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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.

Watch Live: Everton v. Chelsea

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Everton host Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Duncan Ferguson takes interim charge of the struggling Toffees.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Everton sit in the relegation zone and after they fired Marco Silva, they badly need a morale-boosting win against a young, talented Chelsea. Frank Lampard‘s side remain in the top four but this will be a tough test as they head to Goodison with Everton scrapping for their lives.

In team news Everton make two changes as Ferguson brings in Walcott and Schneiderlin to the starting lineup in a very attacking side.

Chelsea are unchanged from their midweek win against Aston Villa.

LINEUPS

Top Premier League storylines: Matchweek 16

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Matchweek 16 is upon us.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on when this weekend’s fixtures kick off Saturday morning…


Manchester derby, perhaps you’ve heard of it 

Manchester City might not take home their third straight PL title, given Liverpool’s 11-point lead after 15 games, but they can still maintain their superiority in Manchester. They’re well on their way to doing so in the table, now they can get (another0 one over the Red Devils on Saturday. At what point do they take over the title of “bigger club?” Asking for a friend…


The start of something big for Chelsea?

Marco Silva is gone with Everton siting 18th in the table. Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half with the Blues sitting fourth. Could this week get any worse? for Everton? Could it get any better for Chelsea?


Desperation time for Arsenal

Unai Emery was fired, which was supposedly to magically fix all of the problems at Arsenal. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Well, we’re two games into the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era, and the Gunners have just one point to show for their efforts, and they had to come back from a goal down (twice) against 19th-place Norwich City to get it. Every trip to West Ham is a tricky one for Arsenal, and that’s doubly true given their current form (winless in their last nine games – all competitions).


Does Liverpool’s lead grow? Shrink? Hold steady?

From now until the end of the season, it’s Liverpool’s title to lose. No matter how you look at it, it’s theirs to either win or lose. Therefore, every time out presents a chance to grow their lead, or the risk of seeing it shrink should the drop points and one of the chasing sides to take all three. The math behind it is a bit boring, but if they don’t drop more than 10 points the rest of the season, they’ll win the title. Of course, their margin for error is likely to grow with Leicester and City eventually failing to win. Simply put, Liverpool are sitting comfortably.


Good times roll for Newcastle?

Don’t look now, but Newcastle have won three of their last five games and reached mid-table. Steve Bruce‘s side currently sits 11th after wins over West Ham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United in recent weeks. Welcomeing relegation-threatened Southampton to St. James’ Park could very well spell another three points for the Magpies.

Serie A: Leaders Inter Milan open door for Juve by drawing Roma

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MILAN (AP) Italian league leader Inter Milan was held by Roma to 0-0 on Friday, giving second-placed Juventus a chance to return to the top.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

The home draw left Inter only two points ahead of Juventus, which can regain the lead when it visits third-placed Lazio on Saturday.The result also wasn’t good for Roma, which moved from fifth to fourth place in the standings but remained nine points off the lead after 15 matches.

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez had one of the game’s best chances when he got past a defender and entered the area in the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked at the last minute. He called for a handball by the defender but the referee let play continue.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Inter was coming off five straight wins in the league, with its last setback in all competitions last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last league loss was against Juventus in October, nine matches ago.

Roma was seeking its third straight league win. It had won five of its last six matches since last month.

Inter visits Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

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  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.