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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Drinkwater to Chelsea; Mane to Inter

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So what are Chelsea going to do with that $52.3 million for Nemanja Matic? Spend it on Danny Drinkwater, apparently.

[ MORE: How much has each PL club spent?

According to the Daily Mail, Drinkwater, 27, is high on Antonio Conte‘s wish-list and Chelsea could certainly do with another central midfielder as the report also claims Renato Sanches, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are other options.

After selling Matic to Manchester United on Monday (a somewhat bizarre move, despite the huge amount of cash) the Blues have N'Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas and new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko (he will miss the start of the season as he recovers from minor knee surgery) who can play in midfield. Not bad, and even David Luiz could step forward into midfield if needed.

That said, after losing Nathaniel Chaloboah and Matic, then loaning out Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Crystal Palace for the season, all of a sudden Conte’s midfield options are looking thin (insert smarmy joke about his hair plugs, here).

Drinkwater would, of course, be reunited with Kante in midfield if he did arrived at Stamford Bridge and the former Manchester United midfielder will want to push as hard as he can to try and get back into the England squad in a World Cup year. Drinkwater signed a new long-term deal in the aftermath of Leicester winning the PL title, but with Wilfred Ndidi, Daniel Amarety, Nampalys Mendy, Vicente Iborra, Andy King and Matty James around, could the Foxes cash in on Drinkwater?

He wouldn’t be first choice at Chelsea, at least to start with, with Bakayoko and Kante likely to man the areas in front of Chelsea’s three central defenders. Yet Drinkwater is much more than a stopper as he’s shown over the years with raking assists up to Jamie Vardy and Co. plus scoring a few screamers himself. That and the lure of being part of a squad in the UEFA Champions League could tempt Drinkwater, but a bid of over $30 million is likely needed to force Leicester to sell.


File this one under: “yeah, sure buddy…”

Per a report in the Daily Express, Inter Milan are chasing Liverpool winger Sadio Mane. The most questionable part of this report, aside from the belief that Liverpool would actually let Mane leave, is that Inter is offering just $46.2 million for Mane. That’s pretty much the same amount Liverpool paid Southampton for Mane 12 months.

So, yeah, Mane is probably worth over $75 million, at least.

The Senegalese flyer was a sensation at Anfield last season, winning Liverpool’s Player of the Year and included in the PFA Team of the Year before his season was ended in early April with a serious knee injury.

Mane handed Liverpool a huge boost by returning to action last weekend against Hertha Berlin in a friendly and it is inconcievable that Klopp would sell either Mane or Philippe Coutinho — no matter what Barcelona offers for him, the Reds simply cannot let him leave — this summer if he wants his project to be a success.

Unlike Liverpool’s other attackers Mane possess electric pass and his addition seemed like the final piece of the jigsaw for Klopp’s attack as the trickery of Roberto Firmino, Coutinho and Adam Lallana had an outlet and teams could be stretched by the threat of Mane’s pace on the counter.

Of course, Inter, like their rivals AC Milan, do have wealthy investors planning to pump plenty of cash into the club but it seems like Mane has a job to do at Liverpool for at least the next few seasons as they aim to become regular PL title contenders and in the UEFA Champions League.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

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Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.

De Gea remarks on that save after Man Utd draws Sevilla

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It was probably the save of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16’s first legs, as David De Gea slapped away Luis Muriel’s bid to give Sevilla a halftime lead over Manchester United on Wednesday in Spain.

[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]

Playing in his home country, De Gea had a massive outing in the scoreless draw.

The defiance of Muriel was De Gea’s second big save of the first half’s closing moments, and one of eight in the match.

“It was a good moment, a good save of course, especially because of the moment in the game. It was the last minute of the first half, it was important to not concede a goal. We defended well. They had control of the game, but it remains open.”

Watch the save below, and then catch De Gea against Chelsea on Sunday as two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs duke it out for Top Four positioning at Old Trafford (Watch live Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).