Barcelona pendulum swings to Daniel Agger, away from David Luiz?

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There’s always a chance Barcelona will pay for both, but whereas last week the soccer world’s Universal Rumor Mill was spinning David Luiz-to-Barça, this week its focusing on Daniel Agger. The Liverpool defender has been linked with a move to Cataluyna all summer, but with Luiz still at Stamford Bridge, it seems time to for the gossip pages to zero-in on the Dane. And if a deal for Agger isn’t completed this week, Luiz’s mug shot can go back on the cork board next Monday.

The potential Agger deal has the benefit of the player being interesting in the move. At least, that’s what today’s reports are claiming. Barcelona’s placed a $23 million bid for the Danish tattoosmith, it’s been rejected, but should the teams come to terms, Agger would actually be fine making the second switch of his club career.

From the player’s agent:

“We are aware that Barcelona have made an offer for Daniel that Liverpool have rejected,” said Steffensen, who was approached by an agent representing the Spanish club several weeks ago. “Daniel has a contract with Liverpool for the next three years and it would be up to the clubs to agree a fee for his transfer in order for that to change.”

That’s not “and he wants to see the deal out.” It’s also not “Daniel wants to play Champions League football.” It’s decidedly in the middle, perhaps an attempt to say “We’d like to see it happen, but we’re not going to force a deal.”

And everything you need to know about why a deal’s unlikely to happen this month, even if Agger forces it:

With Carragher gone, Sebastián Coates failing to convince Rodgers and Martin Skrtel’s position uncertain having been told he can leave Liverpool earlier in the summer, only to be informed last week that he would not be sold, the Anfield club can ill afford to lose their most influential centre-half. That was reflected in the response to Barcelona, who have targeted either Agger or David Luiz but have received no encouragement from Chelsea that the Brazil international is for sale.

So where does this leave Barcelona? It seems Gerardo Martino wants reinforcements at the back, but with the team’s high standard and limited time left in the summer window, there are very few candidates. That’s why they seem to be bouncing back and forth between Chelsea and Liverpool, but with neither club needing to sell or capable of weathering the loss of their best defender, it doesn’t look good for Barcelona.

The Spanish champions may need to target some depth players, hope Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra stay healthy, then concentrate on January. In the interim, they can start working with some clubs toward a winter buy, preparing them for the need to replace a key player in a way they haven’t with Chelsea and Liverpool. Hopefully they’ll have reinforcements mid-season.

That’s not ideal, and most elite defenders will already be playing in Champions League. Though Liverpool will have one guy who’s not.

 

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.