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Transfer rumors: Morata out, Icardi in at Chelsea; Perisic to Man United

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Chelsea’s search for a new striker continues, as Alvaro Morata’s time at Stamford Bridge appears to be almost up.

A report from ESPN says that Morata’s agent, who flew to London today, will discuss the future of the Spanish striker with Chelsea’s hierarchy as Sevilla want to sign him on loan. Another report from Cope states that Atletico Madrid have also entered the race to sign Morata.

It is believed the deal for the 26-year-old would initially be a loan move for the rest of the season, with an option to buy.

Per the report Sevilla are extremely keen on signing Morata to boost their chances of a top four finish in La Liga, and it is quite clear that Maurizio Sarri isn’t a fan of the former Real Madrid and Juventus star as he’s played Eden Hazard up top as the false nine in recent matches. The report claims that Morata is also willing to take a pay cut to join Sevilla.

Morata’s time at Chelsea has been riddled with small injuries and a lack of confidence and form, with the Spanish international scoring 24 goals in 72 appearances in all competitions since arriving from Real Madrid for a fee of up to $89 million in the summer of 2017.

Who could replace Morata? Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson is high on their list but he would cost over $70 million to buy in January, and Sarri is said to favor bringing in Gonzalo Higuain but he is embroiled in a complex deal between Juventus and AC Milan.

Mauro Icardi is said to be their top target but Inter Milan’s Argentine striker would not come cheap.

But his agent and wife, Wanda Nara, has said the following after stating that Icardi signing a new deal at Inter is a “very long way off” as things stand, as he has just just over two years left on his current contract.

“We have a very good relationship with the two biggest clubs in Spain, who are very interested in Mauro. As well as one in France and one in England.”

Intriguing.

The other option for Chelsea is bringing in veteran Higuain on loan, which is something we talked about at Pro Soccer Talk yesterday. Higuain would be the cheapest option and Sarri trusts him from their time working together at Napoli in the past. It appears that both Morata and Olivier Giroud are surplus to requirements for the rest of the season at Chelsea.


In non-Chelsea striker related news, Manchester United have once again been linked with a move for Ivan Perisic.

The Croatian winger has been linked with a move United time and time again over the past 12 months, and the 29-year-old was said to be a transfer target of Jose Mourinho.

According to Tuttosport in Italy, Inter Milan is said to be willing to part with Perisic in January so that they can get the funds together to sign Luka Modric from Real Madrid in the summer. The 33-year-old reigning World Player of the Year has been long linked with a move to Italy’s Serie A.

Do United need Perisic? Probably not anymore.

Anthony Martial is back in the picture, so too is Alexis Sanchez as they can help Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford support Romelu Lukaku from wide areas. The last thing United’s caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs is a new winger, as his creaking defense is in dire need of reinforcements. This move for Perisic, despite him being a fine player, would not make any sense.

Then again, let me know when the transfer window has made much sense in recent years…

Berhalter trims USMNT squad to 23 ahead of friendlies

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Four players were sent back to their Major League Soccer clubs as U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter settled on a 23-man squad ahead of a pair of friendlies.

Berhalter and U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday evening that Toronto FC’s Alex Bono, LAFC’s Tyler Miller, Real Salt Lake’s Justin Glad and the Colorado Rapids’ Kellyn Acosta were all released back to their clubs as preseason training gets underway for all MLS clubs. FC Cincinnati’s Greg Garza departed the USMNT January camp a week ago with a quadriceps injury.

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“We’ve had a great two weeks in Chula Vista focusing on building team culture, style of play and competing every day,” Berhalter said. “The entire group has worked hard and brought an excellent mindset, and we thank them for the consistent effort thus far. We look forward to continuing to build on these ideas in Phoenix and measure our progress in the game against Panama.”

The 23-man squad now heads to Phoenix to prepare to face Panama on Sunday, before facing Costa Rica on February 2 in San Jose, Calif.

Here’s the current USMNT squad, via U.S. Soccer (caps/goals):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 6/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 2/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 0/0), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 4/1)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 17/2), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 142/17), Russell Canouse (D.C. United; 0/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 6/0), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 5/1), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 5/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 11/0)

FORWARDS (3): Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers, 0/0), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 40/6)

League Cup Preview: Manchester City v Burton Albion

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Even with a 9-0 aggregate lead, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola plans to send out a strong squad for the second leg of the League Cup against Burton Albion.

[READ: USWNT picks up first win of 2019]

Players coming back from injury, such as Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy, along with some youngsters such as Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko are likely to play big roles, and though some academy players will feature, Guardiola stated it would mostly be first-team regulars.

“The guys who have a lot of games in their legs are going to rest,” Guardiola said. “Players who need to play, who haven’t played lately, who are coming back from injury long-term are going to play.

Manchester City is looking for its sixth-straight win to open up 2019. Guardiola’s side has also only allowed one goal this year.

On the other side, Nigel Clough and Burton know that realistically the tie is over, but they’ll see if they can score against the defending Premier League champions on a big night at home.

“It will be about little milestones, and pride of course,” Clough said, via the BBC. “If one of our players could score against one of the best teams in Europe then that would be a milestone for us. Amd it would be a wonderful individual milestone for whoever got a goal.”

Burton sits 55 places behind Man City in the English football pyramid, so this tie was always likely out of reach. However, Wednesday is a chance for Burton to have a night none of their players or fans will ever forget.

Teammates, clubs react to Sala disappearance

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The disappearance of Emiliano Sala has sent the soccer world into a state of shock.

The horrible news over the English channel however has brought many players, fans and administrators together, as they hope and pray for the safe return of Sala and the flight’s pilot. Sala was on his way from Nantes, France to Cardiff, where he had just signed a contract with a $19 million transfer fee.

Here’s a look at some of the big names across the world who have reacted to the news of Sala’s disappearance.


Pressure increases on Thierry Henry as Monaco loses again

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PARIS (AP) Thierry Henry’s first managerial stint took another turn for the worse on Tuesday as his Monaco side lost 3-1 at home to second-division Metz in the French Cup.

This latest defeat follows a 5-1 loss at home to Strasbourg in the French league on Saturday, a result which has the 2017 French champion languishing in 19th place.

[READ: Dele Alli out until March]

We have a real problem at the Stade Louis-II,” Henry said after the game, via L’equipe. “I do not know why, I have trouble grasping. We needed to tell each other truths after the match in the locker room. We must be united. I take everything for myself, the lack of aggressiveness, the fact of not being good at Louis II, the tactical errors. We lacked today to be decisive in the opposing end. It will be necessary to be united, to fight, to go forward and to be aggressive. I do not know if the guys realize what’s going on. I can not be in their heads. We are in a critical situation and we are here to try to save ourselves.”

Henry recalled Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic following a long spell out of the side, and only one appearance for Monaco since reaching the World Cup final. But surprisingly, even though Henry said winning this match was a priority for the club, he left key signing Cesc Fabregas on the bench.

When he brought the former Chelsea midfielder on after 69 minutes, second-division leader Metz was already 2-1 up at Stade Louis II.

Monaco had equalized through top scorer Radamel Falcao, but its chronic weakness in defense was again exposed as Metz comfortably reached the last 16 of the competition.

Henry’s immediate task is to win points to help the club escape relegation – starting with Saturday’s key game at Dijon, which is two points above Monaco in 18th spot.

In other French Cup games on Tuesday, first-division sides Guingamp, Lille and Toulouse advanced.

Cup holder Paris Saint-Germain hosts Strasbourg in Wednesday’s matches.