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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir omitted at Lyon, Godin to Inter

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With a few teams already securing January moves, there’s plenty more talk going around. The title race in the Premier League is back on, with the battle for Champions League places and the relegation fight also quite close.

So, as teams look to fill holes big and small, we take a look at the biggest transfer gossip of the day.

With Liverpool now looking over its shoulder at a closing Manchester City, a familiar name has surfaced. Nabil Fekir was a summer Liverpool target, with news of the Reds chase quite public. He ultimately stayed at the French club, but with his contract expiring in 2020, the onus is on Lyon to sell before the club loses even more leverage.

Rumors have resurfaced this winter as Fekir was omitted from the Lyon squad to take on a fifth-tier club in the Coupe de France. It’s not anything terribly out of the ordinary, as Fekir’s minutes have been limited this season with the occasional rest, so it’s not too odd to see him held out of a matchup against a lower-tier club. Still, that has energized new rumors, as the belief is Lyon will see Fekir’s value drop should they wait to sell in the summer, and they could find a desperate buyer to drive up the price should they sell now.

Fekir has been solid this season, with four goals and two assists in 12 Ligue 1 appearances, plus three goals and two assists in five Champions League matches. Lyon sits third in a brutally tight battle for Champions League places in the Ligue 1 table, so losing Fekir could be tough to stomach, but holding onto him any longer could devalue his asking price considerably.


Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked countless times to Brazilian right-back Emerson, and those rumors have lit back up this winter, with his club Atletico Minero reportedly in some financial trouble, according to Brazilian publication UOL. Selling the 19-year-old could ease those burdens, and thus, January would be the perfect time to get talent-starved teams to bite. In addition, the Brazilian Serie A wrapped up its season on December 1, so the offseason could be the right time to let him leave. The club is reportedly looking to raise anywhere between $20 million and $30 million in player sales, and reports back in November mention Emerson would cost around $10 million.

According to a number of reports across the English tabloids, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Barcelona are the clubs most interested in his services. The Gunners especially are in need of full-backs, with Hector Bellerin injured and Stephan Lichtsteiner in poor form and at 34 years old.

Emerson made 23 league appearances for his club last season, scoring one goal and assisting another. Of those 23 appearances, 22 of them were starts, and he reached the full 90 minutes in all but one.


With lots of reports surrounding Aaron Ramsey‘s possible free transfer to Juventus, another marquee free transfer has flown under the radar. Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin is out of contract this summer, and at 32 years old, Atletico is expected to let him leave after eight decorated years with the club.

According to respected Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Godin has already reached an agreement with his next club, signing a two-year deal with Inter Milan with an option for a third year. Inter’s defensive record is stellar this season, with 14 goals conceded in 19 matches, second only to table-toppers Juventus. Still, it would be hard to pass up a defender of Godin’s pedigree, as he would be a positive influence on emerging 23-year-old Milan Skriniar who has already racked up 2,000 minutes this season.

Di Marzio reports that the deal still needs to be “finalized” but that it is heading in that direction. It would allow Godin to link up with former teammate Miranda, with whom Godin won the La Liga title in 2014.


According to Belgian publication HLN, West Ham, Newcastle and Cardiff City are all interested in 22-year-old Brazilian striker Wesley, who currently plays at Belgian side Club Brugge.

Wesley has scored seven goals and assisted six others among 19 appearances in Jupiler Pro League play, helping Club Brugge to second in the league through 21 matches. The report states Cardiff has already made an official bid for him but it was turned down. An amount was not given.

The report states the club would rather sell in the summer than let him go in the middle of the season, but that the situation is fluid and the club does have a price that would force its hand. Both Cardiff and Newcastle have struggled to create goals this season, and Wesley’s ability to both score and create chances.

Judge rules players not guilty in match-fixing case in Spain

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MADRID — The 36 players on trial in Spain’s most high-profile match-fixing case were cleared of wrongdoing on Monday.

A Spanish judge issued the “not guilty” verdict, saying there was not enough evidence to convict the players and others on trial – including former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre.

More than 40 people were accused of match-fixing involving the Spanish league game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

The judge convicted two former Zaragoza officials of fraud – then-president Agapito Iglesias and club director Javier Porquera. They were given a one-year, three-month prison sentence, although they were not likely to face jail time because sentences of less than two years for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Those accused were facing two years in prison and a six-year soccer ban.

Among the players on trial were Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Aguirre was Zaragoza’s coach at the time. He was among those who appeared in court to testify.

The investigation began after Spanish league president Javier Tebas denounced the alleged match-fixing, saying a former player told him a result had been fixed.

Prosecutors said there was evidence 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Zaragoza’s squad and later transferred to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season. Zaragoza won 2-1 to avoid relegation. Deportivo La Coruna was demoted as a result.

Former Zaragoza officials said the money was paid to motivate players, not fix the result of the game.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the match-fixing and there was evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

The judge said in his ruling “there were was no evidence the money was given to Levante players to lose the match.”

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

Arsenal overruns West Ham with 3 second half goals

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Who saw that coming?

With three goals in a nine-minute span in the second half, Arsenal overcame a one-goal halftime deficit to comfortably beat West Ham, 3-1, on Monday night at the Olympic Stadium. It was a complete reversal after a second half where Arsenal didn’t attempt a single shot on target in the first half and were second-best in winning duals and second balls.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But it was the Arsenal stars who helped the club when it was effectively on its knee, facing a tenth-straight match without a win. Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and youngster Gabriel Martinelli secured all three points for Arsenal.

