PRO SOCCER TALKPST Select Team

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Report: PSG in “advanced negotiations” for Kante, but must sell first

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N'Golo Kante might just be the best midfielder in the world, and he might just be leaving Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in the coming days or weeks, as French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that the defending Ligue 1 champions are in “advanced negotiations” over a mega-bucks contract with the World Cup winner.

[ MORE: Neymar says he’s staying at PSG; rumors “invented by the press” ]

The report goes so far as to say that a “provisional contract” has already been agreed. “Provisional,” in this instance, means there has likely been little — if any — contact between the two clubs thus far.

One major sticking point remains: following last summer’s outlandish spending spree, in which they shelled out nearly $500 million to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are in serious danger of failing to comply with financial regulations set forth by UEFA and could/would be banned from European competition should they fail to achieve compliance.

The likes of Angel Di Maria, Goncalo Guedes, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese Rodriguez and Alphonse Areola have had their names floated as possible departures to recoup the necessary funds before paying another fee of (presumably) over $100 million.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

After helping the Blues to the Premier League title two seasons ago (and doing the same with Leicester City three campaigns gone by), Kante was powerless in saving Chelsea from themselves in 2017-18. They finished fifth in the PL and failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League.

Given his age — 27 — it’s wholly understandable that Kante would prioritize playing in club soccer’s top competition (while also making even more money) every season going forward. Throw in the fact that uncertainty is the only certainty at Stamford Bridge these days, and trading west London for Paris — where Kante was born — starts to sounds pretty good, pretty quickly.

18-year-old Vinicius ready to fight for minutes at Real Madrid

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Following in the footsteps of Neymar and Kaka, and Ronaldinho and Ronaldo before them, Vinicius Junior has been dubbed the next transcendent Brazilian superstar, and he’s ready to show why after being unveiled by Real Madrid on Friday.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The 18-year-old from the famed Flamengo youth academy will make his European debut next month when the new La Liga season kicks off, and he has every intention of being part of the first-team squad from the very beginning. While many South American starlets will move to a club the size of Real Madrid and spend a season or two (or more) out on loan as they continue to develop and adjust to life abroad, Vinicius is bullish on his ability to make an immediate impact — quotes from ESPN:

“I am staying at Real Madrid with the first team. I will play some games with Castilla [the youth team] to adapt as quickly as possible.

“I can do everything I did at Flamengo, and do better. I will show I am ready to play and show everything possible as quickly as I can. I know the adaptation will not be easy, but I am ready to do whatever is necessary.

“I am coming from Flamengo, another club with a lot of pressure. The people around me are here to help me with this. I never think of failing, just succeeding, winning as much as possible.”

“Football is a bit different here, but coach Lopetegui is helping me a lot, telling me what I must do, how I can improve. This is the best opportunity a football player can have.

“I will sacrifice a lot to show I deserve this opportunity. But sacrifice is not something new for me. I come from a very simple family, and am very proud of all they did for me and the values they have taught me.”

Vinicius’s $52-million transfer was agreed last summer, but FIFA rules stipulated that the player must be 18 before making the move abroad.

Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

[ MORE: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool ]

Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Transfer Roundup: Everton make $65.6 million bid for Richarlison

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For the second-consecutive season, Everton is set to bring in another big-money signing.

On the heels of last year’s nearly $60 million deal to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton looks set to sign Watford winger Richarlison for a $65.6 million transfer fee. Everton manager Marco Silva coached Richarlison when Silva was Watford manager and has been looking to reunite with the 21-year-old Brazilian.

[READ: Argentine World Cup drama]

Richarlison began his time at Watford in fine form, scoring give goals by the end of November and looking dangerous along the wings. But the goals dried up and defenders began to figure out how to mark him out of the game, neutralizing his danger.

At Everton, Richarlison is going to be expected to lift this side back into a strong position in the table, following a rough year for the club.

