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Transfer rumor roundup: Ceballos to Spurs; Elliott to Liverpool

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are kicking up a few notches between now and Aug. 8 when the window shuts for the start of the 2019-20 season.

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


Tottenham’s busy summer (like, super, super busy compared to the last few…) looks set to continue.

Spurs are reportedly in talks to sign Real Madrid and Spain U21 midfielder Dani Ceballos. According to our partners at Sky Sports, Ceballos, 22, prefers an initial loan move away from the Santiago Bernabeu so he can get more regular action.

He has four years left on his current contract at Real after joining them from Real Betis in 2017, and he may have to further bide his time to become a regular for the Spanish giants as he’s made a modest 53 appearances (mostly off the bench) in all competitions over the past two seasons. That said, do Spurs need another midfield? They’ve completed the club-record signing of Tanguy Ndombele for the defensive midfield role, while Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko will also compete for starting spots, and both Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are in the attacking midfield roles for now.

The most likely scenario for Ceballos signing for Tottenham is if Eriksen leaves, as he said he wants to, this summer and the young Spaniard can arrive to try and prove himself in the Premier League. A loan deal also suits Spurs well, as Daniel Levy is unlikely to sanction many other big-money signings this summer.

After Ceballos’ superb displays in Spain’s victory at the U21 European Championships this summer, there are sure to be plenty of clubs trying to sign the Real youngster who reportedly has a $520 million release clause in his contract.

Nobody is going to pay that for the talented young midfielder, so a loan move is probably about right, for now.


Harvey Elliott, just 16 years old, is closing in on a move to Liverpool.

A move to Liverpool was first reported in the Daily Telegraph, as the youngster who became the youngster-ever Premier League player when he made his debut for Fulham last season has been chased by some of Europe’s top clubs over the summer.

But according to multiple reports Elliott has decided to take his talents to Anfield, a place where Jurgen Klopp gives youth a chance.

Liverpool will have to pay Fulham a compensation fee, but he cannot yet sign a professional contract as he’s under 17 years old. Elliott was wanted by Real Madrid, PSG and Barcelona among many other clubs. This is a huge coup for Liverpool.

Elliott will have seen plenty of youngsters breaking through at Liverpool in recent years as the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are prime examples, while the signing of highly-rated center back Sepp van den Berg and the progression of the likes of Rhian Brewster, Marko Grujic and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all point to strong development of youngsters under Klopp at very different stages of their careers.

The England U17 international is an attacking midfielder and is regarded as one of the best young talents in European soccer. It will be intriguing to see how quickly he will break through in the months and years ahead, especially as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino still have plenty left in the tank.

He has already got the haircut of a superstar…

AFCON quarterfinal preview: Can Mane, Senegal avoid upset?

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Three wins from AFCON glory, eight teams take their next steps in quarterfinal play at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt on Wednesday and Thursday.

[ MORE: Lukaku latest ]

Benin and Madagascar are barely inside the world’s Top 100 in Elo Ratings, but they are still alive. Does that end here?

Senegal v. Benin — Noon ET Wednesday

Benin made it to this round by tying every group stage match and then using penalty kicks to beat favored Morocco. Simply put: they are survivors. It’ll take more than that against Sadio Mane and Senegal, one the favorites to lift a trophy this summer.

Nigeria v. South Africa — 3 p.m. ET Wednesday

Finally out of their scoring doldrums, the Super Eagles outlasted Cameroon in a 3-2 thriller and now face a South Africa side which stunned Mohamed Salah and hosts Egypt. Bafana Bafana has only allowed two goals in four tournament matches, but Nigeria will put that to the test with Golden Boot co-leader Odion Ighalo.

Ivory Coast v. Algeria  — Noon ET Thursday

Wilfried Zaha may not know where he’ll be playing club ball next season, but it hasn’t stopped him from leading Les Elephants in scoring with two goals. Meeting Riyad Mahrez and Algeria will be a major challenge up north.

Madagascar v. Tunisia — 3 p.m. ET Thursday

Two sides who earned their quarterfinal berths by going perfect from the penalty spot against more celebrated competition (Madagascar defeated Democratic Republic of Congo, while Tunisia beat Ghana). Tunisia will be heavily favored to take the next step.

Africa Cup of Nations last 16 preview: Salah, Mane on collision course?

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The group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has been low-scoring, so we’ll be hoping for some early goals to open up play for the many electric stars of Africa.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the big names find the score sheet, as Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and host nation Egypt has two goals — as many as anyone in the tournament — the same amount as club teammate Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: JPW’s Round of 16 predictions ]

The Reds may be on a collision course for Cairo on July 19, with Senegal the 22nd ranked team in the world via FIFA and Egypt hosting the tournament.

