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Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba to Juve; Felix to Man City

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

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Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Corriere dello Sport in Italy say that Paul Pogba has agreed to move back to his former club Juventus, but the Italian champions will need to sell plenty of players to sign the Manchester United midfielder.

Pogba, 26, joined United from Juve in the summer of 2016 for $110 million but has had a topsy-turvy second spell at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With Solskjaer linked with moves for multiple central midfielders already during the transfer window, it appears that if a suitable deal to move Pogba on can be made, he will be able to leave United.

Juve will reportedly look to move on Mario Mandzukic, Joao Cancelo, Juan Cuadrado and Mattia Perin to fund the move, but there will be no rush on the move as they don’t currently have a manger. Maurizio Sarri is expected to leave Chelsea to take charge of Juve in the coming days, and then Juve will be able to kick on with the transfer business for the summer.

If United can get back most of the $110 million they spent on Pogba, that would be a very good deal. In an ideal world they would get a little cash and maybe Paulo Dybala in exchange for Pogba. Although his displays picked up when Mourinho departed and Solskjaer arrived, the Frenchman’s form regressed at the end of the season and he really is at a crossroads in his career.

Does he stay at United and lead their rebuild and a possible return to glory? Or does he return to Juve where he can help them challenged for the European title alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and settle for the relative safety of winning Serie A year in, year out?


Portuguese teenager Joao Felix is one of the hottest properties in world soccer and Manchester City is pushing ahead with their attempts to sign the Benfica midfielder.

Benfica’s chairman has admitted that Felix could be sold this summer, and Portuguese newspaper Record say that Man City have offered wages in excess of $33.7 million over five years. Wowza.

The attacking midfielder is said to have a release clause of $133.1 million, but neither City nor Man United, who are also in the hunt for Felix, have triggered that clause.

Felix, 19, was part of Portugal’s squad which won the UEFA Nations League over the weekend and his attacking prowess, close control and worth ethic means he is perfect for Pep Guardiola‘s style of play. In many ways he’s a younger Bernardo Silva, and with David Silva not getting any younger and Phil Foden yet to fully flourish into a first team regular, this is an area where City could strengthen.

The figures are eye-watering but Felix is one of the best young talents in Europe and if City want to continue their domination they have to sign players of his ilk. With Leroy Sane potentially heading out of the door this summer, the transfer fee may not be as daunting as it seems right now.

Ronaldo hat trick puts Portugal in final

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It’s kinda what he does, you know, scoring huge goals?

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick as Portugal clinched a spot in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Final with a 3-1 defeat of Switzerland on Wednesday at the Estadio do Dragao.

[ MORE: Premier League VAR details ]

Ronaldo’s match-winner came in the 88th minute off a feed from Bernardo Silva, and then the Portuguese megastar cooked Manuel Akanji en route to a 90th minute insurance goal.

Ricardo Rodriguez scored a penalty kick for Switzerland’s lone goal.

Ronaldo’s performance came on the same day that the American lawsuit filed against Ronaldo for rape was moved to federal court.

The first goal was wonderful, a free kick sent through the wall after Ronaldo was fouled to win the opportunity, though it came after Bruno Fernandes was somehow not sent off for a sliding studs-up challenge. To be fair to Portugal, Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka could also have been sent off minutes later for a two-footed challenge.

The goals were the 86th, 87th, and 88th of his Portugal senior career.

And really the performance saved the story line, which would’ve been all about VAR after a penalty awarded to Portugal was never given thanks to a video review which nullified the foul in order to give a dodgy penalty to the Swiss.

That in itself had a measure of fairness, as the Swiss were the better team on the day. They just didn’t have Cristiano Ronaldo.

Report: Sarri to be released from Chelsea contract

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Just two days after the Blues hoisted the Europa League crown, a report claims that Maurizio Sarri will be released from his Chelsea contract so he can leave Stamford Bridge and take the Juventus job.

The report comes from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla, a correspondent for Italian television outlet SportItalia and independent journalist who is close to Sarri. According to Football Italia, Pedulla was the first on the scene when Sarri departed Napoli for Chelsea just one year ago and has a very good relationship with the current Blues boss.

Pedulla’s report states that Sarri’s agent Fali Ramadani has departed London with assurances from Chelsea brass that the Italian will be free to leave the club this summer without breaching his contract. Reportedly, Chelsea spoke with Ramadani nearly three weeks ago to begin discussions regarding Sarri’s departure independent of the outcome of the Europa League final.

