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Report: FIFA considering limiting loan players to eight

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FIFA has a proposal on the table to limit clubs to a maximum of eight loans from their squad to other teams in a season.

Sport Bild has the story, detailing the plan, which is reportedly supported by the Bundesliga.

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According to the report: “The sole exception to the FIFA decision: Talents under the age of 21 who have been trained by their home club and have been under contract there for an extended period of time may continue to be loaned in unlimited numbers to further their development by collecting match practice elsewhere.”

This would waylay the current practice of bigger clubs like Chelsea, which has 40 players playing for other clubs including Americans Matt Miazga (Nantes) and Kyle Scott (Telstar).

Could this lead clubs to subvert academy rules and sign more players, younger? There are limits on scholars, sure, but clever teams are going to look for an edge.

And what would it mean to players from outside of Europe? Certainly Major League Soccer, Liga MX, and several name South American leagues would have its best young players a bit longer, but at what cost, if any, to national team development?

The rule would certainly strengthen teams deep into the market on account of Chelsea; Michy Batshuayi, Baba Rahman, Kenedy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kurt Zouma, Kylian Hazard, Mario Pasalic, and Kenedy would have the loan number at 8 before Chelsea considered what to do with any of their other non-CFC Academy talents.

And while 40 is an absurd number, eight is average if pretty low.

Arsenal has 7, Bournemouth 6, Brighton 5, Burnley 8, Cardiff 4, Crystal Palace 6, Everton 14, Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 5, Leicester 4, Liverpool 12, Man City 12, Manchester United 5, Newcastle 5, Southampton 12, Spurs 2, Watford 8, West Ham 7, Wolves 19.

Batshuayi double helps Belgium beat Scotland 4-0 in friendly

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Substitute Michy Batshuayi scored twice in eight minutes as Belgium eased to a 4-0 victory over Scotland on Friday in its first game since finishing third at the World Cup.

Seven minutes after coming on at halftime in the friendly, Batshuayi took a pass from Eden Hazard in a swift Belgium break and guided the ball low into the net.

Batshuayi, who is on loan at Spanish club Valencia from English Premier League side Chelsea, struck again from just outside the penalty area on the hour.

The earlier goals in Glasgow came from Romelu Lukaku in the first half and Hazard a minute into the second half.

The Belgian players showed the quality that saw them achieve their team’s best-ever World Cup showing by finishing third in Russia in July.

Scotland hasn’t qualified for a tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

Ranking the tough UCL draws for Premier League clubs

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All the Premier League clubs will tell you they like their chances of advancing to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds following Thursday’s group stage draws.

[ MORE: Full UCL draw ]

Only one should be feel confident it can top theirs.

Manchester City faces solid clubs — this is the UCL, after all — but can look at its Premier League peers and exhale in relief at the dodged challenges.

4) Man City will face Shakhtar Donetsk, the only team to beat them in the group stage last season albeit in a meaningless game. Hoffenheim and Lyon are good teams from power leagues, but no more of a challenge than last season’s Napoli-Feyenoord group.

3) Manchester United will need to get past either Juventus or Valencia to get to the knockout rounds, which isn’t to say Young Boys are going to let the Red Devils waltz through Switzerland. Valencia brings the threats of Michy Batshuayi and Denis Cheryshev, as well as familiar names Francis Coquelin, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Goncalo Guedes. And Juve’s threat is well-known. The Old Lady will be just as fired up for Paul Pogba‘s return as Old Trafford is to renew acquaintances with Cristiano Ronaldo.

1b) Tottenham Hotspur sits just behind Liverpool for the toughest group. First off, there’s Barcelona. That requires no explanation, as Lionel Messi and pals are deep at every position. Spurs also drew the most difficult Pot 4 option in Inter Milan, though drawing a young PSV Eindhoven slots them second.

1a) Liverpool’s task stands tall, and it will surely hope to get some benefits from the fixture makers. The Reds have to visit Red Star Belgrade in Serbia in addition to getting past either Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. Holy smoke.

Dortmund finds its striker: Barcelona’s Paco Alcacer

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DORTMUND, Germany (AP) Borussia Dortmund has agreed to sign Spanish forward Paco Alcacer on loan from Barcelona with an option to buy.

The Bundesliga side says the 24-year-old Alcacer completed a medical on Tuesday and will wear the No. 9 for the club.

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Should Dortmund take up the option to keep the player, he will be tied to the club for a further four years after the one-year loan spell.

Kicker magazine reported Dortmund was paying 2 million euros ($2.3 million) for the loan spell, while a permanent transfer fee would be 23 million euros ($27 million) if the club decides to keep him.

Dortmund had been looking for a striker following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal in January, and the end of Michy Batshuayi‘s loan spell as his replacement.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc says: “We’re firmly convinced this type of player will be a good fit for our style of play.”

Alcacer, who joined Barcelona from Valencia in 2016, scored 43 goals and set up two more in 151 Spanish league appearances – including a season at Getafe.

He has six goals in 13 appearances for Spain.

Bundesliga season preview: Bayern, sure, but who’s next?

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Here’s your Bundesliga cheat sheet ahead of the Friday return of Germany’s top flight, though there’s little question that not much has changed: Bayern Munich is expected to win a seventh-straight title, and it’s not likely to be close.

[ MORE: PL club power rankings, Wk 2 ]

FiveThirtyEight.com’s predictive model gives Bayern a crazy 82 percent chance to wear another crown. For comparison’s sake, Man City gets 50 percent odds to win the Premier League, the same as Juventus in Serie A and four percentage points lower than Barcelona’s odds to win La Liga (PSG is also 82 percent likely to win France).

The competition for second, though, should again be exciting, and league depth again tempts to make the race to qualify for Europe as long and heavy as ever.

Champions League entrants: Bayern Munich (reigning Bundesliga champions), Schalke, Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund

Europa League entrants: Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt

Promoted teams: Fortuna Dusseldorf and Nurnberg

Relegated to 2.Bundesliga: Hamburg and Koln

Managerial changes: Niko Kovac (Bayern Munich), Eintracht Frankfurt (Adi Hutter), Borussia Dortmund (Lucien Favre), RB Leipzig (Ralf Rangnick)

Americans Abroad: In Bundesliga | And 2.Bundesliga

Another American story (or two?) — As Ralf Rangnick takes over at RB Leipzig, his No. 2 will be former New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch. There are rumors that Leipzig will then take RBNY midfielder Tyler Adams during the January transfer window.

Notable transfers (so far): Leon Goretzka moved from Schalke to Bayern Munich, with Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal the biggest names leaving the champions.

Schalke has signed goal scorer Mark Uth from Hoffenheim, and lost Goretzka, Mx Meyer, and Benedikt Howedes amongst others.

Uth is a loss for Hoffenheim, as is Serge Gnabry going back to Bayern after the end of his loan. Kasim Nuhu is an interesting add from Young Boys, and Leonardo Bittencourt is a good takeaway from Koln.

BVB has added promising Mainz defender Abdou Diallo, while losing a number of name players: Andriy Yarmolenko, Andre Schurrle (loan), and Sokratis as well as star half-season loanee Michy Batshuayi.

Bayer Leverkusen selling Bernd Leno to Arsenal means a change between the sticks, while RB Leipzig lost Naby Keita to Liverpool and Bernardo to Brighton.

Stuttgart hopes more playing time is the tonic for new additions Pablo Maffeo (Man City) and Gonzalo Castro (BVB).

Eintracht Frankfurt has seen a wealth of ins and outs, headlined by Ante Rebic, Carlos Salcedo, and Lucas Torro.

Gladbach added star striker Alassane Plea, selling one of its best backs to Southampton in Jannik Vestergaard.

Hertha Berlin is hoping a loan of Liverpool’s Marko Grujic does both parties wonders, while Werder Bremen flipped the shop and brought in Davy Klaassen and young U.S. striker Josh Sargent to go with a trio of Koln players (including Claudio Pizarro).

Augsburg won big with Twente youngster Fredrik Jensen, and also added Andre Hahn from Hamburg and Felix Gotze from Bayern.

USMNT striker Bobby Wood left relegated Hamburg for Hannover 96 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Hannover 96 added USMNT striker Bobby Wood (right), while Mainz sold Leon Balogun to Brighton, Diallo to BVB, and Yoshinori Muto to Newcastle in addition to the sale of Jonas Lossl to Huddersfield Town.

Wolfsburg hopes Wout Weghorst can be its next big striker, while new boys Fortuna Dusseldorf loaded up with a number of new faces including USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales and 19-year-old Davor Lovren (younger brother of Liverpool’s Dejan). Nurnber has scooped up German-American youngster Timothy Tillman on loan from Bayern Munich.

The read: It’s difficult to say anyone will overtake Bayern Munich, though there could be some bumps and bruises as the club learns Niko Kovac’s system.

Schalke and Borussia Dortmund will both lean heavily on their youth to make up for big name departures. The good news for the USMNT is that if either side succeeds, it means Pulisic and McKennie likely took the next steps in their careers. Bayer Leverkusen is a dark horse to compete for the Top Four.

Hoffenheim has lost a lot, as has RB Leipzig, which may open the door for Borussia Monchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, or even Werder Bremen to return to Europe.. The race for fourth through ninth should be bonkers.

New boys Fortuna Dusseldorf and Nurnberg will face long odds to stay in the top flight, and both Mainz and Freiburg have numerous questions. Those four should be considered most likely to drop to 2.Bundesliga via automatic relegation or the playoff.