sign a new deal at Lazio.

One player who will be tough to keep in one place is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The Reds lightning rod is a stellar player, and is a popular transfer rumor subject every summer for that reason.

According to French paper L’Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain is hoping to bring in Coutinho should they fail to pry Kylian Mbappe free of Monaco. PSG has been heavily linked with Mbappe, with the financial means to make it happen, but they may have to pay a premium to convince Monaco to sell its best player to a direct league rival.

Thus, should the Mbappe project fail, Coutinho is reportedly an option. Liverpool reportedly isn’t opposed to a sale, but it would cost PSG around $98 million, according to the report. The Reds also need to have a replacement lined up, and replacing the Brazilian playmaker is no easy task.

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage:

Casemiro: Neymar “would get along very well with Cristiano” at Real

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The speculation (transfer) train keeps chugging along as domestic seasons near their conclusion, and one rumor continues to be fueled linking one of the world’s top players to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview ]

Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has been short, less than a season to be precise, but the Brazil international could be moving on from the Parc des Princes sooner rather than later after his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League recently against Real.

Nothing concrete has been determined about Neymar’s future, but Real Madrid continues to be linked with the South American star, and one current Real player feels Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo would get along “very well.”

“[Neymar] has always been spectacular, since he was 11 years old. He does crazy things,” Real midfielder Casemiro told El Partidazo .l”I don’t think there is any chance that he will come to Real, but you have to ask [Madrid president] Florentino Perez.

“He knows that the door is always open for him in Madrid, but he is happy in Paris. He always says that he is happy there, that he is comfortable in Paris. There are many Brazilians there too, it is very quiet there, but whether it’s possible you have to ask Florentino.

“With the quality that he has, I would sign him for sure. I hope he comes this season.

“He is a great player, one of the top three in the world. He can do whatever he wants off the pitch if he continues to do what he does on it.

“He would get along very well with Cristiano, very well.”

Real is currently in the midst of a historic run in the Champions League, having won the competition three times in the last four seasons.

Casemiro isn’t the only Real player eager to bring in a talent such as Neymar though.

Defender Dani Carvajal also recently told the media that he would be ecstatic to have a teammate like the Brazilian come into the fold at the Santiago Bernabeu.