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Top 5 players to watch ahead of Deadline Day

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It appears that unlike recent summer transfer windows we will see plenty of monster deals done in the final days of the window.

[ MORE: Bale to Man United?

Deadline Day should be a fun one. Bring it on.

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Below is a look at the top five Premier League players who could well be on the move on or before Thursday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline with the future of several of the PL’s biggest stars shrouded in uncertainty.


Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – To Barcelona

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With Liverpool bidding a club-record $71 million for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, it seems like there’s some movement in this situation. Why would a club already loaded with attacking talents (Mane, Salah, Firmino, Sturridge, Lallana et al.) try to add another attacking midfielder? Coutinho, 25, is said to be “desperate” to make the move to Barcelona happen but the Catalan club have had several bids turned down, the last for over $190 million. Liverpool insist he is not for sale but if Barcelona come in with one more massive bid, does the Brazilian playmaker go?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) – To Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City

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Part of the “I’ve got one year left on my contract” brigade at Arsenal, the Ox has turned down a new deal with the Gunners and both Chelsea and Liverpool are said to be seriously sniffing around his situation. The versatile England international just turned 24 and has shone in a wing-back role for Arsenal over the past 6-8 months. Oxlade-Chamberlain can get UEFA Champions League action at both Liverpool and Chelsea, while Manchester City are said to be long-time admirers too. with the situations regarding Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and others just as unclear about Oxalde-Chamberlain’s future at Arsenal, this will be intriguing to see what decision Arsenal make. Do they cash in on the Ox or risk losing him for nothing? Arsenal is said to want $45 million for him and Chelsea have reportedly agreed a fee.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) – To Everton, Atletico Madrid

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The saga of the summer is set for an interesting finale. Diego Costa, 28, is still hanging out in Brazil and refusing to return to Chelsea until they sell him to Atletico Madrid. With the Spanish outfit unable to register new players until January 2018, that presents a signficannt spanner in the works of any deal. Chelsea is said to want over $60 million for Costa but Atleti know he is proving difficult and their offer is said to be way short of that. Everton have emerged as contenders to sign Costa, perhaps on loan until January or maybe even permanently with Ronald Koeman stating he needs a new striker to complete his big-money overhaul. The thought of Costa playing in front of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson will have fans of the Toffees salivating.

Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton) – To Chelsea, Liverpool

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Southampton insist their team captain Virgil van Dijk is not for sale despite the Dutchman training with the reserves for most of preseason and also handing in a very public transfer request. Van Dijk, 26, saw a move to Liverpool completely evaporate early in the window after the Reds apologized publicly for allegedly reaching out directly to the player. Despite Jurgen Klopp‘s side saying they have “ended their pursuit” in the player, it appears the Reds may make a late move for the towering center back. Southampton continue to state VVD isn’t for sale but if Liverpool or Chelsea offered over $80 million for the elegant defender, surely it would make them reconsider. Saints have handled life without VVD very well for the past eight months since he was injured but there’s no doubt he would make whatever team he is playing for better. If van Dijk is still a Southampton player on Sept. 1 then he will face the prospect of either making up and playing for Saints at least until January, or sitting out the opening half of the season in a World Cup year. Neither scenario is ideal.

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – To Manchester City

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The Chilean star returned for Arsenal at Liverpool on Sunday but cut a forlorn figure as the Gunners were hammered 4-0. With less than 12 months on his contract remaining (Arsenal’s contract strategy boggles the mind) Sanchez holds most of the aces in negotiations. Arsene Wenger has repeated multiple times that he’s hopeful Sanchez will stay, but given another summer of unrest and a poor start to the season Sanchez must be hoping to get out of the Emirates Stadium as quickly as possible. Sanchez, 28, has been chased by Manchester City and linking up with the man who took him to Barcelona, Pep Guardiola makes sense. Do City need another attacking player? Probably not. But when has that ever stopped them in the past? Arsenal selling to a direct PL rival seems unlikely but if a bid of over $70 million comes in for Sanchez between now and Thursday it would make a lot of sense to sell him and move on from this sorry saga.

Bonus: Gareth Bale‘s situation at Real Madrid could be an intriguing one to follow with Manchester United said to have offered over $118 million for the Welshman, while Thomas Lemar could be closing in on a move to Liverpool with the Arsenal target the subject of a $71 million bid from Liverpool.

MLS preview: TFC, Seattle running out of time; Rooney vs. ATL

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Week 21 of the 2018 MLS season features 10 games on Saturday (nine) and Sunday (one). Here’s a few key storylines to keep an eye on…

[ MORE: Miami City Commission sends Beckham stadium to Nov. ballot ]

Jozy’s back, but is it too late?

It’s been nearly three months since Jozy Altidore last appeared for Toronto FC, and not much has changed with regard to the Reds’ place in the standings: they at south of the playoff line then (after going all-in on the CONCACAF Champions League), and they remain there ahead of Saturday’s trip to Chicago. Greg Vanney’s defending champions currently sit 11 points back of sixth place with 15 games left to play.

As for Altidore, he was hugely important in TFC’s run to the CCL final, but it would be a massive oversimplification to say his absence has been the only — or main, even — cause for struggles this season. In fact, it’s been injuries up and down the entire squad (every center back on the roster, multiple midfielders and playmakers, as well as Altidore). Finally, after months of walking wounded, nearly everyone is back and available for selection. TFC’s charge up the stands begins, presumably, soon.

