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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mbappe to Man City; Hazard to Barca

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Manchester City have emerged as one of the clubs who could sign Kylian Mbappe after AS Monaco’s teen sensation told the French champions he wants to leave, according to L’Equipe.

[ MORE: Messi says goodbye | Neymar’s wages

On the same day that Paris Saint-Germain all but sealed a world-record deal to sign Neymar, the team who pipped them to the French title last season are set to lose their star man.

Mbappe, 18, scored 26 goals last season as he burst onto the scene to help spearhead their title charge and also help Monaco reach the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

That incredible run has led to PSG, Manchester City, Real Madrid and now Barcelona to chase Mbappe all summer and despite talks over a new contract with Monaco it appears the French international has made up his mind and he wants out of the principality club.

With a transfer fee of over $160 million suggested for Mbappe, could Man City afford to bring him to the Etihad Stadium and still comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules? That’s the main question everyone has not only over a deal for Mbappe but also Neymar’s move to PSG, but it’s clear that both City and PSG are able to spend big due to their extreme wealth.

Mbappe has developed physically over the past six months and his power, pace and knack for timing his runs has seen every top club in Europe inquire about his services. 12 months ago nobody knew who he was. Now everybody wants him.

As well as being able to sign Mbappe under FFP rules, there’s also the considerable conundrum of where he would slot into their team. With Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus as Pep Guardiola‘s main strikers, Mbappe’s arrival could mean the end of Aguero’s time as a regular at City.

Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Raheem Sterling will all be fighting for three or four spots behind City’s strikers and although Guardiola has improved his defense this summer by signing Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, the balance of his side would be questionable at best.

If City do sign Mbappe for the reported fee then their summer of spending will be the biggest in history as the Abu Dhabi owned club has already shelled out $291 million on new players.


Eden Hazard has been linked with a move to Barcelona as the Catalan giants prepare for life after Neymar.

With Neymar’s $262 million move to Paris Saint-Germain expected to go through in the next 24 hours, Barca have been linked with a whole host of attackers with Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Mbappe and now Hazard all mentioned.

A report from the Sun newspaper states Barca will bid $130 million for each of Hazard and Coutinho, so they will spend all of the Neymar cash on two attacking midfielders who have excelled in the Premier League over the past few seasons. Per the report Hazard, 26, would be a direct replacement for Neymar and Coutinho would arrive and be groomed as Andres Iniesta’s successor in a central midfield role.

Seems like an easy fix, right?

Well, with Liverpool standing firm on Coutinho (in every single press conference Jurgen Klopp rules out selling his Brazilian playmaker) and both players recently signing new long-term deals, it’s obvious they are happy at their clubs. That said, can Chelsea and Liverpool really turn down this sort of cash for their star attacking talents in the knowledge that this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime offer which will come off the back of the Neymar deal?

Coutinho and Hazard would obviously fit straight into Barca’s attacking lineup alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi and their arrivals would patch up the considerable hole Neymar has left behind at the Nou Camp.

Where do these deals rank in the likelihood scale out of 10? Right around a 4. But then again, last month how likely did it seem that Neymar would end up at PSG?

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham

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Southampton will host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both sides hoping to pick up three points for very different reasons.

The Saints are currently in the midst of a fierce relegation battle through 23 matches, and sit in 18th place in the Premier League, while Spurs are hoping challenge for a top-four position.

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Mauricio Pellegrino‘s Southampton could get defender Maya Yoshida back in time for Sunday’s match, however, the side will be without Charlie Austin once more, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, a number of key figures will miss the match for Tottenham, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Harry Winks. Also, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld remain sidelined with injuries, although the latter is expected to be back soon.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pellegrino on state of the Saints: “We are not happy with our position but in three or four weeks’ time everything can change. It’s part of our competition. I feel in our team the spirit is really good and everybody is conscious about what we need. I receive these messages from players every day, and we have to convert these feelings into stats.”

Mauricio Pochettino on potential January moves: “To be honest it will be difficult. At some point you always dream but not too much exciting [is happening]. If it happens, it happens. If not, then it doesn’t happen. We are happy with the squad.”

Prediction

Harry Kane is firing at an absurd rate recently, and Southampton’s current form is worrisome to say the least. With just four wins all season, it’s hard to imagine the Saints coming out in front in their clash. Southampton 0-3 Tottenham