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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Coutinho to Barcelona, Perisic latest

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There’s just 13 days until the start of the Premier League season, and teams are gearing up to bolster their squads through last minute deals. While the players will have little time to become acclimated to their new homes, transfers in these final days could prove to be vital nonetheless.

Barcelona has been reportedly pursuing Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, but Liverpool has repeatedly turned down their advances, claiming Coutinho is not for sale at any price. Nevertheless, the rumors persist, as they always do. According to a number of reports over the past few days, Barcelona could try to tempt the Reds with the addition of midfielder Ivan Rakitic to the deal, but these swap suggestions rarely come to fruition.

The most recent update came from Barcelona president  Josep Bartomeu, but he didn’t say much. Talking to Spanish publication Sport, Bartomeu said, “He’s a Liverpool player and I have a lot of respect for Liverpool, which we do in the summer is to be very discreet about everything, so we can not confirm or deny anything.”


Inter attacker Ivan Perisic has been heavily linked to Manchester United in recent days, but the Italian club has hardened its stance. Perisic started and scored the winner in Inter’s 2-1 preseason victory over Chelsea in the International Champions Cup, helping squelch the rumors.

Going even further were the words of Inter boss Luciano Spaletti, who claimed, “There has been no more significant contact [from outside clubs] in the last few weeks [regarding Perisic],” he told Internazionale’s official website. “So for me the conversation is over. The more days that go by, the more difficult it becomes for us to replace him and therefore I would strongly oppose his departure.”


Roma has been linked to Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez as the Italian side looks to ease the loss of Mohamed Salah. Just yesterday, rumors of a new bid were abound. But today, those were squashed by the supposed buyers.

“In the case of Mahrez it’s become public knowledge, with others it hasn’t. We’ve made two offers, the second is fair and then we stopped,” said Roma sporting director Monchi. “We’re not just working on one name. It’s logical, we have different options.”


Similar to the Mahrez news is that of a rumored Premier League addition in Naby Keita. Liverpool has been after the RB Leipzig midfielder for some time, but with the German club reluctant to sell at a reasonable price, the Reds have been successfully warded off.

According to a report by ESPNFC, Liverpool will retain interest in the player but has backed off for this summer. According to the report, Keita’s contract has a release clause of $63 million, but it does not come into fruition until next summer. However, there is risk that waiting until Keita plays a season in the Champions League could mean increased competition for his signature next summer, should he perform well.

The report says that Liverpool had a pair of bids rejected by the German club, the second of which was well above next summer’s release clause, meaning RB Leipzig is willing to forego significant amounts of money to hold onto the 22-year-old.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

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Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

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In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

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Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.