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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.

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

Premier League March Madness
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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

Handball rule
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.