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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fabregas to Real Madrid, Barbosa to Man United

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Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move to Real Madrid by Spanish outlet Sport. 

Fabregas, 29, was left on the bench by new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte on Monday and did not come on as a sub in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over West Ham United. Conte told reporters after the game that he is happy with Fabregas but the former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder surely won’t stick around at Stamford Bridge long if he’s going to be a squad player.

[ MORE: Costa back to his best ]

Against West Ham in his opening PL game in charge, Conte lined up with N'Golo Kante as the lone holding player and Nemanja Matic and Oscar ahead of him in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Under Jose Mourinho he initially flourished on his return to the PL in 2014, bagging 18 assists in Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title-winning season but his form dropped off remarkably during that campaign and that hangover lasted throughout most of last season as Chelsea finished in 10th and Mourinho lost his job. Fabregas had previously been linked with a move to Manchester United to link up with Mourinho again but with United signing Paul Pogba and already possessing a bloated midfield, it seems unlikely they’d add Fabregas.

As for Real Madrid, with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Isco around, Fabregas could find it tough to get a spot in Zinedine Zidane’s team but the report states Fabregas has reached out to Florentio Perez about a possible move. Maybe he’s better off staying at Chelsea and waiting for his chance under Conte…

Manchester United have emerged as the new favorites to land Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa.

The 19-year-old striker was said to be closing in on a move to Leicester City last week but the Sun is reporting that Mourinho will pay $39 million to land the Santos striker. Barbosa has emerged as a star of the Rio Olympics as the host nation have qualified for the semifinals of the tournament.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Nicknamed “Gabigol” in his homeland, the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid want to sign Barbosa but per the report he is keen to join United. He has scored 56 goals in 152 games for Santos in the past three years and has been dubbed the new Neymar in Brazil.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney around, United do have a wealth of attacking talents but Zlatan is only on a one-year deal, plus Rashford and Martial will be mainly used out wide and Rooney as a secondary striker.

After Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Zlatan arrived this summer already, if Mourinho pulls off this bid for Gabigol it could be one of the greatest — and most expensive — transfer windows for any club ever.

A potential outgoing at Old Trafford could be Italian international right back Matteo Darmian.

Sky Sports is reporting that both AS Roma and Napoli is interested in signing the 26-year-old. Darmian arrived at the Red Devils from Torino last summer in a $16.5 million deal but has fallen behind Antonio Valencia and Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

Although Darmian can also play at left back, it is unlikely that Mourinho will want three right backs in his side, hence why rumors about Darmian departing are cropping up. With two Serie A teams interested, maybe a loan deal can be arranged for this season with a permanent deal in the making for next summer.

LIVE MLS Cup Playoffs — NYCFC hosts Toronto, Seattle-RSL

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Citi Field is the scene for New York City FC’s debut as the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dome Torrent’s men have experienced opposition in Greg Vanney’s Toronto FC, who’ve been to two finals in three years but will have to advance another round without Jozy Altidore.

[ MORE: Live scores, box scores, stats ]

USMNT prospect Keaton Parks returns from injury for City and will partner with captain Alexander Ring beneath a dangerous quartet of attack-minded players.

Toronto hasn’t lost since Aug. 3 (5W-6D) and is well-equipped to deal NYCFC’s possession system on a postage stamp pitch.

The night-cap sees a 10 p.m. ET kickoff between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake, the visitors bringing a stingy record; RSL has allowed the second fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.

The Sounders only lost two home matches this season, and have not lost a home playoff match under Brian Schmetzer.

Champions League wrap: Barcelona, Napoli hold group leads

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Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan got a necessary win, while several other notable teams had a lot of work on their hands on the way to three points in the UEFA Champions League.

Lionel Messi set another record, Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg put another scare into a big name, and both Lille and RB Leipzig puts difference-making wonder strikes on the board.

[ MORE: Genk 1-4 Liverpool | Ajax 0-1 Chelsea ]

Slavia Prague 1-2 Barcelona

Lionel Messi’s third minute goal didn’t send the Czech hosts running for cover, and Slavia Prague got a leveling goal through Jan Boril. It was deserved, too, with the hosts taking double the shots as their visitors when they made it 1-1. An own goal finished off the scoring in Prague.

