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Transfer rumor roundup: Coutinho out, Mahrez in; Hart on the move

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A roundup of all the day’s biggest transfer rumors involving clubs in the Premier League, and elsewhere…

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

With Liverpool set to demand $220 million for Coutinho — and Barcelona apparently only just short of willing to pay it — the rumor mill has moved a step further in the Brazilian’s six-month-long transfer sage, now focusing on which players Liverpool will spend all that money to replace Coutinho and further improve the squad.

One could surmise that the Reds’ $100-million deal for Virgil Van Dijk was a proactive piece of business with a massive windfall of cash expected to arrive either in the next three weeks or in six months’ time. If so, that leaves just one critically important need in the Liverpool squad: the attacker to replace Coutinho. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, it’ll be Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez, whose transfer fee could also approach nine figures. Mahrez spent most of the summer trying to engineer a move away from the King Power Stadium, but to no avail. Suffice to say, he’d be receptive to the idea.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man United advance thanks to late winners ]

Joe Hart moved away from Manchester City because Pep Guardiola was never going to play him, and now it appears the former/perhaps-still-current England no. 1 will have to leave West Ham United, where he’s currently on loan, because David Moyes doesn’t appear interested in playing him either. According to the Daily Mirror, the three aforementioned parties could all agree to terminate his current loan in order to facilitate a move — whether temporary or permanent is unknown — to Newcastle United, where Rafa Benitez attempted to sign Hart in the summer before losing out to West Ham.

[ MORE: Mourinho hits back in ongoing feud with Conte ]

According to Sky Sports, Mousa Dembele could leave Wembley Stadium/the new White Hart Lane for a spell at the San Siro — for either AC Milan or Inter Milan. Both of the Milan giants still-somewhat-big-sides are reportedly interested in the 30-year-old Tottenham Hotspur midfielder who has spent a worrying portion of the last two seasons dealing with nagging foot injuries which have turned into long-term absences. Tottenham would likely prefer to wait until the summer to move Dembele on, unless an obvious replacement were to unexpectedly become available and make him surplus to requirements.

[ MORE: FA investigating potential racial incident between Firmino, Holgate ]

Elsewhere, Liverpool have Emre Can‘s contract situation hanging over their heads, as they face losing the 23-year-old German midfielder on a free transfer this summer. According to the Guardian, Juventus have already offered Can a five-year contract which would pay him $115,000 per week, plus a “sizable signing-on fee.” Liverpool paid just $13 million to sign Can in 2014, thus it wouldn’t be the biggest loss on their original investment, though his value is easily twice — if not three times — that in the current transfer climate.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.