On the other side, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini is in a whole host of trouble. West Ham sits just one point above the relegation zone after 16 league matches, and Pellegrini was expected to take the Hammers to the next level.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal stars finally step up: With Arsenal on the verge of another demoralizing defeat, the club’s expensive strike force helped turn the tide in the second half. Martinelli, Aubameyang, and Pepe all played a huge role, and their goals, arguably against the run of play, were more than enough to inject some excitement into the club.

2. No Luiz, No Problem: Arsenal may have found its new starting centerback combination. After multiple error-prone performances with Sokratis playing alongside David Luiz, Arsenal boss Freddy Ljunberg went with Calum Chambers to partner Sokratis. The end result was a much more organized backline, and fewer mistakes, leading to fewer allowed goals.

3. Pellegrini on the hot seat: Pellegrini will have a nervous few days ahead of him. Despite a rare win over Chelsea last week, West Ham has now dropped successive defeats, first to Wolves and now Arsenal, leaving West Ham on the edge of relegation. Could Pellegrini last until January?

Man of the Match: Arsenal’s defense deserves credit, but goals win games, so Man of the Match has to go to Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international absolutely earned his massive transfer fee on Monday, scoring a beautiful curler and then setting up Aubameyang with a chip into the box.


In the run up to kickoff, and even halftime, Arsenal had plenty of obstacles to overcome.

Right back Hector Bellerin was forced out of the starting lineup during pregame warmups, and left back Kieran Tierney couldn’t finish the match, having to be substituted midway through the first half.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Arsenal interim coach Freddie Ljungberg also made some big lineup decisions. Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz were dropped, with Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli starting up top and Calum Chambers moving inside to centerback. It took 60 minutes, but those moves paid dividends in the end.

However, before then, West Ham controlled the first half, even with less of the ball. The Hammers showed more desire and determination than Arsenal, winning many second balls, and it led to the opening goal. A corner kick in the 38th minute pinballed in and out of the box, with Arsenal twice failing to clear it. Eventually, the ball fell to Pablo Fornals, who chipped a ball into the middle of the box. West Ham centerback Angelo Ogbonna, still up in the box after the corner kick, dashed onto it and though it went off his shoulder, deflected off an Arsenal defender and in for a goal. VAR checked it, as it does with every goal, but the decision stood, and it was well deserved.

West Ham even looked more likely to score a second late in the first half and then early in the second half, as Arsenal couldn’t string many passes together in their own third or the final third.

In the 60th minute, it was like a flip was switched. Suddenly, West Ham provided no pressure on Arsenal’s backline when it had the ball, allowing Arsenal to easily break the lines. After two passes getting through a half-dozen defenders, the ball ended up on the left wing with Aubameyang. Aubameyang crosses into the center and with a first-time finish, suddenly Martinelli put Arsenal level at 1-1.

In the 66th minute, again Arsenal broke through West Ham’s midfield quite easily. Dribbling forward, Mesut Ozil passed into the middle to Aubameyang, who fed Pepe wide. Pepe, who was one-on-one with Aaron Cresswell, cut inside and curled home a beauty to make it 2-1, Arsenal.

Three minutes later, Aubameyang and Pepe teamed up again. Pepe cut inside, but instead of shooting, he slyly chipped a ball into the box. Aubameyang waited for it and as he was inside, scissor kicked the ball in to make it 3-1.

With West Ham shellshocked, Arsenal held on late for a huge win, moving the club back into the top half of the Premier League table.

This story will be updated.

At the half: West Ham lead struggling Arsenal

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They say in derbies that form goes out the window, but it didn’t seem that apparent for Arsenal on Monday evening.

West Ham United is 45 minutes away from a second major win in three Premier League games as the Hammers hold a 1-0 halftime lead over Arsenal. Angelo Ogbonna’s headed goal off a Pablo Fornals cross is the difference so far.

After two straight poor performances for Arsenal, manager Freddie Ljungberg must have hoped for a better reaction in a London derby. Instead, Arsenal has been slow in passing, slow to second balls and not as determined as West Ham to win. Every possession gained is giving West Ham confidence, which led to the goal. The goal came after a couple of pinball rebounds following a corner kick, but the Hammers’ determination to score helped them go in front.

To make matters worse for Arsenal, Kieran Tierney suffered another injury, forcing him off the field in the first half and compelling Ljunberg to bring on Sead Kolasinac, despite him being short on fitness too.

Arsenal has a massive 45 minutes ahead. Should West Ham win, it would go level with Arsenal. If the Gunners lose, it’s their 10th straight match in all competitions without a win and it drops them into the bottom half of the league table.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Arsenal will be searching for their first win since firing Unai Emery as manager when they visit West Ham United, who could use a win in the worst possibly way themselves, at the London Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Gunners have drawn one — coming back from a goal down, twice, against Norwich City — and lost at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday. It’s hardly been an ideal start to life under interim boss Freddie Ljungberg. As a result, they enter Monday’s game sitting 11th in the Premier League table.

As for the Hammers, Manuel Pellegrini is beginning to feel the pressure after winning just one of his side’s last nine games (1W-2D-6L). Following that exceedingly poor run of results, West Ham sit 16th in the PL table, just one point clear of the relegation zone.

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