Transfer news: Firmino to Real Madrid, Traore to Barca, Wilshere to MLS

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An audacious report says (at least) one of Liverpool’s top attacking trident could leave this summer, while Arsenal and Wolves products are looking abroad in Sunday’s rumor mill.

[ MORE: Palace 2-1 Fulham | West Ham 1-1 Man City ]

Lots to consider with these moves…


Roberto Firmino to Real Madrid

Reports in Spain say Liverpool center forward Roberto Firmino would like to play for Real Madrid and is being targeted by Florentino Perez for a summer move.

The 29-year-old Brazilian is considered by many to be the straw that stirs the drink for Mohamed Salah (28) and Sadio Mane (28), all three still in their prime but perhaps starting to see the other side of it.

A big sale of one of the three seems to make sense for Jurgen Klopp, and Liverpool has done well in the past when forced to sell peak players at the right time.

Liverpool has made three giant sales in the last decade: Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, and Luis Suarez. There were different reasons for all, not the least of which was the fallout from Suarez’s World Cup bite, but the approximate $320 million combined price tag sure helped the Reds land Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker, and Virgil van Dijk.

Real has purchased a lot of youth over the years and will certainly be looking for the finished product as Karim Benzema continues to fire but age. This is just a rumor but also a natural fit… and could the money help Liverpool afford a next level of center forward?

Adama Traore to Barcelona

Wolves wide man Adama Traore continues to be linked with Liverpool, Manchester United, and Manchester City, but a move home to Barcelona could be on the cards.

Traore, 24, was with Barca’s academy from 2005-2014 before moving to Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, and then Wolves. He made one La Liga appearance when he was 17 in 2013.

Wolves reportedly want to sign Traore to a new deal, having locked up Raul Jimenez and Conor Coady in recent months.

Recently capped by Spain, Traore has played at right back, right wing, right mid, and center forward for Wolves this season.

He’s incredibly valuable and it doesn’t seem like Wolves would favor selling him to a Premier League side after sending Diogo Jota to Liverpool.

With Nelson Semedo arrived and impressing at the Molineux and young Ki-Jana Hoever behind him, might a Traore move — like Firmino above — fund changes at other positions of long-term interest?

Enjoy this photo of Adama Traore, nearly eight years and eight inches of biceps ago.

Adama Traore to Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 23: Adama of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Foulquier of Granada CF during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Granda CF at Camp Nou on November 23, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Wilshere to MLS

Where could free agent Jack Wilshere fit in the Major League Soccer climate?

The longtime Arsenal man, who also spent time at Bournemouth and West Ham, is being linked with a move to North America after rumors of a move to Rangers did not pan out.

No locations are named in a report by The Daily Mirror, who says the 28-year-old Wilshere prefers a move to MLS over the options available to him in England.

The North (or north of) London boy could join Blaise Matuidi as veteran playmakers to hit the center of an MLS pitch, and might we suggest Toronto FC? The club has three Designated Players in Pablo Piatti, Alejandro Pozuelo, and Jozy Altidore but perhaps could get creative.

Perhaps NYCFC could be a fit, the bright lights of New York some sort of relative to London. LA could also be a landing spot, though maybe Chicago or DC would like to make a big splash having seen strong runs from Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Or maybe a reunion with Thierry Henry in Quebec?

The options are many.

Southampton – Everton: How to watch, start time, team news, odds, prediction

Southampton - Everton
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Southampton – Everton: An intriguing clash takes place at St Mary’s on Sunday (watch live, 10 am ET online via NBCSports.com) as unbeaten and top of the table Everton travel to in-form Saints.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON – EVERTON

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side fought back to draw 3-3 at Chelsea last week to follow up wins against Burnley and West Brom, while Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton have won four of their first five games and have surprised just about everyone with their solid, ruthless displays.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this battle between Southampton and Everton down on England’s south coast.


Team news (INJURY REPORT)

Southampton will not have Theo Walcott available as he is on loan from Everton and ineligible to play against his parent club.

James Rodriguez passes his fitness test and starts for Everton, who is without captain Seamus Coleman, as the right back came off early against Liverpool with a hamstring problem and will be out for the next few weeks. Jonjoe Kenny isn’t fit to return from injury to replace him, so Ben Godfrey is expected to play out of position at right back.


What they’re saying ahead of Southampton – Everton

Ralph Hasenhuttl reflects on draw at Chelsea, challenge ahead: “It was important after the last two wins that we had a positive result and a point here is always good, especially when you’re two down and then again down. It’s a good step forward and now we have Everton and Aston Villa, also tough games where we must play good and well.”