Since, the report has been corroborated by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, who additionally reports that Sarri himself met with Chelsea executive director Marina Granovskaia to reiterate his desire for a return to Italy.

Rumors have flown for weeks of Sarri’s departure this summer after a roller coaster season that saw the club finish third in the Premier League and win the Europa League title, while also reaching the League Cup final. Those outcomes on paper would have likely been acceptable for Sarri’s first year in charge had it not been for a few especially trying moments throughout the campaign that saw the Italian come under heavy fire.

The club lost three Premier League games in a six-match span through December, then dropped to Bournemouth, Arsenal, and Manchester City by a combined 12-0 sandwiched over a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a perfect encapsulation of the range of emotions Chelsea felt this season. Sarri also made the controversial decision to move Player of the Year defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante from his natural position and use new signing Jorginho in that spot instead, to mixed success.

Sarri was often combative when faced with questions about his possible departure at press conferences in recent weeks, although it appears there was substance to those questions after all. Rumors have tabbed former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard as the favorite to take over should Sarri indeed leave, but nothing concrete has taken place in that regard publicly with Sarri’s future still in question.

With Massimilano Allegri leaving Juventus after securing the club’s 10th straight Serie A crown, Sarri appears to have seized the opportunity to return to his home country. The Juventus squad is in need of a serious overhaul, with a number of aging players weighing down the roster. 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still seems to be at his goalscoring best, but Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci are all north of 30 years old, with Miralem Pjanic and Wojciech Szczesny nearly there. The club has Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Rodrigo Betancur, and Emre Can all 25 years old or younger along with 19-year-old breakout star Moise Kean, but otherwise the youthful talent is severely lacking.

Continuing at Chelsea, however, would have come with its own baggage as well. The Blues are facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that is currently under appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Eden Hazard, the club’s star attacking player, is likely headed to Real Madrid this summer for a hefty fee, and pending the outcome of the CAS decision, the club could have lots of money to spend in the coming transfer fee. American winger Christian Pulisic has already officially joined the club after finishing out the season with Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is also known for running through managers at a vicious pace, and Sarri may have wanted to work for someone with a less itchy trigger finger.

Alongside Sarri, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also returned home to Italy to take the Inter Milan job, with the AC Milan managerial position still open after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.

Report: Man City turns down Bayern bid for Leroy Sane

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According to a report by The Guardian, Manchester City has turned down a sizable $89 million bid from German champions Bayern Munich for winger Leroy Sane.

Guardian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports that he expects Bayern to seriously consider coming back with a larger bid as the club looks to pry Sane from the back-to-back Premier League champions. Sane’s contract expires in the summer of 2021, meaning with two years left on his deal, this would be the time for City to sell at top dollar.

[ MORE: Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

The 23-year-old has struggled for playing time at Manchester City over the past season, a fact which could work in Bayern’s favor. While he has racked up 63 Premier League appearances over the two championship seasons, Sane saw his minutes drop from over 2,400 last season to just 1,867 this past campaign, often used as a substitute late in games. He was especially under-utilized towards the end of the season as the team fought with Liverpool for the title, left as an unused substitute just as often as he made the starting lineup after January – five times.

Still, according to the report, Manchester City desperately wants to keep Sane at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola confirmed after the FA Cup final that the club has offered Sane a contract extension recently, saying, “We offered to extend his contract. We want him to stay. What proof is more than for six, seven months we want to extend his contract? If we don’t want him, we don’t extend his contract.”

Should Sane depart, Manchester City still sports outstanding depth on the wing, with Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Fabian Delph, and David Silva all capable of playing out wide.

Bayern Munich is hoping to replace the departing duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, both of whom are leaving the club at the expiration of their contracts. Kingsley Coman is a good bet to earn more playing time on the left and Serge Gnabry has impressed on the right, with both players under the age of 24, but Coman has struggled with injury problems in the past and Gnabry has a small sample size of success at the highest level.

Sane has experience in the Bundesliga, arriving at Manchester City in the summer of 2016 from German side Schalke, making 47 German top-flight appearances for the club before his departure.

U-20 World Cup preview: Ramos to make history

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The United States U-20 side is set to begin its 2019 World Cup campaign on Friday when it begins Group D play in Poland.

Tab Ramos will make history in the process, equalling the FIFA record of most championship tournaments participated as a player or coach. The 52-year-old will officially take part in his 11th FIFA championship event, matching the record held by Germany’s U-20 women head coach Maren Meinert.