All five of the nations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup remain alive, with three in the top of the bracket and two in the bottom.

The 32nd edition of the competition could see a rematch of the 31st final in the quarterfinals, but it will require Cameroon emerging from a massive Round of 16 meeting with Nigeria.

Should they do so, and the hosts beat South Africa, the rematch will arrive on Wednesday in Cairo.

The Cameroon-Nigeria match may be topped by one in the upper half of the bracket, as Ghana looks to reassert itself as a power by knocking of Tunisia. The Black Stars missed out on the 2018 World Cup, and the winner is arguably a favorite to reach the final.

Premier League talents on show

Senegal – Mane (Liverpool), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace)

Morocco – Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Democratic Republic of Congo – Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)

Ghana – Christian Atsu (Newcastle), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Mali – Moussa Djenepo (Southampton)

Ivory Coast – Serge Aurier (Spurs), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Kodija (Aston Villa)

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Islam Slimani (Leicester)

Guinea – Naby Keita (Liverpool)

Nigeria – Leon Balogun (Brighton), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Henry Onyekuru (Everton).

Cameroon – Gaetan Bong (Brighton),

Egypt – Salah (Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)

Round of 16 schedule

Uganda v. Senegal – July 5
Morocco v. Benin – July 5

Madagascar v. Democratic Republic of Congo – July 7
Ghana v. Tunisia – July 8

Mali v. Ivory Coast – July 8
Algeria v. Guinea – July 7

Nigeria v. Cameroon – July 6
Egypt v. South Africa – July 6

AFCON wrap: Mane brace, Zaha goal help favorites Senegal and Ivory Coast to victory

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It was a great day to be a favorite in the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, as all four countries expected to move on clinched berths in the knockout stage.

In the early pair of kickoffs, Ivory Coast stormed Namibia 4-1 while Morocco needed a late goal to top South Africa 1-0. The late kicks saw Algeria blitz Tanzania 3-0 with a strong first half and Senegal topped Kenya 2-0.

Wilfried Zaha got his first goal of the tournament in the win for the Ivory Coast, sealing the game with a low line drive in the 84th minute to make it 3-1 before Maxwel Cornet finished off the scoring five minutes later. Former Bournemouth winger Max Gradel opened the scoring 39 minutes in with a blast from a tight angle with the only goal of the first half, while Basel midfielder Serey Die put them 2-0 up near the hour mark. Namibia made it 2-1 with 19 minutes to go but Zaha’s goal finished off the game.

While that saw the Ivory Coast seal a knockout spot, Morocco got a late goal to pip South Africa, earning the top spot in Group D and dooming South Africa to a perilous position among the third-place table. M’bark Boussoufa scored the all-important goal in the 90th minute, poking home amid a scrum on a free-kick delivered into the box from the left flank.

In Group C action, Algeria made it three wins in three after a trio of first-half goals eased them through past Tanzania, eliminating the minnows in just their second-ever tournament. Leicester City striker Islam Slimani opened the scoring in the 34th minute, and Algeria got a brace from young Napoli winger Adam Ounas to put them up big at the break. Slimani’s came on a brilliant long-ball over the top from Ounas who split the center-backs perfectly and allowed the Foxes striker to finish it off cooly past Metacha Mnata. Ounas scored his first five minutes later on a fabulous one-two with Slimani, while his second and Algeria’s third found the back of the net with the last kick of the game on the break as Ounas whizzed past Tanzania defender Mohamed Husseini before rounding Mnata with a touch from his right.

With Algeria on top, Senegal finished second by taking down Kenya 3-0 behind a brace from Sadio Mane. After a scoreless first half that saw Mane miss from the penalty spot, Stade Rennais youngster Ismaila Sarr put Senegal ahead with a wonderful volley after Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Matasi whiffed on a cross and left the goal gaping. With the 1-0 lead and a half-hour to go, Mane took control and grabbed his first by latching onto a blasted clearance by Lamine Gassama who just booted the ball out into the attacking half where just Mane was patrolling, and he raced right between the pair of defenders for a fastbreak finish. He grabbed his second on a penalty in the 78th minute, making amends for earlier by burying his spot-kick in the low right-hand corner, and while Matasi guessed right he came up just short.

At this stage in the competition, there is just one more round of games tomorrow before the knockout stage is set. Teams confirmed through via the group stage are Egypt, Uganda, Madagascar, Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, and Ivory Coast while Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo are both already assured of a spot via the third-place table. Groups E and F will wrap up on Tuesday as Mali and Cameroon are in the pole positions with Tunisia, Angola, Mauritania, Ghana, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau all in the hunt.

AFCON: Nigeria first team through to Round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.