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Reports: Chelsea teen Hudson-Odoi appears close to Bayern move

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According to multiple reports, most notably from Sky Germany, Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi looks more and more likely to leave Stamford Bridge this January.

The 18-year-old has impressed highly but has managed just one Premier League appearance under Maurizio Sarri this season. With his contract expiring in July of 2020, the Blues have tried desperately to tie him down long-term, reportedly offering him a five-year contract this summer. However, Hudson-Odoi reportedly held off on signing the extension until he saw how much playing time he would receive under new manager Sarri, and with that number quite paltry so far, he is more motivated than ever to depart.

[ MORE: Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Sky Germany reports that Bayern Munich has made three approaches for Hudson-Odoi since late December, and the latest of $37.5 million has finally piqued Chelsea’s interest, forced in part by Hudson-Odoi asking the club to let him leave. English publication The Guardian has backed up that report, confirming Bayern has seen a pair of bids already rejected. The total would leave CHO as the most expensive English teenager ever.

With Bayern desperately looking for a long-term replacement to one or both of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery – the duo sits at 34 and 35 years old respectively – this seems the perfect opportunity to bring in a valuable squad option at a relatively cheap price.

Other reports in the English tabloids suggest that while Chelsea initially pushed for a buy-back clause, Bayern rejected that notion and instead agreed to a sell-on clause, allowing Chelsea a cut of any potential profits should Bayern sell Hudson-Odoi in the future.

Hudson-Odoi has found himself among a crowded winger situation at Chelsea, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, and Pedro keeping him out of the lineup at the moment and the confirmation of Christian Pulisic’s expensive arrival next season another road block to time on the field. It has even seen Victor Moses pushed out, with just two Premier League appearances to his name.

Chelsea can not boast the most stellar record of selling young players, missing out on the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Mohamed Salah after allowing them to leave at young ages, and that could be the case again here with Sarri unable to make room in the squad to keep the teenager happy.

Europa League preview: Arsenal, Chelsea aim to stay perfect

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Arsenal and Chelsea will both clinch their Europa League groups with victories on Thursday.

The Gunners are at home to face a Sporting Lisbon side it defeated in Portugal two weeks ago, while the Blues head to Belarus for a rematch with BATE Borisov.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

Chelsea will use Eden Hazard, but has left Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Toni Rudiger and Victor Moses back in London. Here’s manager Maurizio Sarri:

“Sometimes it’s better for the players to train rather than just play, to train on some particular physical qualities. If they only play they will lose that physical quality they need, and that’s been proved scientifically over a 21-day period.”

Arsenal will use Alex Iwobi in its match, the Nigerian playing very well in Unai Emery‘s system.

Iwobi credits Emery’s training sessions:

“Unai’s very intense in training and he’s demanding because he knows how good we are. He always wants us to be at 100 per cent, giving our best. It’s not just him, though. We know what we expect from each other, so we’re also trying to get the best out of each other in training.”

Up in Scotland, the Old Firm rivals are facing markedly different challenges on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers are in Russia to face a group-bottom Spartak Moscow who can leapfrog their visitors with a win. And Celtic needs to attack after losing at RB Leipzig, with the Bundesliga side visiting with a three-point advantage on the third place Bhoys

Full schedule

10:50 a.m. ET
Fenerbahce vs. Anderlecht
Astana vs. Jablonec

12:55 p.m. ET
Spartak Moscow vs. Rangers
Lazio vs. Marseille
Malmo vs. Sarpsborg 08
Genk vs. Besiktas
Dynamo Kiev vs. Stade Rennes
Rapid Vienna vs. Villarreal
BATE Borisov vs. Chelsea
MOL Vidi vs. PAOK
Apollon Limassol vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Krasnodar vs. Standard Liege
Akhisar Belediyespor vs. Sevilla

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Zurich
Real Betis vs. AC Milan
Slavia Prague vs. Copenhagen
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Spartak Trnava
Rosenborg vs. Red Bull Salzburg
Vorskla Poltava vs. Qarabag
Arsenal vs. Sporting Lisbon
Celtic vs. RB Leipzig
Olympiacos vs. F91 Dudelange
Bordeaux vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Ludogorets vs. AEK Larnaca

Ranking top 10 Premier League players in each position

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It’s always nice to open up a can of worms before the start of the season, right?

[ MORE: 2018/19 PL season preview hub ]  

With new players arriving in the Premier League and superstars staying put this summer, we thought it would be a good idea to rank the best players in each position ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Think of this as a preseason PL player Power Rankings, if you will, and if you want to use this us a “cheat-sheet” for your PL fantasy teams, go for it.

Here’s a list at the top 10 in each position.

