Sunday transfer rumor roundup: Balotelli to Reds, Arsenal like Hummels

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While Jermaine Jones to Chicago continues to dominate the latter stages of the MLS transfer window and Frank Lampard finds his way to Manchester City on loan, the rest of the world’s silly season rolls on with some of the same big names linked to new places.

Mario Balotelli has been a much-mentioned striker on the move, and AC Milan has not gone out of its way to claim adoration for the 23-year-old Italian. Now it seems Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool may be able to take advantage of Milan’s readiness to part with the striker, all for a relatively-modest $23 million.

[ RELATED: Updated team-by-team list of Premier League summer transfers ]

The Sun claims that Spurs are hot on the trail of Samuel Eto’o, but it’s a younger striker who has earned the love of White Hart Lane, according to The Sunday Mirror. Tottenham is taking a long look at Swansea/Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Bony, and remains resolute in pursuit of Southampton want-away Morgan Schneiderlin. On the Bony tip, Swans manager Garry Monk continues to claim Bony is going nowhere.

The Mirror also claims that Arsenal is ready to step into the pursuit of Germany back Mats Hummels, if indeed the Borussia Dortmund player can be pried away from the Bundesliga club. Manchester United has been heavily linked with Hummels, but UEFA Champions League football could be a motivator in his eventual decision.

[ MORE: Jurgen Klopp denies Hummels to Old Trafford move… for now ]

Cardiff City’s Championship run may or may not include Gary Medel and Jordon Mutch, with the former being long-linked to an Italy move and the latter subject to interest from Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland (and surely others, if the youngster is available). Bluebirds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that he wants resolution, and fast.

Once linked with Newcastle, versatile Chilean defender Mauricio Isla is headed to QPR. That’s the claim from his current club, Juventus, said general director Giuseppe Marotta.

“We have already reached an agreement with the English club and the player has given his availability, it will be a loan with right of a permanent deal.”

And the Dani Osvaldo to Inter deal will indeed net Southampton the services of Saphir Taider, according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Southampton has finally found a home for Osvaldo ]

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

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Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’s schedule in full.

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


2018 World Cup schedule – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE