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Transfer Rumors: Arsenal wants defenders, Fernandes odds slashed

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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.

PL Sunday Preview: Leicester travel to Burnley; Liverpool put perfect record on the line against Man Utd

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 23.

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Burnley v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Burnley are free falling and there doesn’t seem to be a safety net in sight.

The Clarets, who are two points removed from the relegation zone, head into a tough three-match window without striker Ashley Barnes. Recuperating from a hernia surgery, the 30-year-old is set to miss bouts against Leicester, Manchester United and Arsenal – to name some.

But quite possibly more alarming than that is the team’s recent form. Losing seven out of their last nine, just two points divide Burnley from the drop zone. Sean Dyche‘s team are clueless in the box, scoring one goal in four league bouts. Trouble looms over Turf Moor.

But even then, Dyche, who has made Burnley a force to be reckoned with in the past, believes his side are still a threat.

“They are a good side,” Dyche said about Leicester. “We are on a tough run of form, but I don’t think they are naive enough to think it is turn up and get the business done. We are not a million miles away.”

Can Burnley pull a Southampton and stun a top-four bound Leicester?

“We weren’t at our best [against Southampton] and we didn’t have the energy and intensity that we would have liked,” Brendan Rodgers said ahead of Sunday’s early match.

“We work twice as hard and that’s what we’ve done after every setback. We still have a lot to improve on.”

The Foxes had a rare full week to train, so one can bet that Rodgers is serious about his word.

INJURIES: Burnley —  OUT: Barnes (hernia), Gudmundsson (hamstring) | Leicester City — OUT: Ndidi (knee), Amartey (ankle), James (match fitness)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester United are a part of the exclusive anti-Liverpool club for more than the obvious reason.

Yes, the North West Derby is one of the league’s most heated rivalries, with countless flashbacks in its 203 meetings during its over 100 years of history.

But these two, star-studded squads led by Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, respectively, also have a permeating rivalry of their own. The Reds, who have yet to taste defeat this season, have dropped points to only United.

It can be argued that Sunday’s bout may be Liverpool’s most complicated and least favorable, despite maintaining an immaculate record at home. This is the “big one” that many didn’t particularly circle on the calendar.

“It’s a very, very important football game,” Klopp said. “Very important. We have to learn how to deal with games like this in the right manner. We haven’t done bad in the past but we can still improve.

“Old Trafford [a 1-1 draw in October] was a good example, [we were] not at our best because of their quality. We have to make it more likely we’re at our best.”

Solskjaer had his tactics in place last time around; a small injection of final quality and the team would have crushed Liverpool’s aspirations of matching the Iinvincibles or Manchester City’s points record.

“The last two performances [against Liverpool] at Old Trafford we have drawn twice and been close to winning both games, so we’ve got some games to look back at and that will give us loads of belief… if we perform to our best we have a chance to win,” Solskjaer said.

Sunday presents itself as the final chance for United to pull the upset, and reaffirm why they’re a part of the exclusive club to begin with. But Liverpool are slowing becoming invincible themselves.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Lovren (hamstring), Clyne (knee), Keïta (groin), Milner (hamstring) | Manchester United  — OUT: Tuanzebe (hamstring), McTominay (knee), Pogba (ankle)

Serie A roundup: Immobile nets hat-trick, Lazio runs over Sampdoria (video)

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Lazio’s record-extending 11th straight Serie A win highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

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Lazio 5-1 Sampdoria  

Like Lazio’s season, Ciro Immobile continues to make strides with each passing day.

The 29-year-old’s hat-trick powered Simone Inzaghi’s side past Sampdoria 5-1, extending his goal count to 23, nine more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaka.

 

Lazio, who are three points behind top-of-the-table Juventus and one behind second-place Inter Milan, were up three goals by the 20-minute mark. By the 65th minute, Immobile reached the three goal mark, converting from the spot.

“We would need too much time to count his records,” coach Simone Inzaghi said on Immobile’s magnificent run of form. “We are talking about an extraordinary team player. He has shown that so many times. Immobile has been doing extraordinary things for four years, I’m not surprised.”

Full of confidence, Lazio turn one of the most challenging corners of the season, as they take on rivals AS Roma defend the Italian Cup against Napoli.

“We’ll enjoy this 11th win but we have to already be thinking about the next matches,” Inzaghi said. “We know what a derby means but I can’t allow myself to think about Roma.

“We play Napoli on Tuesday, we know what the Italian Cup means for us, what it meant last year, we have it on our shirts and we will fight for it again.”

When it comes to Sampdoria, things are going from bad to ugly, quick.

