Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

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  • Reds swept Foxes in PL last season
  • But Leicester knocked Liverpool out of League Cup
  • Reds lead all-time 46W-24D-39L

If the concept of a throw-in coach sounds a little odd, don’t worry: Jurgen Klopp was once like you.

And by once, we mean just a couple weeks ago.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

“To be honest, I’d never heard about a throw-in coach,” Klopp said. “How it is as a football manager, you know a lot about different things. I played the game, I’ve been managing since around about 18 years or so. But that doesn’t mean I’m a goalkeeper specialist and I’m obviously not a throw-in specialist.”

Klopp is getting Liverpool ready for a Saturday visit to Leicester City to kick off the Premier League weekend (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), and was asked about his new throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark.

Yes, for a third time, we’re talking about a throw-in coach. And for good reason: The man holds the world record for longest throw-in.

As for the match at the King Power Stadium, Liverpool will look to build on last season’s 3-2 win over the Foxes which stood as their first victory in the away fixture in five seasons.

Leicester lost its season opener at Manchester United, but has since won a pair of league matches and plowed Fleetwood Town in the League Cup (Christian Fuchs scored a stunner in the 4-0 win).

Liverpool is 3-0, but the Foxes represent their stiffest test of the young season.

What they’re saying

Klopp on his new throw-in coach“When I heard about Thomas, it was clear to me I wanted to meet him,” Klopp said. “When I met him, it was 100 per cent clear I wanted to employ him. Now he is here and we work on that from time to time. You cannot have enough specialists around you. I must always be the guy who makes the decisions on when we use all these specialists but you cannot have enough. We have the fitness, medical department, we have the nutrition, and now we have somebody for throw-ins. He’s a good guy, to be honest. He has already [made a difference].”

Kasper Schmeichel on signing a new contract with Leicester: “I’m very happy to be here for many more years. I’ve spent the majority of my career at Leicester now and had some amazing times here, so hopefully we’ll have some more. I’ve felt at home at this Club from day one, so I’d like to thank the fans for the support they’ve given me and also the owners who’ve played a huge part in my career. I want to bring more success to this Club as I’ve loved every minute and hopefully we can keep going in the right direction.”

Prediction

This could be a slip up for the Reds, albeit no bigger than Man City’s last weekend of play. We’re going to give two goals to both in a 2-2 draw.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.