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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal interest in Navas; Drinkwater to leave?

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Unai Emery is reportedly in the market for more than just a centerback in January.

According to El Confidencial in Spain, Emery is interested in signing Real Madrid goalkeeper Kaylor Navas. The veteran Costa Rica international starred for Real Madrid in their three UEFA Champions League titles in as many years and yet, he’s found himself second-choice this season behind former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

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The report states that Real Madrid would let Navas leave for around $16 million, a bargain considering his experience and talent. The report then goes on to say Real Madrid would invest that money in signing Brahim Diaz, a reserve at Manchester City who hasn’t made it into Pep Guardiola‘s first team plans.

The idea of signing Navas for Arsenal is a bit of a head-scratcher. While he’s clearly a talented goalkeeper, it would be surprising for Emery to have moved on from two international-caliber goalkeepers in the span of six months. Petr Cech started the season but after a few errors, Bernd Leno, signed last June from Bayer Leverkusen took over. Leno has had some mistakes in the past few games, but most managers would back their goalkeepers to overcome the errors.

If the reports are true, Emery apparently believes he needs a fresh pair of hands in net.

Here are some more transfer stories around the Premier League:


Drinkwater’s future in his hands – Sarri

Maurizio Sarri all but said that Danny Drinkwater is free to leave Chelsea less than two years after joining the club (under Antonio Conte) for around $45 million.

Drinkwater hasn’t played a single minute in the Premier League this season, as Sarri explained, mainly because he doesn’t fit in the Italian manager’s system. When asked whether Drinkwater could leave for another club in January, Sarri said it was “up to the club” and up to Drinkwater to figure out.

“I think for him the problem is only my football,” Sarri said at a press conference. “He’s a very good midfielder but he is suitable for a midfield two because with a three he is not really a central midfielder or suitable for center right or center left.”

For a time, especially alongside N'Golo Kante, Drinkwater was part of one of the most successful midfields in Europe, as referenced by the stat below. Which ever club gets Drinkwater will still be getting a talented holding midfielder in his prime.


Liverpool, Bayern Munich after RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner

With Roberto Firmino sometimes injury prone and Divock Origi still coming back from injury and form issues of his own in the Premier League, it’s no secret that Liverpool could add a third striker.

According to German publication Bild, one of the strikers on Liverpool (and Bayern Munich’s radar) is RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. The young German has been a revelation the last three seasons in the Bundesliga, scoring 44 goals so far and earning his way into the German National Team. After Wednesday’s defeat at Bayern, Werner hinted that he would be interested in a move south to the German giants, although it’s reportedly a movethat the RB Leipzig brass will try to hold off on.

If Liverpool can beat Bayern to a German striker, it would be a huge feat. It would also allow Jurgen Klopp to spell Firmino from time to time to keep him fresh for upcoming UEFA Champions League matches.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

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So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

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Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.

Lampard: Chelsea first leg loss ‘quite sobering,’ ‘harsh lesson’

Frank Lampard
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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard isn’t sugarcoating his side’s 3-0 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

“Sometimes you have to be brutally honest about it,” he said in televised remarks after the loss. “It’s quite sobering.”

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Lampard admitted that Bayern was firing on all cylinders at Stamford Bridge, and proffered tepid support for the idea of an unlikely comeback in Germany next month.

“The level of team they showed that they are, hence why they challenge in the Bundesliga and the Champions League,” he said, via Football.London. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t do better against them. It’s a reality check. Don’t look at anyone else apart from yourself.”

“We should never say the door is closed because our fans would never accept that. I’m more concerned with the bigger picture here. There’s a lot to be done.”

Sure is.

Chelsea leads fifth-place Manchester United by three points in the top four race and has a four-point edge on sixth-place Spurs in the scenario that fifth is enough for Champions League football.

That’s important because the UCL path back to the tournament looks like a massive ask. And Lampard said the players need to use Tuesday’s blowout loss at home “as a positive effect” moving forward.

But he also put it pretty plainly during his post-match comments.

“It was a harsh lesson,” Lampard said. “This is Champions League football.”

Griezmann gives Barcelona first leg draw with Napoli (video)

Napoli v. Barcelona recap and video highlights
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Antoine Griezmann scored in the second half to earn Barcelona a 1-1 draw with Napoli in a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg at the San Paulo Stadium on Tuesday.

Dries Mertens scored a beautiful opener for Napoli, who heads to the Camp Nou for a March 18 second leg.

Arturo Vidal was sent off in the 89th minute for a second yellow card, and Sergio Busquets picked up a yellow which will cost him the second leg.

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Gennaro Gattuso’s plan was to limit Barcelona’s shots, and it worked well in the first half.

Mertens got his goal on one of only five shots in the half, the only two on target coming via Napoli.

How a tale can turn on a moment, though, as Nelson Semedo set up Griezmann’s second-half marker to give Barca a useful away goal.

Barca was much better in the second half but could not find a second away goal.

Here’s the goal of the day, and it belongs to Mertens.