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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Balde Diao to Chelsea, Mahrez to stay

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With Romelu Lukaku almost certainly headed to Manchester United, the transfer slate on Saturday is somewhat light. Teams are reacting to the big news of the morning and planning accordingly, with many Premier League clubs now looking to reevaluate the striker market after a big domino falls.

The biggest rumors on Saturday seem to be who won’t be moving instead of who will.

According to The Independent, Tottenham will not even consider offers for midfielder Eric Dier, who has been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid in the past.

Jose Mourinho is looking for a defensive midfielder, and rumors seem to be pointing him in the direction of Nemanja Matic, but Dier’s name has come up. The report states Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is not willing to listen to offers for the 23-year-old. Levy has been successful in taking a hard-line stance in the past, both in his valuation of players such as Gareth Bale, or in his decision not to sell at any price such as Harry Kane or Moussa Dembele.


Another player who may not be moving is Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. According to multiple reports, with The Mirror first on the story, Arsenal has decided to move on from its interest in Mahrez.

The Gunners have long been linked with the Algerian ever since he won PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s title run. Now, however, with their sights reportedly set on Monaco’s young winger Thomas Lemar, they have apparently put Mahrez on the back burner.

Reportedly, the reason for their lessening of interest is Leicester’s hard-line stance on their valuation of Mahrez, which is apparently above $64 million. This, coupled with the regression Mahrez saw last season has seen Arsenal decide against pursuing a move.

Mahrez told reporters in May that he wishes to leave the Foxes, and that has caused clubs to come calling, but also served to dampen his value on the transfer market with teams knowing Leicester is looking to sell. Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare told Sky Sports today that no bids have been submitted just yet for the 26-year-old.


With Romelu Lukaku slipping from Chelsea’s grasp, there will be plenty of rumors on who the Blues will chase now for their next striker. It’s still possible that Diego Costa could stay and man the front line, but with Antonio Conte apparently preferring other options, expect to see plenty of names crop up over the next month.

Many popular choices include Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti, but both players will cost a hefty sum, and the Blues are likely to see that as a last resort. Instead, they could look to cheaper options, with Lazio’s Keita Balde Diao reportedly on the list.

According to Italian TV station Mediaset Premium, Diao is a possibility for the Blues with other clubs in Italy not so keen. AC Milan had a $23 million bid accepted back in early June according to Diao’s agent, but the player turned it down hoping for a move to Juventus. When that didn’t materialize, his situation was back to the drawing board.

Diao’s contract expires next summer, and he does not look likely to sign a new deal at Lazio.


One player who will be tough to keep in one place is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The Reds lightning rod is a stellar player, and is a popular transfer rumor subject every summer for that reason.

According to French paper L’Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain is hoping to bring in Coutinho should they fail to pry Kylian Mbappe free of Monaco. PSG has been heavily linked with Mbappe, with the financial means to make it happen, but they may have to pay a premium to convince Monaco to sell its best player to a direct league rival.

Thus, should the Mbappe project fail, Coutinho is reportedly an option. Liverpool reportedly isn’t opposed to a sale, but it would cost PSG around $98 million, according to the report. The Reds also need to have a replacement lined up, and replacing the Brazilian playmaker is no easy task.

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

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  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.