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Reports: Loftus-Cheek wanted by multiple clubs for January loan

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According to a number of reports across Europe, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a wanted man and Chelsea could be persuaded to sell this winter.

Reports in England suggested Friday that Loftus-Cheek was wanted by West Ham and Bournemouth, both of which want a loan for the rest of the season at least, and are heavily interested in persuading Chelsea to add a permanent purchase option as well. Should Chelsea put Loftus Cheek up for sale, it would likely spur even more clubs into action, given his solid performances both for club and country over the past six months.

The 22-year-old has impressed new manager Maurizio Sarri with his hard working attitude, with the Blues boss mentioning many times that other young players would have bailed after receiving such little playing time under a new manager, but he’s been impressed by the England international who has worked in training to learn his new boss’s tactics. Still, there is no place for him in the Chelsea squad, unable to find time in a crowded midfield that includes N'Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Cesc Fabregas, and Ross Barkley.

As a result, Loftus-Cheek has earned just 221 Premier League minutes this season, along with 400 Europa League minutes, and he has cashed in with a whopping six goals in his 11 total appearances. He has impressed enough to earn appearances in each of Chelsea’s last three Premier League matches, although only one of those was via the starting lineup.

Still, he may ultimately choose that he needs to play regularly, and there could be opportunities outside of England as well. According to Italian publication Tuttosport, AC Milan is interested as well. Milan midfielder Lucas Biglia is injured and on-loan Blues yoiungster Tiemoue Bakayoko has not performed up to standards and with Milan crashing out of the Europa League in the group stage. While Loftus-Cheek wouldn’t exactly be a direct replacement for those more defensive-minded midfielders, it would generally add depth to Milan’s depleted midfield.

It will be a difficult decision for both parties, but should either side believe moving on is the best option, there will clearly be no shortage of suitors.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.

Men In Blazers Podcast: De Gea heroics; Liverpool, Man City wins

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Rog and Davo applaud David De Gea‘s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Plus, wins for Liverpool and City in the title race.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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