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Battle brewing for Batshuayi after Valencia loan ends

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Michy Batshuayi appears destined to spend his entire career being loaned out, by Chelsea, to various clubs around Europe.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016, Batshuayi has played more than 50 largely forgettable games for his parent club, an electric 14 games for Borussia Dortmund, and an altogether disastrous 23 games for Valencia. Now, after just five months, his time in La Liga is set to end prematurely.

Valencia sporting director Mateu Alemany confirmed this week that Batshuayi’s season-long loan would be cut short on the heels of some very critical comments made by manager Marcelino. Following a recent loss to Sporting Gijon in the Copa del Rey, Marcelino held nothing back in tearing into Batshuayi — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I think we have to get in some strikers. I’ve clearly run out of patience with certain individuals.

“We could have gone in front in the first minute. It was the best opportunity I have seen us create for six months. If you can’t even get a shot in on target you are not fit to play in the Primera Liga for Valencia.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement or a glowing recommendation for future employment. Alas, Batshuayi isn’t expected to have any trouble finding a new club as a number of sides are desperate to land the 25-year-old Belgian for the rest of the season.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United ]

Everton would love to have him at Goodison Park, but given that they took Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea already this season, they would have to sign him on a permanent transfer. With that event seemingly unlikely, Thierry Henry’s Monaco is another option. Henry, who coached Batshuayi and the Belgium squad the last two years, confirmed interest while attempting to remain coy — quotes from Sky Sports:

“Michy? I know him, we rubbed shoulders with Belgium, he is a player who can be interesting. But again, nothing is done. You have to be patient. It’s important that players know the [league], though.”

Batshuayi, of course, knows the league after two seasons at Marseille prior to his move to Chelsea. Depending on which version of the player — the one with three goals in 23 appearances for Valencia, or the one with nine in 14 for Dortmund — arrives, someone is about to get a striker lacking in confidence or a star capable of singlehandedly changing the fortunes of an entire season.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Brighton, Sheffield Utd v. Newcastle

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Matchweek 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Thursday, with two more midweek clashes featuring two mid-table sides, and two more from much nearer to the relegation zone, in action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

First up, PL new boys (and 9th-place side) Sheffield United will host 14th-place Newcastle United, who sit just two points outside the relegation zone ahead of kickoff. 45 minutes later, 10th-place Arsenal will host 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as Arsenal interim manager.

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The schedule for Thursday’s two games is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


2:30 p.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Newcastle United [STREAM]
3:15 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion [STREAM]

Marco Silva fired by Everton

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Marco Silva has been fired as manager of Everton, making him the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job in the last 16 days.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Silva reported for a regular day’s work at Everton’s training ground on Thursday, a day after suffering a 5-2 defeat to local rivals Liverpool, all while a conference call was expected to take place involving the relevant figures: owner Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenright, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and director of football Marcel Brands.

15 games into the 2019-20 PL season, the Toffees currently sit 18th in the league table with less than a point per game — relegation territory — on the back of three straight losses and just four wins all season. Silva’s only victory since mid-October came against fellow bottom-four side Southampton nearly a month ago.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (now up to nine) on the season thus far, but many of the sides to which they’ve lost (newly promoted Aston Villa, 12th-place Bournemouth, newly promoted Sheffield United, 11th-place Burnley, 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion and 19th-place Norwich, to name a few) that forced them further and further down the table and made relegation a semi-serious threat, at least for the time being.

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.

Klopp to take first team to Club World Cup, leave youth for EFL Cup

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Jurgen Klopp has chosen his strongest possible Liverpool squad to take to the Club World Cup later this month, leaving a reserve- and youth-laden team behind to compete in the EFL Cup during the same period.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Liverpool will head to Doha, Qatar, for the Club World Cup, where they’ll play their semifinal fixture against one of Monterrey (Mexico), Al-Saad (Qatar) or Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia) on Dec. 18. The day prior, on Dec. 17, the Reds will also play away to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. With the club’s star-studded first team in Qatar, progression to the semifinals of the League Cup will be down to a team full of teenage prospects.

Only defender Joel Matip and midfielder Fabinho, both of whom are currently injured and unavailable, were left out of the Club World Cup squad.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Players suffering from illness or injury prior to Liverpool’s first Club World Cup game can be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before kickoff.

Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams

Forwards: Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Divock Origi