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Arsenal agree Aubameyang fee; Giroud, Batshuayi latest

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is edging closer to becoming an Arsenal player.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

Multiple outlets (including the Daily Telegraph) are reporting that a $77.9 million deal between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund has been agreed, which would make Aubameyang the most expensive signing in the Gunners’ history.

The Gabonese striker will also become the highest-paid player at Arsenal, with reports stating his wages will be in-excess of $250,000 per week on a deal which will run until the summer of 2021.

Arsenal’s representatives have been in talks with Dortmund officials since last week and it appears they have now reached a deal which will see the reigning Bundesliga top scorer head to the Emirates Stadium. Aubameyang has scored 141 goals in 213 appearances for Dortmund and his arrival will severely soften the blow of Alexis Sanchez leaving for Manchester United last week.

Aubameyang was due at a court hearing in Dortmund on Monday to give evidence in the Dortmund bus attack from last year but he didn’t turn up with reports saying he had flu. Aubameyang did play for Dortmund on Saturday in their draw against Freiburg but was booed by sections of the Dortmund fans at the Westfalenstadion.

When it comes to Dortmund replacing their leading goalscorer, it is believed the Bundesliga club were keen on Olivier Giroud being part of the deal but the Frenchman is said to not want to leave London and now a loan move to Chelsea could be lined up as he aims to play more regularly to get into the France squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Giroud, 31, almost joined Everton in the summer but with Chelsea aiming to bring in a target forward all January, he could well get his wish to remain in London and play a more pivotal role than he currently is at Arsenal.

To complete this transfer merry-go-round current Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, who scored twice in the FA Cup win over Newcastle on Sunday, is said to be heading to Dortmund to replace Aubameyang.

German outlet Bild says that Batshuayi will arrive at the Westfalenstadion on loan with the Belgian out of favor under Antonio Conte, but still managing to score 10 goals in all competitions this season for the Blues. Sevilla and Anderlecht have also been linked with a move for Batshuayi who arrived in the summer of 2016 but has found opportunities hard to come by behind Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata over the past 12 months.

Who are the big winners here? You have to say Arsenal.

At the start of January if you would have told Arsenal’s fans that they would get Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in, lose Alexis Sanchez and spend $77.9 million, I think they would be delighted with those deals.

Aubameyang is a proven goalscorer in the Bundesliga and European competitions and he seems to be the mobile target forward that Arsenal have wanted. With Alexandre Lacazette to play off him and the likes of Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan creating chances, all of a sudden Arsenal’s top four chances have been given a huge boost with Arsene Wenger‘s side five points off the top four.

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

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.