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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Spurs in late Rabiot swoop, Deulofeu to Milan

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As the January transfer window winds down, teams that still have needs work furiously to get deals done and reinforce the squad. Some are not going according to plan, as Newcastle announced it has scrapped a deal with Jordan Lukaku after the 24-year-old Belgian failed a medical.

The rumors in the winter aren’t nearly as heavy as the summer, with teams often unwilling to part with even bit-part players unless they find a replacement. Still, there are some rumblings across Europe as to who might get a last-minute deal across the line with about a week to go.

According to multiple reports in England, Tottenham is after wantaway PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot as a desperate attempt to fill holes in the midfield left by recent injuries. The biggest is to England international Dele Alli who injured his hamstring against Fulham last weekend and will be out until March. They are also missing Moussa Sissoko, and while the Frenchman could return soon, he will at least miss this weekend, a cause for some concern.

Thus, it would make sense that Spurs would look to make a cut-rate deal for Rabiot, even as a rental for the rest of the season. According to the Daily Mail, it would cost about $26 million to pry away the 23-year-old midfielder, likely worth more than that on the open market but with his contract out this season and certain to leave PSG in the summer without a new deal, his value has been hacked. He’s been openly courted by Barcelona, and even had his agent – and mother – claim that Spurs is “beneath him,” but on a short-term deal could be valuable to the London club.

The biggest stumbling block to the deal is PSG welcoming Rabiot back to the squad. He was sent to train with the youth squad and removed from the matchday team, but they have recently been forced to take him back on court order. With that in mind, the team wants to sign a replacement before letting him go. Still, it would behoove them to get some kind of return on investment, with Rabiot otherwise ready to leave for free this summer.


Championship side West Brom is reportedly looking into bringing Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald in on loan for the rest of the season. McDonald was a critical piece of the Fulham team that won promotion via the playoff last season, but has been relegated to just 10 Premier League appearances this season with new signings Jean-Michel Seri eating up minutes in midfield.

The Telegraph reports that West Brom has nearly secured Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy on loan, and that McDonald is next in line. At 30 years old, McDonald has looked a little behind the Premier League pace, but could do a job in the Championship if given a chance to reprise last year’s form.

West Brom currently sits third in the Championship table, in the thick of the promotion race. They are three points back of Norwich City in second, and just four behind Leeds United in the top spot.


According to Italian outlet Tuttosport, AC Milan is hoping to bring Gerard Deulofeu to the San Siro as the Serie A giants are in desperate need of a winger.

Deulofeu seemed to have finally found a home at Watford on a permanent switch from Barcelona after a plethora of loans, and has been his usual streaky self, accumulating three goals and three assists. Still, a move to AC Milan could prove lucrative to Watford, who acquired him just this summer for a reported $15 million.

The 24-year-old Spaniard was at AC Milan on loan from Everton during the second half of the 2016/17 season, and was excellent at the San Siro, but Milan reportedly passed on acquiring him permanently despite fan pressure to do so. There could be a twinge of regret in Milan, and with Deulofeu’s excellent performances in Italy still fresh on the mind, it could be an important move with Milan clinging to the last Champions League place in Serie A.


According to Fiorentina director of football Pantaleo Corvino, Manchester United saw a bid for defender Nikola Milenkovic rejected earlier this January. Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Corvino admitting they turned down a bid from Manchester United along with a host of other bids from French and other Italian teams for different Fiorentina players. Corvino called Manchester United’s bid a “great bid” but did not specify a value.

Milenkovic has played the full 90 minutes in every single Fiorentina Serie A match this season except for two, and has helped the club to the fifth-best defensive record in the Italian top flight. The 21-year-old Serbian joined Fiorentina in the summer of 2017 from his boyhood club Partizan Belgrade. He already has 10 caps for his country and has become a fixture for Serbia at the back, with the country conceding just two goals over his five Nations League starts.

Manchester United has looked to bring in defenders over the last few transfer windows, but has in large part failed to do so. A big sticking point for former manager Jose Mourinho was his desire to bring in a defender, reportedly targeting Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire of late, but failing to find the backing from the front office.

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

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MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

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  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

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Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

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Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.