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Friday’s transfer rumor roundup: Kroos, Pato to Chelsea; Townsend’s exit

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They may currently sit 14th in the Premier League, but Chelsea are still in the business of big spending in the transfer market. The latest superstar in their crosshairs? Real Madrid’s World Cup-winning midfielder Toni Kroos, for whom they’ve already tabled a bid of more than $55 million, according to the Daily Star.

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The Blues are also close to completing the signing of 26-year-old Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato from Brazilian side Corinthians, according to a report from ESPN Brazil. With Diego Costa currently injured, Loic Remy perhaps on the move away from Stamford Bridge, and no other cover at striker present, Chelsea might just be willing to meet Corinthians’ $14-million asking price.

Leicester City have entered the Saido Berahino sweepstakes, according to the Mirror, as Claudio Ranieri‘s side makes a push for a top-four finish this season. Berahino, who was denied a move to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, is also once again being heavily linked with a move to north London. West Bromwich Albion still aren’t looking to sell, though.

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumors | Wednesday | Tuesday | Monday ]

Andros Townsend will likely leave Tottenham either this month or in the summer. Newcastle United will reportedly bid $17 million for the 24-year-old winger in January, as the Magpies attempt to stave off relegation once again. Very much out of favor with manager Mauricio Pochettino, Townsend has made just three substitute appearances in the PL this season.

Outside the Premier League, AC Milan’s on-loan (Monaco) forward Stephen El Shaarawy is the target of “a big Italian club,” according to ESPN FC. The mystery Serie A side — Juventus? Roma? — would reportedly end the 23-year-old’s loan spell in France by signing the Italian international on a permanent transfer in January.

Analyzing the UCL draw for Premier League sides

Champions League draw Klopp Simeone
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The UEFA Champions League draw has been held, and Premier League sides face Bundesliga and La Liga tests.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

What awaits them? Read on…


  • Liverpool v. Atletico Madrid
    Feb. 18 at the Wanda Metropolitano
    March 11 at Anfield

Atletico Madrid may be six points off La Liga’s leaders with one more match played, but no one doubts Diego Simeone’s acumen in Europe. Yes, that’s even true after Atleti needed the final day to escape a group stage with Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Madrid side has made the knockout rounds in six of seven seasons, twice losing the final to derby rivals Real.

Atleti have allowed a miserly 10 goals in 18 league matches, and five in six in the UCL.

The problem has been finding an attacking chemistry following the departure of Antoine Griezmann. Alvaro Morata leads the way with eight goals in 19 matches, while Joao Felix is second with four in 17. No one else has more than two.

The reigning champions get a tournament-savvy opponent, and Jurgen Klopp versus Simeone has to be near the top of the Round of 16’s managerial dog pile.


  • Tottenham Hotspur v. RB Leipzig
    Feb. 19 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    March 10 at Red Bull Arena

Current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig have scored Germany’s most goals while conceding the fewest, and won Group G with Benfica, Lyon, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Timo Werner leads the way with 21 goals and nine assists in 23 matches, and American fans will hope healing midfielder Tyler Adams is back in the fold and firing by February.

Jose Mourinho will match wits with 32-year-old managerial phenom Julian Nagelsmann, who led Hoffenheim to the Champions League groups stage in 2018-19. You might remember their twice scoring first in 2-1 losses to Man City.

Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann on facing Spurs: “They’re one of Europe’s top teams, playing in a fantastic city with star players who have a lot of experience. It won’t be easy but we’re really looking forward to it, especially playing in that stadium. Spurs have a world-class manager in Jose Mourinho. The games will be exciting and we’ll need to put in two top performances. We’re more than capable of doing that. What a tie! We can’t wait!”


  • Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
    Feb. 25 at Stamford Bridge
    March 18 at the Allianz Arena

It’s been an off season for Bayern Munich at home in Germany, the fifth place side nevertheless stream rolling Group B of the UCL with 24 goals scored and just five conceded versus Spurs, Olympiacos, and Red Star Belgrade.

Frank Lampard doesn’t really know his opposing manager yet, as Bayern handed the interim tag to Hansi Flick through the end of 2019 after firing Niko Kovac.

Bayern has not been great at the back in league play and has suffered numerous injuries, but Chelsea has plenty to worry about in 29-goal Robert Lewandowski. The Polish center forward is having one of the best seasons in the world.


  • Manchester City v. Real Madrid
    Feb. 26 at the Bernabeu
    March 17 at the Etihad Stadium

Real Madrid is currently second in La Liga on points, trailing rivals Barcelona on goal differential ahead of Wednesday’s El Clasico. Real was clearly second best in its UCL group, taking just one point from PSG while struggling with Club Brugge and sweeping the points from Galatasaray.

Los Merengues can certainly score, but their league strength this season has been in defense.

Man City has not beaten Real Madrid in four meetings all-time, but its manager has a fine record against his longtime Spanish rivals.