Messi’s goal made him the first player to score in 15 Champions League tournaments. He’s good.

Red Bull Salzburg 2-3 Napoli

Jesse Marsch’s men know a bit about comebacks after last month’s memorable match in Liverpool, and Erling Braut Haland scored to make it 1-1 after Dries Mertens gave the favored visitors a lead. Haland answered another Mertens goal but the magic ran out for the hosts after Lorenzo Insigne provided the winner.

Lille 1-1 Valencia

Russian winger Denis Cheryshev looked like he’d see his goal stand up as a winner despite a late Valencia red card, but my goodness this equalizer from Jonathan Ikone:

Inter Milan 2-0 Borussia Dortmund

Make it six goals for Lautaro Martinez in 11 appearances for Inter Milan, who looked well-drilled at home under Antonio Conte. Roman Burki was sensational to keep the score 1-0, saving a penalty amongst several other timely interventions, but BVB couldn’t muster a goal. Antonio Candreva added the consolation marker.

Benfica 2-1 Lyon

Rafa Silva was in the right place to deposit a fourth minute goal, and Benfica rode the lead until Memphis Depay leveled in the 70th minute. Enter Pizzi, who scored with five minutes left to give Benfica a needed win. Last place Benfica is three points back of leaders RB Leipzig.

RB Leipzig 2-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg

Yaroslav Rakitskiy gave the visitors a halftime lead against the run of play but Konrad Laimer leveled the score line and then — clear the deck — Marcel Sabitzer did this:

USWNT star Morgan pregnant, due 3 months before Olympics

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Add childbirth into USWNT superstar Alex Morgan’s summer plans.

The two-time World Cup winner said the “newest member of the Carrasco family” will be a girl, due April 2020. The Olympics begin three months later.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists Chelsea winner ]

Morgan is married to LA Galaxy striker Servando Carrasco, and the comments on her Instagram post include a who’s who of soccer including Kaka and Canadian WNT star Janine Beckie.

Congratulations are of course in order for Morgan, who understandably did not comment on how the addition to her family affects her late summer plans, but NBC’s Olympic Talk reports that she plans to play:

A source close to Morgan said, after the pregnancy announcement, that her goal is to play at the Olympics. Morgan has not stated her intention publicly either way since the announcement.

Little trouble for Liverpool in blowout of Genk

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored twice as Liverpool outlasted a strong effort from their Belgian hosts in a 4-1 win over Genk in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists Chelsea winner ]

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah scored late goals to finish off the Belgians, though Stephen Odey scored an 88th minute goal after the Reds had rounded out their 4-star day.

Liverpool’s six points are one behind Napoli and three ahead of Red Bull Salzburg at the midway point of Group E play.

Three things

1. “New signing” shines: Remember when Jurgen Klopp loudly proclaimed that a healthy Oxlade-Chamberlain sufficed as a new summer signing? The playmaker was fantastic in just his third start of the season. In addition to two well-taken goals, “The Ox” completed 89 percent of his passes and was credited with 79 touches, two tackles, and two dribbles.

2. “Offensive” banner brings abrupt response: Liverpool striker Divock Origi began his youth career with Genk well before he became a Champions League winner, and a banner hung in the crowd caused both clubs to issue strong statements about its being “deeply offensive.” Liverpool said the banner, which depicted Origi’s face photoshopped on a naked body next to the UCL trophy, “perpetuated a racist stereotype.”

3. Reds defense falls asleep late:  It wasn’t a great evening for center back Dejan Lovren, who was stripped of the ball in a sleepy move on the touch line, but about six teammates could’ve done something as Genk toyed with the Reds in the box to get a late concession. Not a big deal, no, but a small on-field blemish on an otherwise wonderful afternoon.

Man of the Match: Oxlade-Chamberlain

The “Ox” put the Reds on top with a nice low drive through traffic, but the first half was not without its dodgy moments.

Case in point: Naby Keita tried a poor back pass that required timely help from Virgil Van Dijk to avoid an equalizer.

Indeed, Genk thought it had an equalizer before halftime, but VAR revealed a narrow offside in the build-up. Warning sign seen by the Reds?

Mane scored before setting up Salah for 4-0, the Egyptian doing a load of work to snub several defenders.