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Transfer rumor roundup: Rakitic to Chelsea; Fellaini set for China

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Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Saturday ]

With one former Barcelona midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, having left the club this month, Chelsea are reportedly plotting a move to acquire another playmaker from the defending La Liga champions: Ivan Rakitic. According to Spanish outlet Sport, the Blues will wait until the summer to bid for the 30-year-old Croatian, but he is said to rank very high on manager Maurizio Sarri‘s wish list. Rakitic’s place in the team could be in doubt next season with the arrival of Ajax wonderkid Frenkie de Jong in the summer.


Manchester City have a left back problem-ish, with Benjamin Mendy having suffered two knee injuries in his two seasons at the club and central midfielder-by-trade Fabian Delph proving less effective in season no. 2 as the deputy left back. Thus, the defending Premier League champions are said to be in the hunt for Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell. The 22-year-old has been a consistent figure in the Leicester team since graduating from the club’s academy in 2017. He would also satisfy the requirements for English-trained players in the squad, with Man City presently a bit short on domestic products.


Marouane Fellaini could very well have played his final game for Manchester United as an unnamed Chinese club is said to be deep into negotiations with the player and club over a January move for the 31-year-old Belgian midfielder. Fellaini’s signed a two-year contract extension last summer, meaning he has 18 months left on his current deal. The Chinese transfer window will remain open until the end of February, leaving ample time to complete a deal.


Arsenal boss Unai Emery confirmed on Tuesday that the club is “looking at two different players and the possibility they can come,” but the Spaniard refused to confirm whether or not midfielders Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) and Denis Suarez (Barcelona) were the players under consideration following reports of the Gunners’ interest on Monday.

  • Yet another young prospect is set to leave Man City without ever having played for the club. Rabbi Matondo joined from Cardiff City, for $650,000, in 2016, and the 18-year-old Welshman is now expected to move to Bundesliga side Schalke for nearly $14 million.
  • Jonathan Castro Otto, currently on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, will see his loan from Atletico Madrid become a permanent transfer in the coming days as Wolves are expected to pay the previously agreed fee of nearly $24 million for the 24-year-old Spanish full back.
  • While Mauricio Pochettino is likely desperate to bring in a player or two to strengthen his injury-ravaged Tottenham Hotspur squad, those dreams are greatly outweighed by chairman Daniel Levy’s desire to shed forward Vincent Janssen‘s contract with the Dutch forward failing to make an appearance at the club in nearly 18 months. Burnley are reportedly considering a move for the 24-year-old.

Liverpool goes 19 points clear with win at West Ham

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If Liverpool already had an ironclad grip on the Premier League table coming into Wednesday’s match against West Ham United, it now has an almost unbreakable one.

The Reds got goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bracketing halftime to skate past the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium to go 19 points clear at the top and deepen the hosts’ relegation worries.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Ham looked solid on the break, but they made too many individual errors to overcome against such a dominant side. It could have been even more, but Salah hit the post with 12 minutes to go and West Ham continued to wilt as the clock continued to tick down. The Hammers’ closest effort was a near own-goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold who luckily struck his own post in the second half.

The Reds no longer have their game in hand, but it certainly feels like they no longer require it. With 14 matches remaining, Liverpool has only dropped a staggering two points all year and certainly feels poised to put forth a historic campaign, whether it be unbeaten, a record point total, or both.


Three things we learned

1. This Liverpool squad is bigger than any one player

So far Liverpool has navigated this season brilliantly despite a number of injuries and fitness concerns to various players. Alisson has missed time, numerous defenders such as Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold have spent time on the sidelines, and the midfield has been shuffled constantly. Yet the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah remained largely untouched outside of the occasional rest. So without Mane, it was interesting to see how the Reds approached a game against a clearly inferior opponent in the absence of their most consistent attacker.

It didn’t matter. Divock Origi filled in expertly, Salah put in a solid 90 minute shift, Andy Robertson played well with an increased attacking role down the left, and Mane was hardly missed. This Liverpool team is something else, stacked to the gills with top talent.

2. West Ham can snatch enough games to stay up

West Ham didn’t fare too well against a suffocating Liverpool press, but they showed enough of a threat to be a problem for worse sides. At least, enough to steal some games, earning enough points in the process. It won’t be comfortable and they have a lot of individual errors to sort out, but they should be resilient enough to see out the growing injury list and remain in the Premier League.

3. The Premier League has yet to adjust to Jurgen Klopp

The Liverpool boss has yet to face a significant challenge this season. His project at Liverpool has blossomed to fruition, and so far everyone is powerless to stop it. Each week the German tweaks his game plan, but overall the Reds have done the same thing all season and have yet to face a sustained test. After the game, Oxlade-Chamberlain said that at halftime they “weren’t satisfied” with the first 45 minutes of play despite a 1-0 lead, which goes to show the perfection Klopp expects week-in and week-out.  The Premier League will need to adjust to Klopp’s tactics soon, or else this Liverpool side can truly build into a sustained dynasty.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah


West Ham stayed plucky on the break to start, with Manuel Lanzini coming close with a long-ball opportunity over the top but Alisson snuffed it out. Andy Robertson came closest for Liverpool in the opening half-hour as he was threaded through by Mohamed Salah, but he scuffed it just wide from a tight angle under pressure from Lukasz Fabianski. Minutes later Robertson was there again, but his cross for Origi was just too driven, inches out of reach of the Dutch striker.