United States

The United States side is one of the best ever on paper, with a mix of emerging domestic talent alongside youngsters from the best clubs in Europe. They will take on Ukraine, Nigeria, and Qatar in high-leverage group stage play. Riding on the result of group play is a place in the knockout phase, with a massive gulf in difference between finishing first and second in the group. The first-place finisher in Group D draws the strongest third-place side from Groups B, E, and F – possibilities include the likes of Mali, South Korea, Panama, or Italy. Meanwhile, the second-place finisher from Group D takes on the winner of Group E, which will almost definitely come in the form of championship hopeful France.

An exciting group of young American players with more well-known names including Timothy Weah and Paxton Pomykal mixes with supreme talents like Barcelona youth product Konrad de la Fuente in attack and Bayern Munich teen Chris Richards who will look to anchor the defense. While the U.S. isn’t exactly a favorite to win the tournament, they are a strong contender looking to reach at least the quarterfinals if not further.

US U-20 squad

GK: CJ Dos Santos (Benfica), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Koln).
DEF: Sergino Dest (Ajax), Chris Gloster (Hannover 96), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew/Richmond Kickers), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich).
MID: Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas), Chris Durkin (D.C. United), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Mendez (Freiburg), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas).
FWD: Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC), Konrad De La Fuente (Barcelona), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/Celtic FC)

Potential breakout players

Aside from the United States squad, there is a host of young talent at the tournament in Poland. These are the players you should keep a close eye on.

Diego Lainez (winger, Mexico) – Mexico’s 18-year-old winger has been a fixture for the national team at every youth level, playing every minute for the U-17 side in the 2017 World Cup. He has since earned a quartet of senior side call-ups and looked electric in his time on the field.

Radoslaw Majecki (goalkeeper, Poland) – At just 19 years old, Majecki has been the starting goalkeeper for Champions League regulars Legia Warsaw since he won the job in November. While he has yet to make his CL debut (having earned the starting job after Legia Warsaw was eliminated from the competition in the qualifying stages), he is as experienced as they come for players in this competition and a huge asset for his country.

Jackson Porozo (defender, Ecuador) – The 18-year-old was an absolute monster in the South American U-20 championships back in late January and early February, helping Ecuador keep five clean sheets and finish the competition on a stunning 298-minute streak without conceding a single goal as they shocked the continent by winning the tournament. Porozo, who joined the Santos youth setup last summer, was a man among boys in the South American championships, and long with his goalkeeper Moises Ramirez – who also has high expectations for a solid future – this Ecuador side has a shot at making it out of an absolutely loaded Group B.

Interesting storylines

Group B – The most loaded group in the tournament sees Mexico, Italy, Ecuador, and Japan all come together for a brutal battle. While the top two teams are guaranteed to advance, it could also be a factor for one of the coveted third-place spots, of particular interest to the United States, who would take on a Group B third-place qualifier should they win Group D. Mexico won the CONCACAF U-20 championships, Ecuador stunningly reigned supreme in CONMEBOL over traditional superpowers Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, while both Italy and Japan performed quite well in their own tournaments, each reaching the semifinals. This is easily the most fun early storyline.

France as favorites – Portugal, Poland, Nigeria, and Argentina are all firmly in the mix, but France is considered the favorite according to most oddsmakers. Bernard Diomede will have a challenge as Lyon’s young star Amine Gouiri will be missing as he takes part in the U-21 UEFA championships this summer, but he does have Borussia Dortmund youngster Dan Axel-Zagadou leading the back line. While the French senior side is on top of the world, the youth team has plenty of talent coming down the pipeline.

Can Argentina bounce back? – The six-time champions slipped a bit at the CONMEBOL championships earlier this year, falling to both Ecuador and Brazil in the final stage while beating Uruguay and Colombia by just a goal. The traditionally dominant South American powerhouse has proven fallable over the last year or so, and while they most certainly have a squad capable of placing in this tournament, they will need more consistency. The squad sports Atlanta United winger Ezequiel Barco, who has four goals in eight MLS appearances this season and is in good form. Other big names include Atletico Madrid defender and youth team captain Nehuen Perez, Boca Juniors goalkeeper Manuel Roffo – who trained with the senior team earlier this year – and midfielder Santiago Sosa who has dabbled in the River Plate senior squad at just 19.