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U-17 World Cup semifinals feature 3 powerhouses, one minnow

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On Wednesday morning, the final of the U-17 World Cup will be decided. In contention are three familiar faces and one very unfamiliar one.

Mali stands among habitual powerhouses Spain, Brazil, and England as the African nation looks to find a stunning path to the U-17 World Cup final. They will take on Spain in the semis, opposite a mouth-watering matchup between the electric young England side against a Brazil squad that took down Germany in the quarterfinals.

England will have its hands full with tournament favorite Brazil with a 7:30 a.m. ET kick from Kolkata. The young South American squad boasts wins over Germany and Spain already, and they have conceded just two goals all competition. Their attacking talent is incredibly balanced, with Santos product Lincoln running the show in attacking midfield. Internacional striker Brenner is his target man up front, while Cruziero’s Gabriel Brazao holds things down between the sticks, conceding just a penalty and an own-goal so far this tournament. Their captain is Palmeiras center-back Vitao, who ranked #16 on Sports Illustrated’s Top 20 Under 20 list, and he will lead the charge for Brazil’s first U-17 World Cup trophy since 2003.

England will be up to the task. They dispatched the United States in the quarterfinals thanks to a hat-trick from Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster, who has recently joined the Reds after spending much of his youth development at Chelsea. They have been prolific most of the time, but a 0-0 performance against Japan in the Round of 16 (where they won in penalties) leaves them vulnerable against a stifling Brazil defense. They will need to muck up the midfield, where Brazil makes its hay, in order to have a chance in the match. That might fall to Manchester City youngster Phil Foden, along with the more defensive-minded Tashan Oakley-Boothe of Spurs development.

What makes the Mali and Spain matchup – scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET in Navi Mumbai – so intriguing is that both teams lost their very first game of the competition. They have both recovered in spectacular fashion, with Spain finishing second to Brazil in Group D, while Mali finished second to Paraguay in Group B. Despite their early slip, the two sides have been spectacular.

Mali has outscored opponents 13-3 since their opening match loss, including a five-goal output against Iraq in their first knockout match. 17-year-old striker Lassana Ndiaye has been spectacular, tied for the tournament lead with five goals and the only man standing of the other two individuals level with him. On the other end, goalkeeper Youssuf Koita has made 19 saves, although he has just one clean sheet to show for it. This team has been here before, as runners-up at the 2015 World Cup, but their knockout path in that run included North Korea, Croatia, and Belgium.

They take on Spain who has been exactly what you’d expect from the European giants. After falling by a single goal to Brazil in the opening match, they have dispatched opponents by a combined 11-2, holding a pair of clean sheets in group stage matches but looking somewhat beatable in knockout games against France and Iran. Nevertheless, they have spectacular talent, led by captain and leading goalscorer Abel Ruiz, a striker in the Barcelona youth system. Another Barcelona youth product Sergio Gomez is a dangerous attacker down the left flank. This should be a match of stunning attacking quality and fabulous future talent.

Both matches will prove to be of delicious intrigue, with the stars of the future set to make their mark on the international stage.

Chelsea update on transfer deals for Dzeko, Palmeri

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Chelsea are keeping their cards close to their chest when it comes to the potential arrival of Roma duo Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeri.

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It has been reported that Chelsea have bid $72.5 million for the pair, with Dzeko, 31, fitting the ball for the target forward they’ve been searching for.

Speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s League Cup semifinal second leg at Arsenal on Wednesday, Conte was tight-lipped over the approach for Dzeko and left back Palmeri.

“I don’t know. As you know very well about the transfer market, if there are news the club will inform you,” Conte said.

As for Roma, they have acknowledged that Dzeko, the former Manchester City striker, has been impacted by the talks surrounding his future.

Speaking ahead of their game against Sampdoria on Wednesday, manager Eusebio Di Francesco had the following to say about Dzeko’s future.

“As things stand at the moment, he will. Obviously I’m going to have to assess things and see what frame of mind he’s in. I’ll speak to him about it,” Di Francesco said.

With Roma fighting for the Italian title and in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it’s tough to understand why they would want to offload Dzeko in January. However with Dzeko now 31, Roma could recoup all of the $40 million they paid to Man City (and then some) for the Bosnian forward in 2015. That’s a decent deal for them after getting two-and-a-half seasons and 61 goals in 117 appearances in all competitions (46 goals in 88 Serie A games) from Dzeko.

The man who won the Premier League title twice with Man City may also feel like he has a little left to prove in England as he fell behind Sergio Aguero and many others in the pecking order towards the end of his time at the Etihad Stadium. It is also believed Dzeko will almost double his wages if he moves from Roma to Chelsea.

With Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll mentioned as potential signings for Chelsea as Conte looks for a big man to mix up his attacking options, Dzeko is by far the most prolific name mentioned and he must have previously impressed Chelsea this season after scoring twice against them in a 3-3 Champions League draw at Stamford Bridge in October.

Alvaro Morata is out of form and has struggled with injuries, plus Michy Batshuayi has struggled to deliver whenever he has stepped in so far so this season, getting a reliable back-up striker has become the main aim for a Chelsea side in third place in the Premier League table and still in the FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League.