Here’s more transfer rumors from across the Premier League, Europe and North America:

(more…)

Statistical guide to 2017-18 Premier League season

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Sometimes statistics tell new stories.

Take 2014-15, when Burnley was relegated but Kieran Trippier sneakily lead the Premier League in crosses and Aaron Cresswell did the same in minutes.

Both have turned into league mainstays.

[ MORE: U.S. players in the Premier League ]

So let’s dig into the numbers from what should be a Man City heavy run through the league leaderboard.

Most wins: Man City (32)

Most losses: Swansea City (21)

Most draws: Southampton (15)

Most goals: Man City (106)

Least goals: Swansea City and Huddersfield (28)

Most goals allowed: West Ham and Stoke City (68)

Least goals allowed: Man City (27)

Best goal differential: Man City (+79)

Worst goal differential: Stoke City (-33)

Most goals: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool (32)

Most assists: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City (16)

Yellow cards: Oriol Romeu, Southampton (11)

Team yellow cards: West Ham and West Brom (73)

Red cards: Jonjo Shelvey, Newcastle and Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester (2)

Team red cards: Leicester City (5)

Saves: Jack Butland, Stoke City (141)

Clean sheets: David De Gea, Manchester United (18)

Shots on target: Harry Kane, Spurs (76)

Shots attempted: Kane, Spurs (184)

Shots per game: Man City (17.5)

Least shots per game: Swans (8.9)

Minutes played: Several with 3420 (Jack Cork, Burnley; Lukasz Fabianski, Swans; Alfie Mawson, Swans; Asmir Begovic, Bournemouth; Lewis Dunk, Brighton; Jordan Pickford, Everton; Mat Ryan, Brighton; Harry Maguire, Leicester; Jonas Lossl, Huddersfield; Mathias Jorgensen, Huddersfield).

Fouls suffered: Richarlison, Watford (96)

Fouls committed: Luka Milivojevic, Crystal Palace (69)

Fouls committed per game: Everton (12.1)

Least fouls committed per game: Bournemouth (8.9)

Offsides: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City (45)

Crosses: De Bruyne, Man City (313)

Corner kicks: De Bruyne, Man City (154)

Penalty kicks attempted: Milivojevic, Palace (8)

Penalty kicks converted: Milivojevic, Palace (7)

Penalty kicks converted without a miss: Sergio Aguero, Man City (4)

Total touches: Nicolas Otamendi, Man City (7820)

Passes: Nicolas Otamendi, Man City (2791)

Pass percentage: Man City (89 percent)

Worst pass percentage: Burnley (70.5 percent)

Possession: Man City (66.4 percent)

Least possession: West Brom (42.8 percent)

Interceptions: Dunk, Brighton (99)

Interceptions per game: Yohan Cabaye, Palace (2.5)

Blocks: Kyle Naughton, Swansea (120)

Tackles: Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester (121)

Tackles per game: Huddersfield (19.6)

Least tackles per game: Bournemouth (13.4)

Highest rated, WhoScored.com: Aguero, Man City (7.81)

Lowest rated, WhoScored.com: Andre Gray, Watford (6.24)

Highest rated per 90, Squawka.com: Eden Hazard, Chelsea (57.82)

Lowest rated per 90, Squawka.com: James McClean, West Brom (-18.53)

Combined goals-assists: Riyad Mahrez to Vardy, Leicester (7)

Aerials won per game: Peter Crouch, Stoke and Christian Benteke, Palace (7.8)

Passing percentage: Andreas Christensen, Chelsea (93.4)

Worst pass percentage, non-GK: Sam Vokes, Burnley (49.4)

Offsides won per game: Christian Kabasele, Watford (1.3)

Clearances per game: Shane Duffy, Brighton (8.8)

Own goals: Dunk, Brighton (4)

Key passes per game: Mesut Ozil, Arsenal (3.2)

Dribbles per game: Hazard, Chelsea (4.9)

Long balls per game, non-GK: Jordan Henderson, Liverpool (5.6)

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