Sunday Transfer Rumor Roundup: Papiss Cisse to Qatar, Luuk de Jong wants out

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Reports have surfaced prior to Newcastle’s match today that embattled Magpies striker Papiss Cisse could be on his way to the future site of the World Cup.

The Mirror reported the Senegalese striker is the subject of a £9 million ($14.8 million) bid from an unnamed Qatari club, but other reports suggest the bid was turned down.

Later, the Daily Mail reported Newcastle manager Alan Pardew won’t allow Cisse to leave for anything under £10 million ($16.5 million).

Since bursting onto the Premier League scene last year with 13 goals in his first 12 matches, things have gone downhill fast for the 28-year-old.  He has just six starts on the Premier League season (none since early October), and just a single goal since last April.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Luuk De Jong reportedly wants out of the Bundesliga club.  Having joined Monchengladbach in the summer of 2012 in a big-money move from FC Twente, the 23-year-old has struggled to make the starting lineup ever since arthroscopic knee surgery last October.

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Luuk De Jong has struggled mightily to find the pitch at the Dusseldorf club this season, and would welcome a move elsewhere.

This season, De Jong has made 13 league appearances, but all have come off the bench and only amount to 85 total minutes.  He has not logged a goal yet.  The frustration has boiled over for the Dutch striker, who told Bild that his manager Lucien Favre “does not give me the impression that he wants to build with me.”

He has been linked to Newcastle, although any Premier League club in need of goals with some cash to spend could benefit from a move for the Dutchman. Back in December, Stoke’s Dutch defender Erik Pieters endorsed a move for his countryman.

Today David Moyes was spotted in Sardinia watching the Serie A match between Juventus and Cagliari.  It’s reported the Manchester United manager was interested in scouting Cagliari central defender Davide Astori as well as Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who scored in the match.

Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon impressed in his understudy duties for Joe Hart, and it’s alerted clubs who wish to make him a starter.  La Liga bottomfeeders Real Betis are reportedly the first to make a move, hoping to lure the Romanian shot-stopper with a spot in their starting eleven.

Pantilimon’s defensive teammate Jolean Lescott was rumored to be on his way out after a long spell on the bench, but manager Manuel Pellegrini shot that down in the media.  “When this transfer window is over at the end of January, we will see what happens. At the moment, Joleon will stay here with the team.” Pellegrini also confirmed no bids have been submitted for his services.

The rumors of Kevin De Bruyne‘s move to Wolfsburg took another step forward with reports that the move is near completion. The Daiy Star quoted Wolfsburg director of sport Klaus Allofs as declaring, “It’s not that we can confirm the deal just yet, but we are no longer so far apart with Chelsea that we can’t bridge the differences.”

Petkovic: Time to “take Switzerland seriously” after Brazil draw

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While much of the talk about Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland will focus on the former, the Swiss would like their share of credit for frustrating — and matching — one of a handful of favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic is chief among those who believe it’s time those on the outside “start taking notice of us and taking us seriously.” As for the insinuations that his side roughed up Neymar, who suffered 10 of the 19 fouls committed by Switzerland, most of them were “very clean” — quotes from the BBC:

“Sometimes if there is a lack of recognition that is a pity because we have played very well. We showed and demonstrated that this team always believes in itself and can achieve results.

“Most of the duels (with Neymar) were won in a very clean way. It was one of the key ingredients to neutralize Neymar.”

“I’m very proud and pleased with the discipline with the way we played. We worked collectively and cohesively.”

“When we are able to play forward and press higher up we were able to do it well and it is an excellent starting position for the rest of our group matches.

“We had real difficulties in the first 40 minutes, I said ‘let’s remain calm, focused and believe in ourselves, push up higher up the pitch and create opportunities to score.'”

Having secured a point in far and away their toughest group game, Switzerland now have eminently winnable games against Serbia (Friday) and Costa Rica (Wednesday, June 27) remaining. Four points from those two games would just about guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 2

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Layla Anna-Lee has a new show and, well, it’s unbiased. At least occasionally…

In the second episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, Layla Anna-Lee looks at the best moments from the first set of matches in the 2018 World Cup.

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There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.

Brazil waste Coutinho’s stunner, draw Switzerland in opener

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Brazil started brilliantly and raced out to an early lead, but the five-time World Cup winners — and one of a handful of favorites in 2018 — disappointed in the end as they settled for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in the two sides’ Group E opener.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring after 20 minutes, turning home a stunning strike from distance, off the inside of the post, to settle any early nerves and give Tite’s Selecao a 1-0 lead (WATCH HERE).

It wasn’t Brazil’s first golden scoring chance of the game, though, as Coutinho and Neymar combined down the left wing to send the latter into space inside the penalty area. Neymar played a first-time cross into the six-yard box, but Paulinho‘s scuffed effort from close range was tipped around the post by Yann Sommer.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

A bit of complacency and real lack of urgency washed over Brazil as soon as they went ahead, affording Switzerland every opportunity to get back in the game.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side needed just five second-half minutes to draw level, thanks to some shoddy set-piece defending by Brazil. Steven Zuber took up a spot at the near post, virtually unmarked inside the six-yard box, and headed past Alisson.

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The game’s most controversial moment came just after the 70-minute mark, when Gabriel Jesus was bear-hugged inside the penalty area. Wrapped up from behind, the Manchester City forward was blatantly prevented from getting to the ball after a quick passage of smooth build-up, but referee Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos was unmoved and no video review was enacted.

By the full-time whistle, Brazil had piled up 21 shots (just four on target) compared to just six from Switzerland (two). Despite on-target efforts from Neymar and Renato Augusto inside the game’s final five minutes, a winner wasn’t on the cards and the sides were forced to split the points.

Up next for Brazil is a clash with Costa Rica on Friday, while Switzerland will face Serbia the same day. The Serbs topped the Costa Ricans in Sunday’s first game, putting them top of the group after after the first of three rounds in Group E.

Video: Coutinho’s curler has Brazil flying early

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It took 20 minutes for the Selecao to get on the board, but Brazil looks every bit as good as advertised.

Tite’s side struck nearly halfway through the opening stanza when Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho curled his shot from distance off the inside of the post against Switzerland.

The Brazilians came close on several occasions prior to Coutinho’s opener, but the 26-year-old made good on the misses with his first career World Cup tally.