Getty Images

Transfer Rumors: Arsenal wants defenders, Fernandes odds slashed

Leave a comment

Arsenal is one of the most active Premier League clubs in the current transfer market, if the reports on Tuesday morning are to be believed, as the Gunners look to bolster the back line after conceding 51 goals in the Premier League last season.

According to widespread reports on Tuesday morning, Arsenal is after Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and is hoping to secure a deal worth around $23 million. Both The Guardian and The Telegraph report that Arsenal has already seen a $19 million bid rejected by Celtic and could continue haggling given the club’s high wage bill and tight expenses this summer. However, The Telegraph report states there “is optimism” among the Arsenal negotiation team that the 22-year-old will be moving to The Emirates soon.

Tierney made 20 league appearances for Celtic last season as they won the Scottish Premiership title on their way to a historic “treble-treble” after securing the domestic triple for the third consecutive season. He was a member of the first-choice starting eleven, only seeing his playing time reduced by a hip injury that forced him out for nearly three months through the winter. Otherwise, he racked up over 1,600 league minutes and regained his starting spot after returning from injury in late February.


Another Gunners defensive target has been identified in 27-year-old Italian center-back Armando Izzo. The Italian international, who earned his first and only cap back in March with a substitute appearance against Lichtenstein, currently plays for Torino whom he only joined last summer in a $10 million deal with Genoa. He had a stellar first season with Torino, appearing in all but one league match and completed the full 90 minutes in all but the first and last league games of the campaign, scoring four goals along the way.

Izzo has four years left on the five-year deal he signed last summer, and was asked about speculation on Monday, telling reporters that he is happy at Torino but adding, “Everyone likes to be courted. I don’t like just being called a good player. I’m worth more.”

Most of the reports on Izzo at this point are in the tabloids, with The Mirror saying he could cost around $28 million, a healthy turnaround for Torino after just one season. Everton is also said to be in the hunt and could give Arsenal a run, potentially upping the required bid. Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio has also connected the Gunners to Izzo, saying that Izzo’s agent met with Torino president Urbano Cairo, although di Marzio’s report stated that at this point Cairo is not anticipating a sale, instead hoping to lure Izzo back with an improved contract.


Odds have been slashed on Bruno Fernandes to Liverpool after a string of recent bets, with the Reds now heavy favorites to sign the Portuguese international. Some bookmakers in England have slashed odds to as little as 1/9 with reports that Manchester United are not keen on Sporting CP’s price tag of $89 million.

Still, according to the Liverpool Echo, it’s unlikely that the Reds will be spending that kind of money this summer, with Jurgen Klopp not feeling it necessary to fill that large of gaps in the squad.

Following the 24-year-old’s excellent club season that saw him score 20 goals in 33 league matches, Fernandes then went to join up with the Portuguese national team where he played a significant role in helping the team secure the inaugural Nations League crown.


According to a report by the BBC, Brighton & Hove Albion is close to a move for Genk winger Leandro Tossard. The 24-year-old made 24 league appearances last season, scoring 11 goals and assisting four more. He struggled with hamstring problems that saw him struggle down the stretch of the season, but he scored six goals in the first eight games of the campaign to bolster his numbers.

The report does not give a specific total value of the deal, but does say that the cost of signing Tossard will not eclipse the club record of $21.6 million needed to sign Alireza Jahanbakhsh last summer. The deal will make Tossard Brighton’s second signing of the summer after securing Matt Clarke from Portsmouth.


Chelsea has just a week to decide whether to sign Mateo Kovacic on a permanent deal or send him back to Real Madrid, and there is no indication yet what that decision will be.

Because the 25-year-old is already registered with the club after spending last season on loan, the transfer ban does not affect his ability to sign with the club permanently. With Frank Lampard expected to be named manager within the next 48 hours, a decision on Kovacic is likely to be one of the new boss’s first actions. Kovacic made 32 Premier League appearances under Maurizio Sarri, but with the Italian having departed the club after just one season, it’s unclear how Lampard will view the Croatian.