I’m sure you we will all agree wholeheartedly on these selections…


Goalkeepers

1. David De Gea
2. Ederson
3. Thibaut Courtois
4. Hugo Lloris
5. Jordan Pickford
6. Kasper Schmeichel
7. Alisson
8. Rui Patricio
9. Ben Foster
10. Lukasz Fabianski


Right back

1. Kyle Walker
2. Kieran Trippier
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold
4. Victor Moses
5. Antonio Valencia
6. Hector Bellerin
7. Serge Aurier
8. Pablo Zabaleta
9. Cedric
10. Adam Smith


Center back

1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Harry Maguire
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Cesar Azpilicueta
6. Nicolas Otamendi
7. Davinson Sanchez
8. Eric Bailly
9. Vincent Kompany
10. John Stones


Left back

1. Andrew Robertson
2. Ben Davies
3. Benjamin Mendy
4. Ashley Young
5. Marcos Alonso
6. Danny Rose
7. Ryan Bertrand
8. Arthur Masuaku
9. Leighton Baines
10. Patrick Van Aanholt


Central midfielders

1. N'Golo Kante
2. David Silva
3. Naby Keita
4. Paul Pogba
5. Fernandinho
6. Nemanja Matic
7. Jordan Henderson
8. Ruben Neves
9. Jean Serri
10. Luka Milivojevic


Attacking midfielders/wingers

1. Mohamed Salah
2. Kevin De Bruyne
3. Eden Hazard
4. Sadio Mane
5. Alexis Sanchez
6. Raheem Sterling
7. Mesut Ozil
8. Leroy Sane
9. Christian Eriksen
10. Riyad Mahrez


Strikers

1. Harry Kane
2. Sergio Aguero
3. Romelu Lukaku
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
5. Roberto Firmino
6. Wilfried Zaha
7. Gabriel Jesus
8. Alexandre Lacazette
9. Marko Arnautovic
10. Jamie Vardy

Nigeria beats Iceland; Argentina still alive

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Ahmed Musa scored a pair of terrific goals as Nigeria set up Group D for a thrilling final day with a 2-0 win over Iceland in Volgograd on Friday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was arguably Iceland’s Man of the Match before he sent a penalty kick over the bar.

Nigeria now has three points, two more than Argentina and Iceland. Nigeria plays Argentina and Croatia faces Iceland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Gylfi Sigurdsson swung a dangerous early free kick over the bar, then produced the game’s second chance. That one was caught by Francis Uzoho, the 19-year-old Deportivo de la Coruna backstop.

Nigeria’s breakthrough came courtesy a lethal counter attack, as Kenneth Omeruo headed a cross clear of the Eagles’ 18. Kelechi Iheanacho collected and found Victor Moses racing down the right flank.

Moses’ cross was collected by Musa with an unorthodox outside of the boot trap, allowing him a second against his surprised mark. Musa lashed home for 1-0.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The game was delayed for a bit when Ragnar Sigurdsson was waylaid with a head injury.

Wilfred Ndidi had a rip deflected over the bar in the 57th, and Nigeria opted for a short corner.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Musa then basically put it to bed when he cut into the 18 and danced around two defenders with the goalkeeper in between before putting a composed finish into the goal.

Iceland got new life through an 81st minute penalty kick awarded via Video Assistant Referee, but Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed it over the bar.

2018 World Cup team preview: Nigeria

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Getting to know Nigeria: Yes, we know their jerseys are selling out, but the team’s pretty good, too.

With Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Victor Moses (Chelsea), and Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), this may be the best Nigeria side at a World Cup since the 2002 side with Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Two of the Super Eagles’ four World Cup berths have ended in the Round of 16, including 2014’s 2-0 loss to France. Remember: this is a nation which has won a pair of U-17 World Cups in the past five years.

For more history on Nigeria, click here.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? D


Game schedule – Group D – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Saturday, June 16: Croatia v Nigeria, Kaliningrad 3 p.m. ET
Friday, June 22: Nigeria v Iceland, Volgograd 11 a.m. ET
Tuesday, June 26: Nigeria v Argentina, St. Petersburg 2 p.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-3-3) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Uzoho —–

— Idowu — Troost-Ekung — Balogun — Shehu

—- Ndidi —- Onazi —- Obi —-

—- Iwobi —- Iheanacho —- Moses —-


Star player: Alex Iwobi – It was close, but Iwobi gets the nod over Chelsea’s Victor Moses. The Arsenal attacker is Jay-Jay Okocha’s nephew, and his two goals against Argentina last year served notice that he’s capable of shining on the international stage.


Manager: Gernot Rohr – The 64-year-old German has been around the block, doing club stints with Bordeaux, Nantes, Nice, and Young Boys as well as international duty with Gabon, Niger, and Burkina Faso.


Secret weapon: Wilfred Ndidi —  Just like in the Premier League with Leicester City, Ndidi may not stand out from the XI but he’s a disruptive force. At 20 years old, he’s got a chance to start a journey as an African legend of the World Cup.


Prediction: Man (or woman), is this a tough one. Argentina is one of the tournament favorites, and both Croatia and Nigeria could be considered the top dark horse of the field (lest we forget group mate Iceland’s EURO run). A lot rides on match No. 1 against Croatia, and we think Nigeria just comes up short in a bid to finish second.