Barcelona - Bayern Munich
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Barcelona must rebuild, but where (and when) do they begin?

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Barcelona – Bayern Munich fallout: The world at large is clamoring downright demanding a full-on blowup and rebuild of the Barcelona squad following Friday’s 8-2 embarrassment at the hands of Bayern.

[ PART 1: Should Lionel Messi leave Barcelona? Will he? ]

It’s a fair request, not only for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal defeat, but also for the last handful of years in which Barca became a shell of its former self and relinquished its claim to the title of best club in the world.

The Barcelona rubble is strewn everywhere, from the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon, the site of Friday’s demolition job, to the shores of Catalonia. The process of picking it all up and piecing it back together — or, perhaps, clearing out and building anew — will be a long and arduous one, but one that must be undertaken.

[ MORE: Three things learned as Bayern Munich hammer Barcelona 8-2 ]

In part 1 of our in-depth look at Barcelona’s path forward, we tackled the tricky question of whether or not Lionel Messi should — and will — leave the club for the betterment of his final few years in the game. Read part 1 first, because the entire discussion begins — and maybe even ends — with Messi.

Which players do they keep?

We’ll start with “who to keep” because the list will be much shorter than what comes next.

In no particular order: Lionel Messi (if he wants to stay), Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet, Sergi Roberto, Miralem Pjanic (because he’s not even arrived at the club yet).

Everyone else currently at the club — whether due to their age, subpar performances or cumbersome contracts — is potentially on the chopping block.

De Jong has been something of a disappointment in his first season at the club, but there is more than enough reasonable doubt to believe the rest of the squad’s failures have given him no platform upon which to build his own Barca career. It stands to reason that, should they put a functional team around him, De Jong could still live up to the expectations with which he arrived from Ajax.

Fati has the look of a future best-player-in-the-world, though he’s only 17 so there’s still a long way to go before realizing that destiny. It would be a terrible crime against football for Barca to waste his talent and potential by failing to put a proper team around him.

Ter Stegen (28), Lenglet (25) and Roberto (28) are all young enough to bridge the gap between the current team and whatever the Blaugrana look like 24 or 36 months down the road. You can’t just get rid of everyone, after all. Even that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of those players, is it?

Difficult decisions need to be made

For age concerns: Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets

For financial reasons: Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele

The question Barca must answer with regard to the likes of Griezmann and Dembele is this: how much of a loss are they willing to take? That means not only on the exorbitant transfer fees they paid to sign them, but also the money still left on their contracts that they’re willing to eat just to get rid of them and move on. Between the two of them, Barca owe $1.3 million per week for the next two years, at which point Dembele’s deal expires and they will only be on the hook for Griezmann’s $1.05 million-per-week wages for another two years. Are you beginning to understand why this rebuild will be anything but easy or fast?

As for the aging veterans of the squad, they’ve all been fantastic and productive servants for varying periods of time, but they are 33, 33, 31 and 32, respectively, but their collective wages add up to more than $1 million per week. That’s a massive burden for a club that was already facing financial troubles prior to the effects of COVID-19. By the time Barcelona can reasonably be expected to compete for Champions League trophies again, none of these players will be under the age of 35.

Of the six individuals listed above, at least three — if not four — of them need to leave as soon as possible. Take your pick of which four it is.

Who needs to go?

Everyone else. Otherwise, a Barcelona – Bayern Munich repeat is inevitable.

That includes Arthur, who’s already leaving for Juventus this summer but they should get rid of him again just for good measure. Nelson Semedo can also go, if for no other reason than he will never be the same after Alphonso Davies danced around him on Friday.

Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic are 33 and 32 years old, respectively, and have no business being part of the next team Barca trot out in September. Samuel Umtiti could probably stay for another year or two and hold down a starting center back spot at a La Liga-average level, but what’s the point of simply delaying the inevitable?

There’s no two ways about it: Barcelona’s recruitment over the last five or six years has been criminally bad.

Given the club’s global popularity and the allure they still have to many players around the world — rightly or wrongly at this point — a Barcelona rebuild certainly sounds like a fun video-game challenge, but rest assured it will be anything but fun for those tasked with the challenge in real life.

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho thinks that schedule congestion is going to cost Spurs on Tuesday against Chelsea as well as in the treatment room.