Carlo Ancelotti gives details on James Rodriguez injury: “Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game [against Liverpool]. He had a mistimed tackle with Virgil van Dijk at the beginning of the game and I think he will not be available for the game against Southampton.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

The bookies have Southampton (+170) as the underdogs but given injuries and suspension to a few of Everton’s stars, the Toffees are only listed at +155 to win. That is a big price for Everton, while the draw (+240) will be one to watch here.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Southampton – Everton prediction

I’m going to sit firmly on the fence here and go for a draw. Southampton are better against teams which come out and attack and Everton will do that. Without James and Richarlison up top, Dominic Calvert-Lewin may become isolated. I’m going to go for goals, though. Southampton 2-2 Everton.


How to watch Southampton – Everton stream and start time

Kickoff: 10 am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Klopp: Liverpool deserved to win after starting a ‘bit too hectic’

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Liverpool are still adjusting to life without Virgil van Dijk, but manager Jurgen Klopp was quite pleased following his side’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield United, in which he felt the Reds were “a bit too hectic at the start” before settling in and controlling the game en route to three points.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic Watch: How did USMNT star perform v. Man United? ]

Jurgen Klopp will have to work out a handful of different ways to win games this season if Liverpool are to retain the Premier League title, which makes Saturday’s result a massive feather in the cap of their title defense — quotes from the BBC:

“We were a bit too hectic at the start. We had four offensive players on the pitch but all offered the same option. But I love halftime. The second half started good and for 20 to 25 minutes we were really good. We could have scored more and then they came back.

“We had to dig deep, but the boys did. It’s nice to win 2-0 or 3-0 every game but that only happens if, in games like this, we are ready to fight hard. On nights like this you earn the right to win the others like that.”

“The penalty was not even a foul. During a season there are so many different periods, we have had an injustice and we have had to go again. I love these games, as you earn all of the rest. You earn the easier games when it all goes your way on nights like this”

It’s not just the defense which will have to adjust in Van Dijk’s absence, but also the rest of the team in terms of how they defend as an 11-man unit, as well as how and where they win the ball and launch counter-attacks. A bit more on that, from PST’s recap of Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United:

This is the knock-on effect of sitting deeper defensively and taking fewer chances out of possession: Liverpool won’t win the ball nearly as high up the field, not nearly as often at least, which means they’ll face recovered and properly positioned defenses far more than they’re used to seeing.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Liverpool persevere in comeback win over Sheffield United

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Liverpool – Sheffield United saw the defending Premier League champions come back from a goal down and win 2-1 at Anfield, moving level on points with leaders Everton in the process, on Saturday.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota powered the comeback with goals either side of halftime, as the Reds continue to adjust to life without superstar center back Virgil van Dijk.


3 things we learned: Liverpool – Sheffield United

1. Liverpool taking fewer chances without Van Dijk: It was inevitable that Liverpool would have to change the way they play while Van Dijk is unavailable. There might not be a center back in the world who could step into Liverpool’s backline and perform as he does. Jurgen Klopp knows this, which is why on Saturday the Reds 1) switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, and more importantly, 2) dropped everything — the backline, the line of confrontation and the full backs’ average position (roughly split 50-50 on either side of the halfway line) — by five or 10 yards. Without Van Dijk there to make heroic tackles while sprinting back to his own goal, Liverpool are now focused on keeping everything in front of them defensively, which should result in a brief adjustment period for their brilliant attacking unit.

2. Chances harder to come by without Van Dijk: This is the knock-on effect of sitting deeper defensively and taking fewer chances out of possession: Liverpool won’t win the ball nearly as high up the field, not nearly as often at least, which means they’ll face recovered and properly positioned defenses far more than they’re used to seeing. A team like Sheffield United — highly disciplined and risk-averse — is much more difficult to break down when Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino aren’t running at defenders one-on-one with 40 yards of open field ahead of them. To their credit, Liverpool appear to have adjusted accordingly and found their way through just enough on Saturday.

3. Blades simply not creating enough chances: Coming into the weekend, Sheffield United were fourth from bottom in terms of expected goals scored (xG). While they have shored up their defensive stability in recent games, Chris Wilder’s side is hurting for scoring chances. Outside of their early penalty kick, the Blades created very little other than hopeful shots from outside the box. It’s shaping up to be a long season if this trend continues.