Liverpool found its breakthrough in the 35th minute as Divock Origi was felled right on the doorstep by Issa Diop, a clumsy last-ditch challenge that survived a VAR check. Salah stepped up to the penalty spot and buried the chance to put the Reds in front.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After halftime, West Ham looked bright, but it all came undone quickly as a Hammers corner kick came to nothing and Liverpool made them pay for the ensuing scramble. Salah found an opening and fed a delightful outside-of-the-boot pass to a streaking Oxlade-Chamberlain down the middle. The Liverpool midfielder shrugged off a weak Lanzini challenge and stayed true to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

The Reds nearly had a third past the hour mark on a low drive from Origi, but Fabianski got down to his left to stop the effort. They were then let off at the back a few minutes later when Declan Rice picked up a bad turnover in the Liverpool defensive third and marauded forward, unleashing a curler that Alisson parried and then Trent Alexander-Arnold looked to put behind for a corner, instead smacking the post on what was nearly an ugly own-goal.

Mohamed Salah struck the left post with a first-timer on 78 minutes as Liverpool continued to assert its dominance.

Wasteful Man City advances to Carabao Cup final past Man United

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Manchester United won the battle, but Manchester City won the war.

Looking to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit, Manchester United got a fabulous first-half goal from Nemanja Matic but that was all, earning a 1-0 victory in the game but failing to keep Man City from advancing to the Carabao Cup final via a 3-2 aggregate score. Man City was dreadful in front of net in a game they likely could have scored three or more goals, but after Matic was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, it wasn’t to be for the Red Devils.

The hosts had a big chance early on as Sergio Aguero got through behind the United defense and headed on frame inside the opening 10 minutes, but David De Gea made a spectacular diving save to keep out the Premier League’s second-leading scorer. Aguero tested de Gea again in the 17th minute with a shot destined for the top-right corner, but the Spaniard got up to his left this time for another fingertip save.

Manchester United struck first in the 35th minute as Nemanja Matic delivered a venomous volley off a free-kick, burying the chance on the Red Devils’ first shot of the game. The set-piece delivery from Fred came from the left flank and swung out, coming off the head of the first man Bernardo Silva and falling right to Matic near the top of the box who leg-whipped the ball off the inside of the post.

City had the equalizer in the back of the net before halftime as Raheem Sterling latched onto a Kevin De Bruyne cross, but Sterling and Aguero behind him were both offside by a significant margin and the flag correctly went up to nullify the strike.

After halftime, Sterling again had a massive opportunity but couldn’t cash in on the hour mark. Charging on the break, Sterling got past Victor Lindelof and could have taken an early shot, but with de Gea charging and closing him down, Sterling panicked and failed to pinch off an effort. Instead, with de Gea crawling along the ground and defenders scrambling back, there was no room to shoot and eventually his effort was much too late and skied over the bar.

Manchester United looked compact after the halftime break, often packing in and preventing Man City shots from good areas just by sheer numbers behind the ball. De Gea was forced into another good save as he kept out a vicious long-distance Kyle Walker effort, punching it away against his body diving to the right. Somehow, City again came up empty in the 73rd minute after forcing a bad Harry Maguire turnover, but David Silva didn’t take the blatant wide-open chance, instead passing to Ilkay Gundogan who was closed down by two scrambling defenders and unable to get a shot off.

While it seemed United was right in the match, they fell down to 10 men after Nemanja Matic – already on a yellow card – chopped down Gundogan on the break and earned himself an early shower. Referee Kevin Friend had clearly already spoken to Harry Maguire about Matic, saying he was on his last warning. It was all City from there, and while Aguero couldn’t finish their best chance on 84 minutes thanks to the offside flag, they saw out the match to advance on aggregate.

Man City fails to score for the first time in 26 games across all competitions, but despite that they still advance to take on Aston Villa at Wembley, hoping to earn its fourth League Cup title in the last five years.

Liverpool youngster Elliott scores bicycle kick goal in reserve match

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Harvey Elliott came to Liverpool via Fulham as highly rated as youngsters come. He’s got plenty of maturing still to do both on and off the field, but his talent is undoubtable.

That was on display as Liverpool’s reserve squad took on Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Premier League 2 fixture. Just after halftime, Elliott leveled the score at 2-2 with a stunning bicycle kick at the near post on a corner. The skill it took to essentially catch up to the ball as it floated parallel past him was fabulous, and his strike was true as it caught the Wolves goalkeeper off guard, unable to catch up to the pace of the shot.

The 16-year-old has been a regular for the Liverpool first-team squad in Cup matches but has then taken the field for the U-23 squad to get him some playing time, and clearly it’s done wonders.

Elliott came over from Fulham this past summer for an undisclosed fee given his age. He had already become the youngest player to appear in a Premier League game, coming on for the Whites in a game in May against Wolves with relegation looming.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Liverpool

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After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.

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West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.