The Portuguese boss says he will not be able to give the League Cup the respect he’d like because of Thursday’s Europa League visit from Maccabi Haifa is a match the club needs to make the UEL group stage.

Mourinho lost Heung-min Son to injury in Sunday’s controversial draw against Newcastle and he’s worried about what’s next.

“I think Sonny was just the first [injury],” Mourinho said, via Football.London. “More will come. So he was the first, but more will come.”

Edouard Mendy and Ben Chilwell could make their first Chelsea starts in the match, which comes too soon for Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round kickoff times and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham (+420) v Chelsea (-180) | Draw (+360) — 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Newport County (+560) v Newcastle (-230)  | Draw (+340)— 12:30 pm ET Weds
Burnley (+625) v Manchester City (-275) | Draw (+375) — 2 pm ET Weds
Brighton (+300) v Manchester United (-120) | Draw (+250)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Everton (-145) v West Ham (+350) | Draw (+280)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Liverpool confirm Thiago tests positive for COVID-19

Thiago Alcantara
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Thiago Alcantara has tested positive for COVID-19, Liverpool confirmed.

The Spanish midfielder, 29, was a surprise omission from the Liverpool squad for their 3-1 win against Arsenal on Monday and it was initially believed he had a minor injury.

However, the reigning Premier League champions have issued a statement on Thiago after he tested positive for coronavirus and said he “exhibited minor symptoms” of COVID-19 and is now in “good health and is getting better” under the close watch of their medical team. 

Here is the statement on Thiago Alcantara.


“Thiago Alcantara has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently self-isolating according to the necessary guidelines. The 29-year-old, who missed Monday’s match against Arsenal, has exhibited minor symptoms of the virus but is in good health and is getting better. The club has, and will continue to follow, all protocols relating to COVID-19 and Thiago will remain in self-isolation for the required period of time.

“LFC first-team doctor, Dr Jim Moxon, said: ‘It is the choice of each individual whether they reveal publicly the outcome of a COVID-19 test. We have followed all the protocols to the letter and Thiago is OK. He will be self-isolating now as per the guidelines and hopefully he’ll be back with us soon.'”


This news means that Thiago Alcantara will not feature for Liverpool against Aston Villa on Sunday and all being well he will be back in action for the Reds after the international break in mid-October.

The Premier League announced late Monday that 10 individuals tested positive out of 1,658 people tested within the league for COVID-19.

Premier League transfer needs: Who needs what?

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Premier League transfer needs: The summer transfer window closes on Oct. 5 at. 6pm ET and all 20 Premier League clubs will be doing plenty of business between now and then.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Below we take a look at who needs what in the final days of the window, as managers, technical directors and owners will be working tirelessly to get deals over the line to bring players in and send them out.

Okay, here are the Premier League transfer needs ahead of the final days of the window.


Big boys scrambling late in the transfer window

Manchester United set to make moves: They need a left back and center back and want to add an extra attacking option too. It will be a busy week for Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United’s poor start to the season will have brought a new sense of urgency. Alex Telles could arrive at left back, while Edinson Cavani, Luka Jovic and Ismaila Sarr have all been linked. Then, of course, there is Jadon Sancho. Reports state Man United will make a late bid for him, but it seems more in desperation than anything else.

Chelsea need one more center back, but will they sign Declan Rice from West Ham? Probably not. That could be a problem for Frank Lampard who has upgraded his attacking options, goalkeeper and left back but Thiago Silva struggled on his Premier League debut and a host of center backs could leave Chelsea in the next few days. Expect more outs than ins at Stamford Bridge after a big summer of spending.

Jadon Sancho to Man United
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As for Arsenal, they are pushing hard to sign a new central midfielder as they haven’t given up on a move for Atletico Madrid holding midfielder Thomas Partey. That seems like a long shot, but there’s chances of signing Houssem Aouar from Lyon seem to be improving. Aouar, 22, is within their price range and is the silky central midfielder that Mikel Arteta needs to kick his project on.

Jose Mourinho and Tottenham are looking to add a few players late in the window after a busy summer in the transfer window. After adding Gareth Bale, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon, it appears that they want to sign one more forward to try and give Kane a rest as Heung-min Son has now gone down with a serious injury too. Milik to come in? Maybe one more center back too? They need both to be top four challengers.