As for Palmeri, the deal for the Brazilian born left back, 23, will see him become a valuable squad member and add depth at left wing-back with no real options to back up Marcos Alonso. Think of a left-footed Davide Zappacosta who steps in admirably for Victor Moses at right wing-back whenever needed.

With Cesar Apzilicueta now a permanent fixture at center back, Conte needs help at left back, especially as he revealed on Tuesday that a loan deal for Kenedy to Newcastle United is all but complete.

Arsenal confirm talks over Aubameyang transfer

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Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal are in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over signing striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis and their new Director of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat, are in German to talk with Dortmund about a deal for the 28-year-old Gabonese forward.

Aubamyenag hasn’t played in Dortmund’s last two games, first due to a disciplinary problem and he was then left out of their squad to face Hertha Berlin last Friday due to a lack of focus. The man who has scored 141 goals in 212 appearances for Dortmund in all competitions since 2013 seems to be edging his way out of the Westfalenstadion.

Asked if he was confident that the reigning Bundesliga top goalscorer would arrive at Arsenal during the January window, here’s what Wenger had to say.

“Confident or not confident, I don’t know. You never know how close you are,” Wenger said. “This is the kind of thing – he is one of the possible movements, but we have other things in mind as well. We have plenty of opportunities and the final decision is not made. At the moment we are not close to any deal, Aubameyang or anybody else.”

Okay, Arsene, so you may have other targets too. You sly fox…

But seriously, it seems like Arsenal have gone all in on Aubameyang and given his goalscoring record over the past five seasons, who can blame them? Here comes the juicy stuff.

Reports have stated that Dortmund wanted Olivier Giroud plus cash in exchange for Aubameyang, but Wenger said that negotiations aren’t yet at that stage.

Various reports over the weekend suggested that a fee of close to $70 million would nab Aubameyang from Dortmund, but it is believed Arsenal have offered close to $61 million so far.

The languid forward is a good friend of new Arsenal signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the duo wrecked havoc during their time together at Dortmund, and having Ozil and Mkhitaryan thread balls into Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang will leave Gunners fans salivating uncontrollably.

Stop drooling. Whip your keyboard or smartphone clean. But if Arsenal pull off this deal for Aubameyang, it could well signal a new era of challenging for the top four seriously and getting themselves back into the title conversation.

Yes, they’ve lost a final talent in Alexis Sanchez in the swap deal with Mkhitaryan, but they also gained a fine playmaker who will slot into their style of play seamlessly and they could have one of the most lethal marksman in world soccer on his way.

An intriguing final eight days of the window away with Wenger, Arsenal and Aubameyang.

List of top 30 richest clubs in world revealed

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10 Premier League were listed among the top 20 richest clubs in the world, with 14 PL clubs in the top 30.

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Deloitte released their Football Money League findings after analyzing the financial performance of clubs across the world for the 2016-17 season, with Manchester United coming out on top for the second season on the spin and the 10th time overall.

However, United were less than $2.2 million ahead of Real Madrid who finished in second, as the reigning European and Spanish champions switched places with third-place Barcelona. Bayern Munich and Manchester City rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth place respectively.

14 PL clubs were in the top 30, an increase from 12 this time last year. Arsenal were in sixth, Chelsea in eighth, Liverpool in ninth, Leicester in 14th, West Ham in 17th, Southampton in 18th and Everton in 20th.

Southampton are the only newcomer into the top 20, with Saints benefiting from their eighth-place finish in the PL last season, their fourth-straight finish in the top eight of the Premier League table, plus their appearance in the Europa League for a second-straight season. The South Coast boom in the PL also saw Bournemouth as the only debutants in places 21-30 with the Cherries now the 28th richest club on the planet, with Crystal Palace, West Brom and Stoke also among the top 30.

A noticeable trend is that Italian giants AS Roma and AC Milan both slipped out of the top 20, while just one team from France featured in the top 20 (Paris Saint-Germain), plus three teams each from Italy, Germany and Spain.

Below is a look at the top 30 and how much revenue they generated in 2016-17, with a more in-depth look at the top 20 available here via Deloitte.


  • 1. Manchester United: $828.4 million
  • 2. Real Madrid: $826.2.m
  • 3. Barcelona: $794m
  • 4. Bayern Munich: $720m
  • 5. Manchester City: $646.4m
  • 6. Arsenal: $597.1m
  • 7. Paris Saint Germain: $595.5m
  • 8. Chelsea: $524.2m
  • 9. Liverpool: $519.6m
  • 10. Juventus: $496.9m
  • 11. Tottenham: $435.5m
  • 12. Borussia Dortmund: $407.3m
  • 13. Atletico Madrid: $333.7m
  • 14. Leicester City: $332m
  • 15. Inter Milan: $321m
  • 16. Schalke: $281.9m
  • 17. West Ham: $261.3m
  • 18. Southampton: $259.8m
  • 19. Napoli: $245.8m
  • 20. Everton: $244m
  • 21. Lyon: $242.9m
  • 22. AC Milan: $234.8m
  • 23. Zenit St Petersburg: $220.9m
  • 24. Roma: $210.4m
  • 25. Borussia Monchengladbach: $207.5m
  • 26. Crystal Palace: $200.8m
  • 27. West Bromwich Albion: $196.6m
  • 28. Bournemouth: $195m
  • 29. Stoke City: $193.9m
  • 30. Benfica: $193.1m

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.