“Tonight I’ll add salt and pepper and I’ll eat them alive,” Sampdoria coach Claudio Ranieri said of his players.

“Lazio was too good for us, you could clearly see the difference between the two teams, but it was without doubt the worst Samp performance since I’ve been here.”

Elsewhere

Sassuolo 2-1 Torino

Napoli 0-2 Fiorentina

La Liga roundup: Casemiro’s brace earns injury-riddled Real Madrid win (video)

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Casemiro’s heroic performance against Sevilla highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla

Real Madrid’s goalscoring hero on Saturday wasn’t Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, or even Sergio Ramos.

With two crucial goals in the second half, Casemiro single-handedly earned three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, days removed from cathartic Spanish Super Cup win against arch rivals Atletico Madrid.

With Bale, Hazard, Ramos injured, Benzema on the bench far from match-fit, and Federico Valverde suspended, Los Blancos were in dire need of someone to lead the way, and place pressure on struggling co-leaders Barcelona, who are now under Quique Setien’s tutelage.

By the time the first 45 minutes came to a close, the overall impression was that it would take a miracle for the home side to earn much-needed three points.

That all quickly changed in the second half as the Brazilian midfielder chipped Tomas Vaclik after a picture-perfect backheel from Luka Jovic. Madrid were edging Julen Lopetegui’s side, and Casemiro foreshadowed what was to come.

With the score level, the Brazilian leaped inside the box and headed home a lofting ball from the right flank, catching Sevilla’s defense completely off guard.

Casemiro’s brace came just five minutes after Luuk De Jong‘s left-footed goal in the 64th minute.

League leaders with 43 points, Madrid prepares for their Copa del Rey bout against third-division side Unionistas midweek. Sevilla, on the other hand, host Levante in the same tournament.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Osasuna 0-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-1 Alaves

16-year-old Cherki scores 2 as Lyon advances in French Cup

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PARIS (AP) Two goals and two assists from 16-year-old forward Rayan Cherki helped Lyon win 4-3 at Nantes and reach the last 16 of the French Cup on Saturday.

But the run of Reunion Islanders JS Saint-Pierroise ended with a 1-0 loss away to Epinal, which scored deep into extra time.

Cherki put Lyon ahead in the first minute, deftly rounding goalkeeper Alban Lafont and then clipping the ball beyond a defender. He made it 2-0 in the ninth, slotting the ball through Lafont’s legs after being set up by right winger Bertrand Traore.

New signing Renaud Emond headed in Moses Simon’s cross from the left to pull a goal back for Nantes in the 16th. Cherki then showed great awareness to release forward Martin Terrier with a fine pass from midfield in the 37th for 3-1.

Cherki shaved the crossbar with a shot in the 60th and won a penalty in the 67th after robbing the ball off Thomas Basila. He generously allowed striker Moussa Dembele to take it, but Lafont saved Dembele’s attempt.

Two minuter later, Cherki threaded the ball down the right to Dembele, who slotted in, and the irrepressible Cherki set up another chance for Terrier.

Lyon’s defense remains vulnerable and Simon set up Imran Louza’s goal before heading in late on to ensure a tense finish.

Saint-Pierroise had caused an upset in the previous round by knocking out second-division Niort and the players again traveled 6,000 miles (around 9,700 kilometers) from the small island in the Indian Ocean, located off the east coast of Africa.

Saint-Pierroise, the former club of France midfielder Dimitri Payet, was looking to become the first club from the Reunion Islands to reach the last 16 and almost forced a penalty shootout, despite having forward Jean-Michel Fontaine sent off in the 15th minute.

But substitute Adel Berkane rifled home a half-volley for fourth-tier Epinal with two minutes left in extra time.

Also, there were wins for first-division sides Nice, Lille, Saint-Etienne and Strasbourg.

Lille won 2-0 at fifth-division Gonfreville thanks to goals from forwards Loic Remy and Victor Osimhen, while coach Patrick Vieira’s Nice side held on to beat third-tier Red Star 2-1.

Saint-Etienne won 3-2 at Paris FC, a team fighting relegation in the second division.

Paris FC led 2-1 with goals from former Paris Saint-Germain forward Jeremy Menez and ex-Rennes winger Jonathan Pitroipa. Teen forward Charles Abi equalized for Saint-Etienne with 20 minutes left before veteran right back Mathieu Debuchy netted the winner.

Strasbourg won 5-1 at fourth-tier Angouleme.

On Sunday, Rennes plays at fifth-tier Athletico Marseille and PSG travels to face second division league leader Lorient.

Rennes beats PSG in last year’s final.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports