Moussa Dembele

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Report: Tottenham chasing Lyon, France’s Ndombele

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Tottenham, in need of a new holding midfielder, may be close to bringing one of the top up and coming players in that position into the club.

Sky Sports Italia reported on Wednesday that Tottenham has begun discussions to sign Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The report states that while both Tottenham and the player’s representatives are far apart in terms of a deal, talks are ongoing. Juventus is also reportedly a potential landing spot for the 22-year-old Frenchman.

Like Ferland Mendy, Ndombele’s now former teammate, just signed at Real Madrid, Ndombele has been a breakout star in Ligue 1 as a No. 6 for Lyon.

This past season, Ndombele started 34 league games for Lyon, scoring a goal and helping them keep the seventh-best defense in the league. Ndombele also keeps the ball moving, which helped Lyon score 70 goals, second most in Ligue 1.

That central midfield spot, currently occupied at Spurs by pretty much only Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks, is desperately in need of some depth. This is especially since the departure of Moussa Dembele last January.

For Spurs, signing a rising star like Ndombele is a great player to bet on, especially as he’s earned himself a cap with the France National steam over the past 12 months.

Transfer rumor roundup: Dembele to Man Utd, Fraser to Arsenal

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Manchester United will fire off a $45 million opening bid to bring Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Old Trafford.

It seems unlikely that number will do the trick for the Ligue 1 outfit which bought him from Celtic for $25 million last summer.

Prolific in Scotland after making his name at Fulham and letting his contract run out, the 22-year-old scored 15 goals with five assists in his first Ligue 1 season. He also scored three goals between UEFA Champions League qualifying and the tournament itself.

That comes from Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre, which also has the report that United remains interested in Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff — we’ve covered that before — and has cooled on Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton due to a $45 million price tag.

Nathaniel Clyne is a man in demand after his loan stint at Bournemouth furthered his chances of leaving Liverpool.

Sky Sports says the right back’s price tag is around $20 million, and that Napoli, Crystal Palace, and West Ham are all interested in his services.

Clyne had an assist in 13 matches on loan for the Cherries, who are also worried about interest in star playmaker Ryan Fraser.

The diminutive midfielder showed a dynamic connection with Callum Wilson and rang up seven goals and 14 assists at the age of 25.

But Bournemouth is said to want $38 million for its star. Will Arsenal go that high?

Belgian midfielder Fellaini retires from international duty

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After leaving Manchester United this past summer for a big-money move to Chinese club Shandong Luneng, midfielder Marouane Fellaini has decided to call time on his international career as well, he announced on Instagram on Thursday.

The 31-year-old has accumulated 88 caps for the Belgian national team, seeing time in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, scoring a goal in both events. His international call-up in 2007 coincides with the beginning of the Belgian “golden generation” that features the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, and a host of other highly talented players all around the same age.

That culminated with a third-place finish in the World Cup in Russia this past summer, their best-ever finish in a World Cup.

“After twelve years of representing Belgium at the highest level, I have decided to retire from senior international football,” Fellaini wrote on his social media post. “It has not been an easy decision for me and not one I take lightly however I feel that the time is right for me to step down and allow the next generation of Belgian players to continue this very successful period in Belgian football history.”

“I have many amazing memories with the Red Devils from my debut in 2007 to last year’s World Cup in Russia and I am very proud Belgium is currently No 1 in FIFA’s world rankings. I want to thank all those who have been part of my international career especially my team mates, many of whom will be friends for life and all the coaches I have worked with. I would like to also thank all the Belgian fans who have travelled the world to support us.”

Fellaini leaves Belgium as they are getting set to begin qualification for the Euro 2020 tournament. They take on Russia and Cyprus in the upcoming international break in late March, with qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Scotland on the docket in June.

PSG falls to Lyon in first Ligue 1 defeat of the season

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Moussa Dembele and Nebil Fekir scored bracketing halftime to secure a 2-1 comeback victory for Lyon over Paris Saint-Germain, dooming the Parisians to the club’s first defeat of the Ligue 1 season.

Angel Di Maria put PSG up just seven minutes into the match after Julian Draxler won the ball off Houssem Aouar in the attacking third and threaded across to his Argentinian teammate to slot home. That was it for the visitors at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, however, as PSG – without injured Neymar – racked up nine shots on target but Anthony Lopes was up to the task.

