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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Sessegnon to Spurs, Arsenal back in for Zaha

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A long-rumored switch may finally be taking action this week as Fulham winger Ryan Sessegnon is reportedly set to leave for a move to Tottenham.

According to The Telegraph, the two sides have had a “breakthrough” in negotiations and Spurs could capture the player soon for around $25 million plus add-ons.

Sessegnon has reportedly been a Tottenham target for years, with the club attempting to pry him away from Craven Cottage multiple times. With Fulham relegated this past season, Sessegnon has rejected a number of contract offers from the Whites in favor of looking to find a permanent Premier League home.

The 19-year-old England youth international was a key part of Fulham’s promotion campaign two years ago, but struggled at times with the speed and physicality of the top flight last season. Still, Sessegnon is considered a bright prospect and can play either left-back or move forward into a more attacking role.

Interestingly, the report also states that Fulham is interested in a pair of fringe Tottenham players who are likely leaving the club. Both Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Josh Onomah have been left off the preseason roster and thus are probably on the move, and the report states that Fulham could be interested in both. Whether that means they will be included in a swap deal, or cash from the Sessegnon transfer could be immediately used to then negotiate a new deal for the two is unclear.


According to a report by The Independent, Arsenal is looking for creative ways to keep a move for Wilfried Zaha on the cards despite Crystal Palace’s massive asking price. The Gunners have apparently suggested a new offer of $68 million plus $12.5 million of add-ons and a loan for young Reiss Nelson as a temporary replacement.

While Palace apparently believes this is still nowhere close to their valuation, it represents an Arsenal desire to keep negotiating despite a strapped summer budget that has them struggling to meet Palace’s asking price, which is rumored to be near $100 million.

While the report states that there is still plenty of discussions still to take place and Arsenal may have to pony up even more, it also mentions that Crystal Palace’s negotiating base isn’t exactly rock solid. Zaha has told the club he’d like to move on and while that doesn’t mean he’s at the stage of forcing a move, it does signal that it may be in the club’s best interest to concede on certain matters and cash in now rather than create an internal struggle that devalues his position on the open market even further.


A report by The Times suggests that a Manchester United deal for Nicolas Pepe is “progressing” and while talks have dragged on for much of the summer, there could be movement in the short-term.

With Liverpool not looking to spend big this summer, Arsenal’s budget a struggle and Everton reportedly focusing on Moise Kean, Manchester United could be in a position of strength among the other suitors.

His agent spoke vaguely about the possibility of a move this summer, acknowledging that Pepe has interested plenty of clubs and that a move away from Lille is likely. “All parties need to reach an agreement,” his agent Samir Khiat said to L’Equipe Mercato. “There are exchanges and discussions. He is wanted by a considerable number of clubs. For him the most important thing is to be wanted and to go to a good club in which he will play and continue to progress.”

The 24-year-old scored 22 goals in 38 Ligue 1 matches for Lille last season, helping them to a surprising second-place finish in Ligue 1. Pepe is considered to be valued at around $73 million.


The Chelsea official website has hinted that fringe pair Reece James and Lewis Baker will likely be moving out on loan this season as the club looks to get them playing time.

The club has a somewhat awkward Media Watch section on their official website that drums up interest but also gives credit to media rumors that clubs often wish to steer clear of.

James, a 19-year-old defender, spent last season on loan at Wigan and is considered to be a future first-team prospect by the club, according to the Daily Star report that Chelsea linked to on the site. While they have reportedly turned down a bid from Crystal Palace for a permanent offer, Roy Hodgson has openly admitted they need defensive options and therefore a loan could make sense to help cover the gaps in the short-term.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Baker has been a journeyman loan option over the past few years, seeing time at Reading, Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Vitesse over the past few years. Still without a view to the first-team, the Media Watch pointed to a report from Germany that suggests Baker could be headed to Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Every loan the Blues make this coming season will be noteworthy given their transfer ban, leaving the club looking at internal options to fill holes in the first-team squad. Therefore, any player that departs this summer thins the available pot of players the team can look to moving forward in the short-term.

Guardiola: I’m staying at Man City and I love this challenge

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This year’s managerial merry-go-round tells us that nothing should surprise us, and there are few high-profile jobs that feel safe from changes at any given time.

Manchester City is one of them, but upheaval at old club Bayern Munich and uncertainty at Barcelona have had many linking Pep Guardiola with an early exit from the Etihad Stadium.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

But as Chuck D warned us so long ago, don’t believe the hype; Guardiola says he’s very happy at Man City and not quitting on the project or the season.

“We don’t have a joker in our pocket,” he said. “I know, all around the world, people are saying the Premier League is done.”

“But if people think I am going to resign for these results, they don’t know me. I like this challenge. I love to be in this position. If the club wants me next season, I want to be here 100 percent.”

