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Ligue 1: PSG win title after crushing defending champs Monaco 7-1

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain won the French league title after beating defending champion Monaco 7-1 on Sunday, with the crushing victory highlighting the obvious gulf between the two teams this season.

Monaco meekly surrendered the title that it had won so impressively last season, doing little to prolong the suspense. It was losing 4-0 after 28 minutes as PSG easily did enough for a fifth title in six seasons and a seventh overall. PSG leads second-place Monaco by 17 points with five rounds remaining.

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and winger Angel Di Maria scored two goals each, while league top scorer Edinson Cavani grabbed his 25th of the season.

PSG captain Thiago Silva’s header went in off Radamel Falcao — Monaco’s top scorer — for PSG’s sixth goal before Germany winger Julian Draxler netted the seventh.

Monaco’s Lemar issues come-and-get-me plea to Arsenal, Liverpool

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Thomas Lemar is not long for Monaco, at least not if he gets his way.

[ MORE: Bale says winning China Cup would trump trophies with Madrid ]

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has seen multiple transfers fall short of completion over the past year — first to Arsenal in the summer, then to Liverpool following the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona — and was ultimately left with no choice other than to remain with the defending Ligue 1 champions for another season.

Fast-forward a few months, and Lemar’s already got one — if not two — eye on the upcoming summer transfer window. While on international duty with the French national team this week, Lemar was inevitably asked about his future, and he saw little reason to hold back — quotes from Telefoot, translated by talkSPORT:

Lemar admitted he was “a little disappointed” that his move to Arsenal failed to materialize but vowed to work hard to make sure the lucrative offers would come back.

“Regrets? Maybe. I was a little disappointed.

“Once it’s over, it’s over, so do not think about it. I will keep working hard so these clubs will eventually come back in the next transfer window. I am open to all offers. I am a football player, I like football. I do not close any door.”

In the end, staying at Monaco was the right thing to do this year. With the 2018 World Cup on the horizon, and an embarrassment of attacking talent available to Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps, Lemar could have easily fallen out of the 23-man squad if he didn’t get regular first-team minutes or failed to settle into a new club immediately.

[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018 World Cup ]

After the World Cup, however, will be a totally different story.

Report: Liverpool closing in on Thomas Lemar

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Ah, just what Liverpool need, another attacking midfielder to score goals and cause havoc…

They’ve been linked with Thomas Lemar for quite some time and although Jurgen Klopp had seemed disinterested in Lemar in January, a fresh report from French outlet Le 10 Sport claims that Monaco and Liverpool are close to agreeing a deal in principle for the 22-year-old French international.

Report state that Lemar would cost over $100 million.

Lemar was chased by both Liverpool and Arsenal last summer and although Gunners looked likely to sign him at the end of the summer window, he backed out of the move.

The tricky attacker, who can operate across midfield, dazzled during Monaco’s 2016-17 title winning campaign in France as they also reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. Lemar scored 14 goals across 55 games in all competitions last season with 14 assists, but this season he has struggled to find the back of the net with three goals but he does have seven assists in Ligue 1.

Do Liverpool really need Lemar?

With Mohamed Salah in fine form out wide with 24 goals in the Premier League and 32 in all competitions, plus Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane scoring goals and creating havoc with a fine blend of attacking players, Klopp seems to have his attack sorted.

After losing Philippe Coutinho he paid $100 million for center back Virgil Van Dijk and still has roughly $94 million left to spend. With Adam Lallana and Danny Ings around, plus Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge out on loan, bringing in Lemar seems like adding another talented player to a squad which already seems unbalanced.

Then again, with his high-pressing tactics and injuries being kind to Mane, Salah and Firmino for most of this season, maybe Klopp realizes that he needs one more attacking midfield to add into the rotation to keep everyone fresh.

Lemar’s talents certainly seem to fit in with Liverpool playing ethos.

Southampton agree $27 million fee for Monaco’s Carrillo

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Southampton are spending that Virgil Van Dijk cash.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that talks have been ongoing for days between Monaco and Saints, and Southampton have now agreed a club-record $27 million fee with Monaco for Argentine striker Guido Carrillo.

Per a source with information on the situation, Southampton hope to have the signing of Carrillo completed by the time they play Watford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday at St Mary’s.

The striker previously played for current Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino at Argentine side Estudiantes and moved to Monaco in 2015. He is renowned for his strong aerial ability and he seems to be in the same mold as Graziano Pelle, who Saints have never quite replaced since he left in the summer of 2016.

However, Carrillo, 26, has found minutes hard to come by this season with 22 appearances in all competitions but just two starts in Ligue 1.

Saints have been searching for a new goalscorer for most of the past 12 months after Manolo Gabbiadini‘s lethal initial form dried up following his arrival from Napoli last January. Carrillo’s goalscoring record is far from clinical but he has had limited opportunities for the reigning French champions and he’s a player Pellegrino knows well.

With top goalscorer Charlie Austin battling with injuries for the past two seasons, Saints have the less than prolific Shane Long as their only other forward option with 17-year-old Michael Obafemi coming off the bench late on against Tottenham last weekend in their 1-1 draw to showcase their lack of forward options.

Pellegrino’s side are currently on the longest winless run in the Premier League (11 games) and are in the relegation zone, but are just four points off 10th place in the incredibly tight battle against the drop.

With a $42 million deal for Spartak Moscow winger Quincy Promes also said to be in the works, it appears Saints are gambling on Carrillo and Promes to save their PL status in the final months of the season.

Transfer rumor roundup: Zlatan to leave United; City’s offer to Alexis

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The Alexis Sanchez-to-Manchester City transfer saga, which began in the summer, seems headed down the same path as Philippe Coutinho-to-Barcelona, which also began in the summer and culminated in a move in January

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

While Arsene Wenger insists no approach has been made to the club, the Guardian claims that Man City have already offered Sanchez a five-and-a-half-year, $340,000-per-week contract that would begin this month, should City and Arsenal agree a transfer fee for the 29-year-old.

[ MORE: Wenger says no approaches for Alexis Sanchez… yet ]

According to Yahoo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could leave Manchester United before the end of the season. Man United would prefer to keep Ibrahimovic through the end of his current contract which expires this summer, but the Red Devils do not expect him to return for a third season at Old Trafford and could choose to cash in (for a presumably small-ish fee) in the coming weeks or months, should an MLS or Chinese Super League side tempt the 36-year-old away from the Premier League. It is understood that United would not stand in his way in such a scenario.

[ MORE: Man City come back to lead Bristol City in League Cup semi ]

With Coutinho having left for Barcelona, Liverpool find themselves sitting on a cool $95 million, even after parting with $100 million for Virgil Van Dijk earlier this month. As such, a replacement attacker is expected to top Jurgen Klopp‘s wish list. According to the Mirror, 22-year-old Monaco playmaker Thomas Lemar, who was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal as part of Sanchez’s failed move to City, will cost any potential suitors — you guessed it — somewhere between $95 million and $125 million.

[ MORE: MLS comings & goings — LA, RSL, Colorado make big moves ]

Michy Batshuayi has made just two PL starts this season and could finish the campaign out on loan, according to ESPN UK. Sevilla are said to be interested in the 24-year-old who just eight months ago scored the PL title-clinching goal for Chelsea. Squarely stuck behind Alvaro Morata, last summer’s $81-million centerpiece signing, Batshuayi’s place in the Belgium squad for this summer’s World Cup is in real danger.