Former Fulham youth product Dembele was the main danger man for the hosts, and he struck just past the half-hour mark with a towering header, beating goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to Leo Dubois’s cross and bulldozing the ball into the back of the net.

After the break, he then won a penalty as he burst down the left edge of the penalty area, putting Thiago Silva on roller skates with stepovers and directional changes before the Brazilian blocked him off with a knee. Fekir stepped up to take and sent Areola the wrong way, putting Lyon in front for good.

Without Neymar, PSG struggled to create significant chances in the attack. More specifically, PSG completed just seven of 21 take-ons, a specialty of Neymar’s on the ball. They also connected on just three of 20 crosses, and Di Maria was the only PSG player to create more than two chances.

Prior to the loss, PSG had dropped just four total points all league season, with draws at both Strasbourg and Bordeaux. Their home form still remains perfect with 11 wins in 11.

Henry’s Monaco draws 1-1 with Vieira’s Nice in French league

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PARIS (AP) Old friends Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira had to split the points as Monaco drew 1-1 with French Riviera rival Nice on Wednesday in a scrappy match featuring three video reviews.

Winger Allan Saint-Maximin put Nice ahead in the 30th minute and 17-year-old defender Benoit Badiashile equalized shortly after halftime, becoming the youngest scorer in the French top flight this season. Badiashile’s header from a corner was deemed to have crossed the line by the use of goal-line technology.

[MORE: Ligue 1 scores, schedule]

Henry and Vieira are in their first seasons coaching in France, but they go way back and hugged warmly before kickoff.

Living next to each other in London, they blossomed with Arsenal and were part of the famed “Invincibles” side which went a whole season unbeaten in the Premier League. The Frenchmen also won the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship in 2000, as well as playing together in the 2006 World Cup final.

Having started their illustrious careers as teenagers on the French Riviera – Henry with Monaco and Vieira with Cannes – they have come full circle as coaches.

Monaco had chances through Aleksandr Golovin and Rony Lopes, only for Nice to strike against the run of play following a sloppy mistake from Youssef Ait Bennasser. After he gave the ball away in midfield, Saint-Maximin took it off him easily and shrugged off defender Jemerson before shooting confidently past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

The goal was awarded before being checked and confirmed by referee Benoit Bastien using VAR. Moments before the interval, he consulted VAR again to send off Nice striker Ihsan Sacko for a late challenge on defender Benjamin Heinrichs.

“There’s a lot of frustration and questions about the decisions. The red card is very harsh,” Vieira said. “It wasn’t a dangerous action and it had a negative impact on us.”

Bastien used VAR for the third time to award a penalty in the 75th, ruling that Badiashile impeded right back Youcef Atal when images suggested Atal initiated contact with Badiashile before tumbling down.

Benaglio guessed correctly to keep out Saint-Maximim’s spot kick. Monaco almost won it near the end when Radamel Falcao hit the post with a curling effort.

“A point isn’t enough for us, but we could have been sat here talking about a defeat,” Henry said. “I have no opinion about the VAR, those are their decisions. Diego saved the penalty – so much the better for us.”

Monaco has not won at home this season and is 19th – only one point ahead of last-place Guingamp, which beat Rennes 2-1 at home.

OTHER MATCHES

VAR also played a key role elsewhere as Saint-Etienne equalized with a penalty in a 2-1 home win against Marseille.

Referee Antony Gautier awarded the penalty in the 56th after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda upended forward Wahbi Khazri.

Gautier then changed his mind after the linesman signaled Khazri was offside when receiving the pass, but further confusion ensued as he then consulted VAR and re-awarded the penalty, which was confidently tucked away by Khazri.

There was no debating Khazri’s late winner, struck ferociously from 20 meters past Mandanda. It was his 12th league goal of the season and leapfrogged Saint-Etienne over Lyon into third place ahead of their local derby on Sunday.

Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman headed Marseille ahead early on from Florian Thauvin‘s excellent cross. The defeat increases the pressure on ninth-place Marseille and its coach Rudi Garcia after a string of poor performances have left fans disgruntled and angry.

In other matches, forwards Moussa Dembele and Nabil Fekir netted late on as Lyon rallied to draw 2-2 at Toulouse.

Nimes moved into 11th spot after winning 1-0 at home to Nantes.