Few would be surprise if Man City went on a wild run of wins, especially once Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane return to the team. The reason folks think the Premier League is over is the idea that Liverpool would lose nine more points than City seems so unlikely (though they do meet again).

Milan hoping to woo “great champion” Zlatan next week

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Serie A mainstays AC Milan are trying to woo Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the San Siro.

The full-court press makes sense, as it will take some financial sacrifices for Ibrahimovic to join the side given Financial Fair Play problems in Milan.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

Coach Stefano Pioli called Zlatan “a great champion” while admitting he has to focus on the table and not transfers, while former AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani issued a glowing call for the Swede to return to town.

From Football-Italia.com:

“It would be romantic if he returned. But I have a rule, I don’t talk about teams I’m not involved with anymore. I’m only a fan of Milan now. Still, his arrival would enrich Italian football, similar to when Cristiano Ronaldo came to Italy.”

Man, they know how to speak this guy’s language, don’t they?

Sky Sports says Ibrahimovic’s agent will meet with Milan again next week in the hopes of convincing him to take a lower wage deal, and the 38-year-old showed he’s willing to take one for the team during his stint with the LA Galaxy.

The move makes too much sense, with Milan’s 11 goals well below its expected goal number. They need a finisher, and Zlatan sure does that. And if lower wages means Zlatan gets to play mercenary for five months while proving he’s got the goods for a big wage for 2020-21, that’s an easy concession for the striker.

U.S. U-17 keeper Odunze learning from Schmeichel at Leicester City

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Leicester City’s huge secret was told to the world at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil, where imposing goalkeeper Chituru Odunze made several big saves in the United States’ quick exit from the group stage.

Odunze, who turned 17 last month, joined the Premier League outfit from the Vancouver Whitecaps last season, and is already getting some first team training time.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

This is all good news for a USMNT program which has a long history of goalkeepers shining at the top levels in Europe, including Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, and now Zach Steffen.

Odunze admits to being pleased at the tests provided by Jamie Vardy and the Leicester attackers, but says he’s learning more from the expertise on show from a trio of wise first team goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward, and Eldin Jakupovic.

Schmeichel is a Premier League winner, Jakupovic a former regular PL starter with Hull City, and Ward helped Huddersfield Town to promotion during a loan from Liverpool. From The Leicester Mercury:

“They’re all really good role models at the club, and they sort of take you under their wing. They’ve taught me to calm down and be confident in my abilities,” Odunze said. “Of course, there are little pieces of technical information they give me while we’re training, but a lot of the lasting information I get from them is mental.”

The 17-year-old has a monstrous frame, so learning from Schmeichel and company at such a young age while getting tested by the Foxes’ electric attackers is a great combination. He is 2W-2L at the U18 Premier League level.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. Chelsea

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Manchester City and Chelsea both defend their slimmed title hopes when they meet Saturday at the Etihad Stadium (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

City is hoping to avoid a second-straight loss after dropping nine points behind prohibitive title favorites Liverpool last match day, while Frank Lampard‘s Blues know a loss could see them drop as many as 11 points behind the Reds.

And, of course, a win will give either side the table advantage over the other.

Ederson and David Silva are available again for Man City. Christian Pulisicis in contention to play” for Chelsea after missing the international break with the United States.

A Champions League match day follows this one, with Man City meeting Shakhtar Donetsk in Manchester on Tuesday and Chelsea in Spain to meet Valencia one day later.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester City: OUT — Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — None.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek. QUESTIONABLE — Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi.


Probable lineups

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; Rodri, Gundogan, B.Silva, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Aguero.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Alonso; Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Willian; Abraham.


What they’re saying

City’s Pep Guardiola on Frank Lampard’s young managerial career: “From my experience, experience doesn’t count much. I would say that when you know the club it is a good advantage and Frank Lampard knows Chelsea perfectly and everything behind the scenes – media, fans, players – so that is good. When I arrived (at Barcelona) not many people trusted me, honestly. Few, few people. Maybe the president, sporting director and not many. “Maybe Frank was similar at Derby. It was a big club, he didn’t take results in the beginning and people said he didn’t have experience. Look now.”

Frank Lampard on being above Man City after 12 matches: “For us to be in that position is something I am pleased with, I actually want more as well. I look at ourselves and don’t consider others, only where we could have got more points too, and there are times where we could have done. At the same time it is nice to be up there and around it. It’s a great test tomorrow, head to head to see where we’re at. It won’t be the end story, anyone can go to Manchester City and lose, they are such a strong outfit. That is what Pep Guardiola and the club have built over recent years. So I won’t be making huge judgements win or lose tomorrow without a doubt.”


Prediction

Could go either way, couldn’t it, but it feels more likely we see a vintage, defiant bounce back effort from City that looks a bit too easy given Chelsea’s strengths. This is the first big league test for Chelsea since its narrow loss to Liverpool on Sept. 22. We see the six-match winning streak ending via a 3-1 final score.