It does not appear there is a clause in his loan to make the signing permanent, but reports indicate that Real Madrid does not see Kovacic as a first-team player and therefore would be willing to negotiate a deal in the range of $56 million. However, once Kovacic’s loan expires, his registration with the Chelsea squad is nullified and his ability to sign with the Blues disappears as the transfer ban takes effect.


Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s potential Manchester United deal has dominated the headlines over the past few days, and it seems there’s still work to do on that front.

According to the Evening Standard, the two sides are nearing a deal worth around $76 million, which would be a record transfer value for a British defender.

However, according to BBC reporter Simon Stone, the “talks continue” and no fee has yet to be agreed upon. That idea was corroborated by Press Association reporter Simon Peach who said both sides are motivated to complete a deal before the upcoming start of pre-season but nothing is secured just yet. Peach noted that the massive growth in financial power of the Premier League means that even smaller top-flight clubs in England have “financial muscle” and it’s harder for top clubs to “bully” them than it was even two years ago.

Pearson: ‘I was semi-retired’ before Watford came calling

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nigel Pearson had come to terms with the fact he would never again manage in the Premier League — or any league, perhaps — before Watford came calling out of sheer desperation last month.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Lampard prepared to go without January signings ]

“I was semi-retired, more or less,” Pearson admitted on Friday. He had been out of work for nearly 10 months following an 18-month spell at Belgian side Leuven. That came on the heels of a disastrous five months at EFL Championship side Derby, where he compiled a win percentage of just 21.4 percent — quotes from the Guardian:

“I wouldn’t have been thinking it was possible, of course I wouldn’t. It really is a situation that’s come out of nothing. I was semi-retired, more or less.”

“I’ve been asked whether I was worried about getting a reputation as a ‘firefighter’ and it doesn’t bother me. If that’s how people want to look at it, fine. From my own perspective, coming into a situation like this, it’s just a good opportunity to work back in a league I didn’t think I’d be working in again. In terms of risk to my reputation or anything like that, I’m not bothered about those things. I wouldn’t have taken on the challenge if I didn’t think we had a realistic chance of succeeding.

“It’s just one of those situations where clearly there was a need for something different. So far it’s going OK. I’m pleased with how we’ve started to turn things around but I’m also experienced enough to know that it’s still going to be a tough job to maintain the standards we’ve set and push on again.”

Now at Watford, and back in the PL for the first time since 2015 (Leicester City), Pearson has guided the Hornets to four wins in his first seven games, including five straight without a defeat, and a 17th-place standing ahead of the weekend’s round of fixtures. When he took over, Watford sat 20th out of 20 teams with eight points from 15 games. Less than a month later, they sit a point outside the relegation zone with 22 to their name.

USWNT: Olympic qualifying roster minus five from World Cup team

Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States’ roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will look very similar to the one that won the Women’s World Cup in France, with notable exceptions.

Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Allie Long, Morgan Brian and Tierna Davidson were on the title team but were left off the 20-player CONCACAF tournament roster announced Friday.

Morgan is expecting her first child with husband Servando Carrasco. Coach Vlatko Andonovski said that Davidson is still recovering from an ankle injury that sidelined her during January camp.

Pugh, a young forward who has shown promise, was one of the most surprising omissions. Andonovski said she has been invited to train with the team even though she didn’t make the roster.

“It was competitive and she did well,” Andonovski said. “But there were other players that I believe that performed better than Mal. Now, I just want to be clear that she is very good, very talented player and she performed well. She has a big future in front of her. So I’m really sure that if she keeps on developing going forward, she will be on this roster.”

The roster includes 18 players who were on the World Cup squad. Newcomers include midfielder Andi Sullivan and forward Lynn Williams.

Sullivan, a former standout at Stanford who plays for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League, has 13 appearances with the national team. Williams, who plays for reigning NWSL champion North Carolina, has made 21 appearances with the national team since 2016, scoring six goals.

Carli Lloyd, who will turn 38 before the Tokyo Games, is the oldest player on the roster. Lloyd scored three goals in the 2015 World Cup final against Japan, but last year in France started in just one game as she took on more of a reserve role.

Andonovski, who was named coach of the team last October after Jill Ellis stepped down, praised Lloyd’s work ethic and said that if she continues to play well, he sees “no reason for her not to be a starter.”

Andonovski said Megan Rapinoe, the Ballon d’Or winner who scored six goals in the World Cup, was also nursing minor injuries during January camp.

“In the end, the ones that I believe will give it the best chance to be successful, that will give us the best chance to win the games and qualify for the Olympics, are the ones that made the roster,” he said.

The United States opens qualifying on Jan. 28 in Houston with a match against Haiti. The top two finishers in the eight-team tournament’s two groups advance to the semifinals in Carson, California, on Feb. 7. The final is in Carson on Feb. 9.

Two berths in the Tokyo Games this summer are up for grabs. The United States has made the field for every Olympic tournament since women’s soccer was added to the Games in 1996 and has won four gold medals.

FULL USWNT ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride).

Midfielders: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Megan Rapinoe (Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage).

Bundesliga: Schalke spoils Gladbach’s chance to go top

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Michael Gregoritsch scored one goal and set up another as Schalke dealt a blow to Borussia Monchengladbach’s Bundesliga title hopes in a 2-0 win on Friday.

In the Bundesliga’s first game of 2020 after the winter break, Gladbach’s defense was frequently overwhelmed by host Schalke’s rapid team moves, especially on the counterattack.

After a string of first-half saves by Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer kept the score 0-0 at the break, Schalke scored twice early in the second half to secure the win.

Gregoritsch took the ball out to the left flank in the 48th minute, stretching the Gladbach defense and opening up space in the middle. He then passed for Suat Serdar to charge through the gap in Gladbach’s back line and score from the edge of the penalty area.

Ten minutes later it was Gregoritsch’s turn to score, finishing off a counterattack which ran almost the length of the field, with a lay-off pass from Benito Raman.

“We had trouble the whole game with Schalke’s movement. They put a lot of pressure on us and it was hard to play the ball out too. We gave them too much room,” Sommer said in televised comments. “We had chances in the first half when we could have scored a goal, but in general we were not good enough today.”

As well as his key role in attack, Gregoritsch also made a key intervention in defense, clearing Marcus Thuram’s header off the line in the 38th in what proved to be one of Gladbach’s best chances.

“When it works like this, it’s really great,” Gregoritsch said, crediting Schalke’s home crowd for the win. “We’re at home and we can hit the gas pedal a bit more with the 12th man here.”

Starting in goal for Schalke due to a suspension for first-choice Alexander Nubel, Markus Schubert made a good reaction stop to deny Gladbach’s Patrick Herrmann just before the break.

Gladbach stays two points behind leader Leipzig and can be overtaken by third-place Bayern Munich on Sunday if Bayern beats Hertha Berlin.

Gladbach was the surprise leader earlier in the season as its fans started to dream of a first German title since 1977, but it’s started to stall, having won just one of its last five games in all competitions.

Schalke moves up one place to fourth, overtaking its fierce rival Borussia Dortmund, which visits Augsburg on Saturday.

Chelsea’s Lampard prepared to go without January signings

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Frank Lampard is not only prepared for, but almost seems to prefer that, Chelsea make no new signings this month despite the club’s transfer ban being reduced to allow the Blues to sign players in January.

[ MORE: Report: Bruno Fernandes to Man United after Lisbon Derby ]

It’s not that Lampard believes he has the perfect squad, but he fears upsetting the balance and good vibes for a young group of players who have performed admirably thus far. Signing players for the sake of signing players would be “a knee-jerk reaction,” according to Lampard — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t want to comment on those deals because I think it’s easy with hindsight. … I think the idea of January being a time to buy players, it’s difficult for everybody: for players coming in — especially if they’re coming from a different league — for the club and for the settlement of the group. I think that’s why we have to think ultra-carefully.

“I don’t want to make some knee-jerk reaction to say: ‘Here’s my first big signing’ because we couldn’t sign anyone in the summer. No, I want to do the right thing for the club. That’s why if I do it I’ll try to consider all things. Hopefully it’s the best thing for us. Whether that’s more of a short-term option or a long-term option, we’ll also have to consider.”

As for potential outgoing players, West Ham United reportedly made a bid to take midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, but Chelsea rejected the offer and have no intention of letting the player leave Stamford Bridge this month.