Rooney makes DCU better, but by how much?

As I opined following his D.C. United debut last weekend, Wayne Rooney was quite good during the opening 32 minutes of his MLS career. That was against the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the slowest playing teams in the entire league, though. On Saturday, Rooney and Co., will come up against something not so dissimilar to European quality and competition in Atlanta United.

There’s the level on competition to consider as Rooney continues on in his MLS journey, but also this: against Vancouver, there was very little flash or attempt at end product from Rooney, which was fine considering he quickly and smartly facilitated play and opened the field up for others to make and score the goals. The questions are: for how long is he happy to be a simple cog in the machine, and are United getting their money’s worth if that’s Rooney’s regular contribution?

What about Seattle?

Just like Toronto, the Seattle Sounders currently find themselves 11 points back of sixth place (though they do have one more game still to play). Just like Toronto, injuries have completely ruined the Sounders’ 2018 season. Just like Toronto, they have been to back-to-back MLS Cups, and won one. Just like Toronto, they can’t really miss the playoffs, can they?

Now, though, Raul Ruidiaz has been added for some much-needed firepower up top (the Peruvian is a back-to-back Golden Boot winner in Liga MX), Gustav Svensson is back from the World Cup, and Nicolas Lodeiro has shown signs of coming out of his slumber in recent weeks. Just like Toronto, Brian Schmetzer’s men have no choice but to begin their playoff chase on Saturday, when Vancouver comes to town.

Full weekend schedule

Atlanta United vs. D.C. United — 3:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 4 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC — 7 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. LA Galaxy — 7 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Orlando City SC — 7:30 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas — 9 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids — 10 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. Montreal Impact — 11 p.m. ET
Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles FC — 7 p.m. ET (Sunday)

Leicester sign Ward from Liverpool; Boufal out on loan

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LONDON (AP) — Leicester signed Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward from Liverpool on a four-year contract on Friday.

Ward dropped in the pecking order at Anfield following the arrival of Brazil goalie Alisson.

Leicester’s fourth signing of the offseason will offer competition to Kasper Schmeichel and Eldin Jakupovic.

Ward will join the team on Monday for a training camp in Austria.

“I’ve come here to develop my allround game and hopefully help deliver some more success,” he said.


Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal was sent to Spanish club Celta Vigo on a season-long loan.

Boufal came to Southampton in 2016 from Lille, and made 59 appearances, scoring four times.

The Moroccan fell out of favor with manager Mark Hughes at the end of last season.

Neymar says he’s staying at PSG; rumors “invented by the press”

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Neymar insists he is going nowhere this summer, that he’ll spend (at least) one more season at Paris Saint-Germain, and he intends to bring another handful of trophies back to the French capital in doing so.

[ MORE: PSG in “advanced negotiations” for N’Golo Kante, but must sell first ]

Speaking during a press conference on Friday, his first media availability session since Brazil were eliminated in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals, the 26-year-old superstar went so far as to say that reports linking him with a move to other European mega-clubs (most notably, Real Madrid) were “invented by the press” — quotes from ESPN:

“Yes, I will stay in Paris. I have a contract with PSG. The speculation? The majority of it is invented by the press.

“I have a contract and people know the objective, the reason why I went to PSG. I want to win with this club and I hope this season will be wonderful.”

While it seems a no-brainer that PSG would want Neymar to stay, there’s unquestionably a case to be made that selling him would give them the financial flexibility needed to address needs elsewhere in the squad. N'Golo Kante, for instance, is reportedly transfer target no. 1 at the Parc des Princes, but sales will have to be made before a fee of that size can be paid, due to financial regulations.

Report: PSG in “advanced negotiations” for Kante, but must sell first

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N'Golo Kante might just be the best midfielder in the world, and he might just be leaving Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in the coming days or weeks, as French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that the defending Ligue 1 champions are in “advanced negotiations” over a mega-bucks contract with the World Cup winner.

[ MORE: Neymar says he’s staying at PSG; rumors “invented by the press” ]

The report goes so far as to say that a “provisional contract” has already been agreed. “Provisional,” in this instance, means there has likely been little — if any — contact between the two clubs thus far.

One major sticking point remains: following last summer’s outlandish spending spree, in which they shelled out nearly $500 million to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are in serious danger of failing to comply with financial regulations set forth by UEFA and could/would be banned from European competition should they fail to achieve compliance.

The likes of Angel Di Maria, Goncalo Guedes, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese Rodriguez and Alphonse Areola have had their names floated as possible departures to recoup the necessary funds before paying another fee of (presumably) over $100 million.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

After helping the Blues to the Premier League title two seasons ago (and doing the same with Leicester City three campaigns gone by), Kante was powerless in saving Chelsea from themselves in 2017-18. They finished fifth in the PL and failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League.

Given his age — 27 — it’s wholly understandable that Kante would prioritize playing in club soccer’s top competition (while also making even more money) every season going forward. Throw in the fact that uncertainty is the only certainty at Stamford Bridge these days, and trading west London for Paris — where Kante was born — starts to sounds pretty good, pretty quickly.

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