Transfer Rumor Roundup: Spurs to snatch Laporte, Liverpool in for Reid

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With the transfer window nearly complete, there’s precious little time to make a move. This is the time when some teams look to take advantage of the slow movement by others.

Tottenham is on either end of that spectrum.

They are reportedly looking to snatch up Manchester United target Aymeric Laporte, a 20-year-old French defender playing for Athletic Bilbao in Spain. Manchester United could use a serious overhaul of its back line, with injuries and sub-par performances dotting the defensive landscape this season as the squad continues to rebuild. Laporte is reportedly a target for Louis van Gaal, but according to new reports the Red Devils are more likely to wait until the summer to begin their courting of the youngster.

This has opened the door for other sides to try and rush a deal this winter, and Spurs is one of those interested in trying to push something through, according to the Daily Star. The report says he has a very expensive $48 million release clause that Manchester United were looking to trigger in the summer, but Spurs could offer around half that to Bilbao for his transfer now, something that may entice a Spanish club in a league full of debt and financial troubles. However, it would be painful for Bilbao to lose Laporte this winter, with in 11th position but still in the relegation mix in a very crowded bottom half of the La Liga table, just five points above the drop.

Another last ditch effort leaves Spurs on the other end. Reports have tabbed them to be the leaders for West Ham defender Winston Reid should he choose to leave the Hammers (which seems unlikely at this point), but Liverpool may be jumping in to make a late play. Reid is out of a contract at the end of the season, and is one of the major reasons why Sam Allardyce’s side has found itself firmly in the top half of the table.

According to the Daily Mirror, the Reds are going to make an attempt for Reid’s services, and West Ham would be wise to sell if they don’t believe they will be in for a contract extension down the stretch. The report states that if West Ham sell Reid, they’d look to replace him with former Spurs defender Vedran Corluka, now playing in Russia for Spartak Moscow.

Finally, there’s a slightly concerning report for Chelsea fans that states the club still hasn’t agreed upon a set transfer fee with Wolfsburg for the departure of Andre Schurrle. Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs told German publication Wolfsburger Nachrichten earlier today, “There is currently no agreement. Time is running out. The possibilities are to hour less of an hour.”

However, reports out of Italy state the deal is nearing completion, and that the final hurdle is who pays a “solidarity clause” that sees a 5% payment of the final transfer fee going to the club that developed Schurrle as a youth. A similar hurdle was completed in the Juan Cuadrado transfer to Chelsea, and it’s unclear if that deal is contingent on Schurrle’s sale being completed. Chelsea appears to be in a decent Financial Fair Play position, with their transfer dealings this season at around the break-even point, suggesting the deals are likely not to be mutually exclusive.

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.