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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Pogba to Juventus, Rebic to Manchester United

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With the World Cup over, the transfer season is now in full swing. Players have returned from Russia, some having improved their stock mightily. While the World Cup participants will likely receive an extended vacation from clubs to spend time with families and rest their bodies a bit, transfer season never rests.

According to Italian publication Tuttosport, World Cup champion Paul Pogba may have some leverage this summer and could use that to his advantage. The world could see how effective he was in a box-to-box midfield role under French manager Didier Deschamps with slightly more freedom than he saw under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United this past season where many felt he has room to grow.

The report says that Pogba might use the World Cup performances to leverage his way out of Manchester United and back to Juventus where Cristiano Ronaldo has just signed for a mega-transfer. The report states that Pogba is intrigued to join his old club and be a part of Ronaldo’s tenure in Turin. With Ronaldo at 33 years old, he might not have long at Juventus, and Pogba wishes to take advantage.

Tuttosport, which is based in Turin, says that Pogba retains at the least a professional relationship with all his former teammates, and would welcome a move back to Italy. His current Manchester United contract runs out in 2021, meaning he has three full seasons left on his current deal.


Whether Pogba stays or goes, Manchester United will be looking to improve its squad, with a World Cup runner-up in its sights. There have been rumors of a move for both Croatian wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic, but the latter seems to make more sense. Rebic is just 24 years old, and would likely be the cheaper of the two coming from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt. At the World Cup, the Croatian displayed strength, technical ability, and an innate sense for finding space.

Rebic can play on either wing, playing on the left with his club while deployed on the right with the national team during this summer’s tournament. He would fit in nicely to Manchester United’s squad, which is light on wide attacking players outside of Alexis Sanchez. Rebic would be a perfect foil for Sanchez, preferring to stick to the touchline while Sanchez cuts inside, and enjoying allowing the full-back to overlap.

Reports around England tag Rebic with a $57 million fee, which is just slightly under what Perisic might command from Inter.


In London, there are heavy rumors swirling that Real Madrid will move to make Eden Hazard their replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. Hazard’s national team manager spoke out on the potential move, following Belgium’s third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.

“I believe now is maybe the right time for him to move,” Martinez told Cadena Ser radio in Spain. “With Belgium he displayed maturity and leadership to add to his outstanding talent, I believe he can play for any side. There is not one team in the world he would not fit in and that means he will be the subject of offers from elsewhere.”

“I am sure Chelsea have received a lot of interest in Eden because he is one of the select group of players whose talent is based on individual play.”

Following the completion of Belgium’s win over England in the third-place match, Hazard was quoted as saying it “might be time for something new.” He has been with Chelsea since moving from Lille in the summer of 2012. At Stamford Bridge, Hazard has blossomed into one of the world’s best one-on-one attackers.


According to Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol, Everton is in “advanced talks” with Bordeaux over Brazilian winger Malcom. The report states that Everton is closing in on a $39 million deal for the 21-year-old and Everton’s team will meat with the French club’s representatives on Thursday to hammer out the final version of the transfer.

The potential signing would be a fabulous move, given that Malcom had been linked with not just Inter Milan but other Premier League club Fulham. Reports say Inter had been looking for a loan with an option to buy, whereas Everton was ready to splash the cash now, which intrigued Bordeaux the most.

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.

Gerrard reacts to Rangers’ Old Firm heartbreak in final

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Steven Gerrard lined his Rangers side up for success, but fate was cruel to the Liverpool legend.

Rangers lost the League Cup Final to their Old Firm rivals on Sunday despite out-shooting the Bhoys by a 16-5 margin, winning a penalty, and playing almost a half-hour up a man.

[ RECAP: Rangers 0-1 Celtic ]

“To a man we were very good … by much the better side,” Gerrard said. “But unfortunately that’s not what gets you a trophy.”

But Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster stopped Alfredo Morelos’ penalty, three minutes after goal scorer Christopher Jullien was offside on the lone goal of the game.

Scotland doesn’t yet use VAR, and Gerrard doesn’t love VAR but he likes it more than he likes Scottish officials.

“There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR,” he said, via the BBC. “I’d be a liar if I said I was 100% in favour of it, but the one thing I do know is that officials up here need support.”

Now he has the task of getting his men to rebound ahead of its biggest non-derby in ages, as Rangers need at least a draw against Young Boys at home on Thursday to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds

“It’s a bit raw right now… It’s up to me to pick the players up. One thing I will say is I’ll stay with these players on the evidence of today because they gave me absolutely everything. We might have to suffer a bit short-term. I need to pick them up a bit physically and mentally for Thursday which is huge but our day will come on the evidence of today.”

Gerrard has done a very good job with Rangers, who are two points back of Celtic in a two-horse race for the Scottish top flight title. Celtic has won eight-straight titles to improve their total to 50, four less than the Rangers.