As for Liverpool and Manchester City, it seems like their business is done. Liverpool signed Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota to boost their already stellar squad, while Man City added two center backs in Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias to strengthen Pep Guardiola’s defensive options. City may make a late move for another attacking option due to injuries to Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.


Teams who have started well set to double down?

Everton have won three from three to start the season and they may look to add one more key defensive signing. Former loanee Kurt Zouma could be available from Chelsea and he would boost Carlo Ancelotti’s center back options. Everton have finally bought very well this summer.

Leicester City have been linked with signing James Tarkwoski from Burnley and Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne as they hope to add a new center back and Brendan Rodgers’ side will need a big squad as they’re also in the Europa League this season.

Leeds United have been linked with a move for Manchester United winger Daniel James and Marcelo Bielsa wants to add one more piece of quality after a very good start to life back in the top-flight.


Relegation strugglers need to do deals

West Ham are looking to add a center back with Tarkowski a key target, while the Hammers will want to add a few extra options in defense too. Going forward they look fine and as long as they keep Declan Rice, they’re set in midfield.

Burnley are looking to add a creative player (Harry Wilson) and a center back (Steve Cook) after a tough start to the season as they were hit hard by injuries.

Fulham will be busy in the window as they search for center backs, while Sheffield United are said to be pushing hard to sign Rhian Brewster as they haven’t scored a goal in their three opening games.


Eyes on the rest of the Premier League transfer needs…

Brighton, Wolves, Aston Villa and Newcastle United did plenty of business early in the window, so too did West Brom, as they all look set.

A few teams to keep an eye on are Crystal Palace and Southampton who are both on the hunt for a few additions. Palace want another forward option as they could also challenge for Brewster, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a loan option for both Palace and Saints. Southampton want a new central midfield and Ralph Hasenhuttl has said he wants three new additions late in the window. Watch out for them.

Transfer news: Man United’s Sancho bid rejected; Cavani, Jovic interest

Jadon Sancho to Man United
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Cavani to Manchester United? Jovic to Manchester United? Sancho to Manchester United?

Everyone to Manchester United!

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

The latest transfer news surrounds Manchester United and with just a few days to go in the summer window it seems like Ed Woodward and Co. are perhaps panicking a little.

A report from Gianluca Di Marzio in Italy states that Man United have offered a deal to experienced striker Edinson Cavani, who is currently a free agent after leaving PSG.

The same outlet also states that Man United have made an offer to take Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid as they know that Odion Igahlo will be going back to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua in January when his loan is up.

Add to those two rumors that Manchester United want to sign Ismaila Sarr from Watford as a back up to Jadon Sancho, plus reports that the Red Devils want to make one final push for Sancho before the window shuts next week, and we have an absolute mess.

Cavani and Jovic make sense for short-term solutions, but Man United don’t need to add more attacking players. They need a new left back and center back to make their squad stronger, and probably a new holding midfielder too.

With Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up top, they are set for attackers but Solskjaer doesn’t think so. Cavani to Manchester United would be a good back-up option and at 33 he could pass on plenty of tips to Rashford, Martial and Greenwood.


Jadon Sancho to Manchester United update

When it comes to Sancho, an update has arrived as our colleagues at Sky Germany are reporting that Borussia Dortmund have turned down a bid of $93.9 million initially, plus $23.4 million in add ons, from Man United for Sancho.

Dortmund captain Marco Reus had earlier poured cold water on reports that Sancho could be heading to Man United in the final days of this transfer window.

“For us players that was great news. We all were happy that he will be with us for one more year because he delivers assists and goals, so we get points,” Reus said. “If he gets as big as (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo, we will see. He needs time, experience and it will be important how he manages the times when things don’t go so well. But he has the confidence and the quality.”

So, that’s that then? Sancho hasn’t travelled with Dortmund for the Super Cup in Munich against Bayern Munich due to a respiratory problem but he has tested negative for COVID-19.

Dortmund set a deadline of August 10 for Man United to put their money where their mouth was and pay for Sancho. But United don’t want to pay $140 million for Sancho and it appears he will now be at Dortmund for at least another 12 months.

Should Man United just wait until then? Can they manage with their current attacking crop? Yes and yes. But they probably won’t.