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Transfer rumor roundup: Loan move for Hart? “Two or three clubs” interest Mahrez

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Joe Hart has, in all likelihood, played his final game for Manchester City and must leave the Etihad Stadium in search of first-team football in order to retain his place as England’s no. 1 goalkeeper.

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That much became apparent on Saturday, when Hart was dropped to the bench on Pep Guardiola‘s Premier League debut. The same happened Tuesday, when Willy Caballero again started in goal for Man City’s UEFA Champions League qualifier away to Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. Hart has exactly two weeks to find a new club that can offer the first-team football required to be selected by Sam Allardyce as England begin qualification for the 2018 World Cup at the start of September.

With so little time — and so few starting still jobs attainable — Hart is reportedly only willing to go out on loan for the remainder of the 2016-17 season before making a permanent move for the betterment of his career next summer. Two potential destinations for the 29-year-old, 63-times-capped England ‘keeper? Everton and Sevilla, according to the BBC.

Barcelona’s top two ‘keepers, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, reportedly both remain on Guardiola’s radar with the ex-Barca manager hopeful of landing a new no. 1 before the Aug. 31 transfer deadline. Spanish newspaper Marca has reported Barca will allow Bravo to leave the Nou Camp once they’ve landed his replacement, Valencia’s Diego Alves. It’s a never-ending game of transfer dominoes.


The Riyad Mahrez transfer saga seems set to last up until the Aug. 31 deadline, and Leicester City have no one but their own player to thank for the latest set of rumors.

Speaking to France Football, Mahrez issued what could be considered a thinly veiled come-and-get-me plea in an attempt to move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs: “There are two or three clubs in the world, that if they come for me, it definitely makes you think, if you understand what I am trying to say.” He went on to say:

“It [the Premier League] is a super league and I would like to stay here as long as possible.”

“It is the best league in the world, the most exciting, where there is the most at stake. There is also constantly a little uncertainty. Last year, we won the league. In Spain, you will never see Levante or Granada finishing top. In France, since the new PSG, it is the same.”

Who are those two or three clubs? Mahrez won’t say, but one can only assume Barcelona and/or Real Madrid make the cut, along with Paris Saint-Germain, where Mahrez was born and raised in the capital city’s northern suburbs. Perhaps the question that matters most: Do Arsenal make the list? They’re the side regularly linked with the 25-year-old Algerian winger, and certainly the side most desperate for a marquee signing over the next 14 days.


Christian Benteke‘s Liverpool career appears all but finished, which makes you wonder why he’s still at the club when everyone knew that was the case with months of the 2015-16 season still to be played.

The big Belgian striker doesn’t fit Jurgen Klopp‘s high-press, fast-paced system, but again, we knew this six months ago. Crystal Palace appear to be the club most keen to land the 25-year-old despite having their latest bid — $39 million after add-ons — rejected by the Reds on Tuesday. The sticking point? Liverpool want more money up front, with less contingent upon unattainable clauses.


Speaking of players who have no future at their current club, Moussa Sissoko is technically still a Newcastle United player, though the 27-year-old midfielder who starred for France at EURO 2016 has not yet and seems unlikely to appear for the club in the Championship this season.

According to French newspaper L’Equipe, Everton and Inter Milan are interested in the player, though he seems to have set his sights on a somewhat unattainable destination — Real Madrid. Newcastle are said to be seeking a transfer fee in the neighborhood of $40 million, which seems as ludicrous as Sissoko hoping to sign for the reigning Champions League winners.


Watford are close to completing the signing of 25-year-old midfielder Roberto Pereyra from Juventus, according to the Sun. Pereyra, who came up through the River Plate youth system and has represented Argentina on 10 occasions, will reportedly cost the Hornets a club-record $17 million.

Walter Mazzarri‘s side is also nearing a deal for Sunderland and ex-Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul, according to L’Equipe. After making 23 appearances in his first season at the Stadium of Light, Kaboul, 30, is said to be on the outside looking in at David Moyes‘ plans.

Griezmann could be the key for Barcelona against Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) If Lionel Messi listens to Real Betis and sits out another match, Barcelona will likely have to rely on Antoine Griezmann to finally get some points on the board.

Betis, which visits the Camp Nou on Sunday, responded to a tweet by Barcelona that Messi was back to practicing with the team for the first time since being injured in the preseason by saying: “Don’t rush, Leo. No need for you to force it!”

Barcelona couldn’t make up for Messi’s absence last weekend when its attack was held scoreless in a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao.

That was the first time the two-time defending champions had lost a Spanish league opener in a decade. And after both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid won, the pressure is on.

Barcelona acquired Griezmann after triggering the 120 million euro ($133 million) buyout clause in his contract with rival Atletico. The France forward was supposed to be the fourth piece to an already world class attack featuring Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele. But Griezmann may be left with all the scoring responsibility in his competitive home debut.

Messi strained his right calf in the team’s first practice of the season on Aug. 5 and hasn’t played since. Although it is possible he will be back to face Betis, Suarez won’t be after he injured a right leg muscle in the first half at Bilbao. Dembele has also been ruled out for several weeks with a left thigh injury.

Philippe Coutinho, who could have helped out as an attacking player, is no longer with the team after being loaned out to Bayern Munich this week. Malcom, a Brazilian forward who played sparingly for Barcelona last season, was sold to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Griezmann had a lackluster match at Bilbao. His only good scoring chance at San Mames Stadium came in the final minutes with a header.

The Frenchman, however, is used to carrying a team on his back.

Griezmann was a consistent scorer for Atletico, tallying more than 20 goals a season for five consecutive years despite the team often not having another attacking threat to draw away some of the attention of opposing defenses.

The problem at Bilbao, he said, was simply “the ball didn’t go in.”

The other player who could make the most of the opportunity created by the injuries is 21-year-old Carles Perez, a member of Barcelona’s reserve team. He impressed in the preseason, even scoring two goals in a 2-0 win over Japanese club Vissel Kobe, where former Barcelona great Andres Iniesta now plays.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde included Perez in Wednesday’s team practice.

Betis was the only team to beat Barcelona at its home stadium last season, outgunning the hosts 4-3.

Since then it has changed coaches, replacing the attack-minded Quique Setien with the more conservative Joan “Rubi” Ferrer, who led Espanyol to a Europa League berth. Barcelona also poached one of its top players, left back Junior Firpo.

Betis lost its Spanish league opener, falling 2-1 to Valladolid at home.

The last time Betis played Barcelona was in Seville in March. Messi scored three goals and received a standing ovation from the Betis fans.

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

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.