Trent Alexander-Arnold nearly opened the scoring in under 180 seconds, and would have done so in truly spectacular fashion if not for Aaron Ramsdale making the last-second intervention. Alexander-Arnold took a free kick a yard inside his own half of the field and went for goal after spotting Ramsdale well out of goal. The ball was dropping under the crossbar, but Ramsdale pushed it over just before it crossed the goal line.

The opening goal came six minutes later as a result of another highly controversial penalty. Fabinho, who appears set to deputize at center back with Van Dijk out injured, was singled out for the slightest of touches against Oliver McBurnie atop the penalty area. Video review resulted in a penalty to Sheffield United, which Sander Berge tucked home for 1-0.

Sheffield United nearly kept their lead intact until the halftime interval, but Firmino tapped in a rebound in the 41st minute to make it 1-1 and turn the game upside down. Sadio Mane’s header was initially saved by Ramsdale, but he couldn’t hold the ball and spilled it for Firmino to clean up the mess.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Speaking of controversial video review decision, Mohamed Salah had Liverpool’s goal for 2-1 taken away for another inch-by-inch offside decision. The Egyptian was perhaps three inches offside, rather than the standard one, when a brilliant ball was played to set up his even more brilliant finish.

Resilient as any defending champion should be, Liverpool were undeterred and found the back of the net again barely 90 seconds later, this time through Jota. Mane floated a delightful cross to the back post and the Portuguese rose above to head it past Ramsdale and make it 2-1.

Salah went inches from putting the game to bed in the 81st minute, as he raced past a pair of defenders and lifted the ball over the all-at-sea Ramsdale. Two inches to the left, and it would have been 3-1. Instead, the ball smashed the front of the post and ricocheted into the hands of Ramsdale, who knew nothing about the rebound.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Three things we learned from Manchester United – Chelsea

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Manchester United – Chelsea: A physical, rainy, foul-filled fight between Manchester United and Chelsea ended nil-nil and not without help from VAR on Saturday at Old Trafford.

Christian Pulisic was injured but played on in the draw, as USMNT supporters will keep a close eye on the post-match press conferences.

Frank Lampard’s first scoreless draw as Chelsea boss didn’t come for over a year. His second came just four days after the first, a 0-0 with Sevilla in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch v Manchester United ]

Chelsea is now 2W-3D-1L on the season, dropping points four times. United drops points for the third time in five matches to hold a 2W-1D-2L mark.

Manchester United – Chelsea was anything but delightful, though Edouard Mendy had a fine outing between the sticks for Chelsea and there will be much debate over an odd non-call against Harry Maguire.


Three things we learned from Manchester United – Chelsea

1. VAR, what? Harry Maguire cleared a cross into the box late in the second half, no big deal right? Well, replays showed that the big-headed defender lost position to Cesar Azpilicueta and put the Spaniard in a bear hug while leaping to clear the danger. Somehow, VAR did not review the call or did and saw nothing. Baffling.

2. Ole follows Mourinho playbook: This looked an awful lot like a Jose Mourinho-led Manchester United side, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kept Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek, Mason Greenwood, and Edinson Cavani on the bench in favor of Fred, Scott McTominay, and Daniel James. United sacrificed possession and hoped to hit on the counter, at least until Solskjaer saw that Chelsea had hold of the game early in the second half and deployed Pogba. United had a lot of the ball after that and might’ve otherwise claimed a result if not for…

3. Mendy the hero: A dicey early second-half pass aside, Mendy was quite good. His distribution will be the question going forward, pun-intended, but his shot-stopping remains strong. And his stoppage-time two-handed parry of Rashford’s venomous shot was wonderful.

Man of the Match

Mendy


Manchester United – Chelsea recap

It was all Chelsea in the first 24 minutes, when United won a corner that the Blues handled well.

Ben Chilwell spotted Kai Havertz in the 25th, the German taking the ball out of the sky and slipping through Timo Werner only for the receiver to come within inches if contact.

Christian Pulisic danced past Scott McTominay to create space for a shot but swung it right to a stooping David De Gea in the 33rd minute.

The American then lifted the ball from Fred and drove the right side for a shot that bounded wide of the far post.

[ MORE: Palace 2-1 Fulham | West Ham 1-1 Man City ]

United got a rare chance through Marcus Rashford after a Jorginho error, but the Englishman’s shot was saved by Edouard Mendy.

Harry Maguire somehow got away with a bearhug on Cesar Azpilicueta moments before Mendy was called upon to make a fine save on Juan Mata.

Reece James and Paul Pogba collided in the 63rd minute but both continued after treatment on the pitch.

United found possession for much of the rest of the match, and Chelsea saw a limping Pulisic withdrawn minutes after a hard challenge from McTominay.