Pep Guardiola is 9-4-4 all-time against Real Madrid, the club he’s faced joint-most in his managerial career (Arsenal). However, he’s lost his last three against Los Merengues: one Clasico and the 2013-14 UCL semifinals as Bayern Munich boss.

Wouldn’t Real relish the chance to sour Guardiola’s tenure at the Etihad?

UCL draw: Man City, Liverpool off to Madrid

Guardiola Zidane UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League draw sends two Premier League sides to Madrid and another two to Germany.

Pep Guardiola will get another chance to meet his longtime El Clasico rivals as the longtime Barcelona boss leads Manchester City against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League this season.

The Round of 16 draw also saw Premier League leaders Liverpool draw a Madrid side, with Atletico Madrid on the docket for Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Bayern Munich will face a London side for the second-straight round as Chelsea meets the German champions, while Tottenham Hotspur gets a German opponent as well in the form of RB Leipzig.

Full UEFA Champions League draw

Bayern Munich v. Chelsea — Feb. 25 and March 18

Juventus v. Lyon — Feb. 26 and March 17

Paris Saint-Germain v. Borussia Dortmund — Feb. 18 and March 11

Valencia v. Atalanta — Feb. 19 and March 10

Barcelona v. Napoli — Feb. 25 and March 18

Manchester City v. Real Madrid — Feb. 26 and March 17

Liverpool v. Atletico Madrid — Feb. 18 and March 11

RB Leipzig v. Tottenham Hotspur — Feb. 19 and March 10

Europa League draw: Arsenal, Man Utd, Wolves learn fate

Europa League Manchester United Club Brugge
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Premier League sides learned their fate in the UEFA Europa League, and not one of them were handed an easy path to the Round of 16.

Manchester United drew Club Brugge, who transferred from the Champions League after a third place finish. The sides met in UCL qualifying back in 2015, the Red Devils cruising past the Belgians.

[ MORE: Champions League draw ]

Arsenal tangles with stingy Greek side Olympiacos, having met in four Champions League group stages between 2009-15.

Wolves draw a side its never faced: La Liga mainstay Espanyol.

The notable matches don’t stop there.

American coach Jesse Marsch will lead Red Bull Salzburg against the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt.

Old Firm rivals Celtic and Rangers both learned their fates, the Bhoys will meet Danish powers Copenhagen and Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers clash with Braga.

The Round of 32 matches will be staged Feb. 20 and 27.

Europa League Round of 32
Wolves v. Espanyol
Sporting Lisbon v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Getafe v. Ajax
Bayer Leverkusen v. Porto
Copenhagen v. Celtic
APOEL Nicosia v. Basel
CFR Cluj v. Sevilla
Olympiacos v. Arsenal
AZ Alkmaar v. LASK
Club Brugge v. Manchester United
Ludogorets Razgrad v. Inter Milan
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Red Bull Salzburg
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Benfica
Wolfsburg v. Malmo
Roma v. Gent
Rangers v. Braga

Americans Abroad: Chandler earns start after lengthy absence; McKennie leaves injured

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On a relatively quiet weekend for Americans abroad, Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht Frankfurt for the first time since mid-September.

In England, Christian Pulisic made another start for Chelsea, while Lynden Gooch returned to action with Sunderland after a few months of inactivity.

But while some came back from inactivity, Weston McKennie was stretched off the field on Sunday after landing on his shoulder in Schalke’s 1-0 win over Frankfurt.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic started and played 65 minutes in Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. The attacker failed to record a single shot.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback watched the Magpies’ 1-0 loss to Burnley from the bench on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson continues to rack up the minutes at Wigan. The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan picked up a point against struggling Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old didn’t dress in Reading’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain started and played the full 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic on Friday.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender started at centerback and played 67 minutes in QPR’s 5-3 loss to Barnsley.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Like Miazga, Carter-Vickers, too, was absent during Saturday’s bout.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 88 minutes in Derby’s 1-0 loss to Millwall.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch came off the bench and played 18 minutes in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool – the first minutes for the Californian since mid-October.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  13 minutes into the game on Sunday, McKennie was stretched off the field after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Despite making four saves, Steffen allowed three goals in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-0 loss to RB Leipzig on Saturday. Morales did not dress.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent is out with an injury for the remainder of the calendar year.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress for RB Leipzig.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson didn’t dress for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — The veteran defender started and played 90 minutes for the first time since mid-September.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder is out with an injury.

Bobby Wood, Hamburg – Wood dressed but didn’t play in Hamburg’s 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest didn’t dress for Ajax on Sunday.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 45 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 2-1 loss to PEC Zwolle.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t dress for FC Emmen on Sunday.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah didn’t dress for Lille on Friday.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu didn’t dress for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable mentions:

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund U-19 —  Reyna’s praiseworthy campaign in Germany continues, scoring a goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 win over Alemannia Aachen on Sunday.