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Transfer rumors: Man Utd after pair of midfielders; Liverpool eyes Lascelles

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The transfer rumors continue as players hope to have their futures sorted ahead of next month’s World Cup.

Manchester United is being linked with a pair of big money midfielders.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Anderson Talisca, 24, could be leaving Besiktas to join United following a $47 million offer, according to Metro. His 14 goals were fourth in the Turkish Super Lig and his seven assists tied for the team lead. He scored four more times in eight UEFA Champions League matches.

And then there’s highly-sought box-to-box midfielder Jean Michael Seri of Nice, linked with United as well as Manchester City. Club president Jean-Pierre Rivere hinted that the 26-year-old would certainly be headed somewhere this offseason.

Mika Seri is … a very good player who has brought a lot to the club and can legitimately have that desire to go and play abroad.”

— Liverpool could really strengthen its center back situation by buying captain Jamaal Lascelles from Newcastle United, though the hinted fee of $19 million seems low for an integral part of the Magpies’ back line (especially given that English players usually net higher fees on account of being English).

And Lascelles has said Newcastle “is the right club for me at the right time. We have a huge fanbase, an amazing manager, and this club is massive. It has so much history.”

The Chronicle also said Liverpool is also looking at Burnley star center back James Tarkowski, and that Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has his eye on 19-year-old Sevilla mid Alejandro Viedma.

— A wild rumor out of Diario Gol says Alvaro Morata is set to fight for his starting role at Chelsea and is encouraging Real Madrid buddy Marco Asensio to join him at Stamford Bridge. The report says Asensio would be an important part of any Chelsea sale of Eden Hazard.

— Cardiff City is said to be signing Hamburg striker Sven Schipplock when his Hamburg contract expires in June. He did not score for HSV last season.

Benfica’s mascot eagle returns after flying away before game

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Benfica fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The team’s mascot eagle is back.

A day after one of the team’s eagles unexpectedly flew away during a pre-match ceremony, the club said the bird had returned unharmed on Sunday.

“Guess who’s back…,” the club said in a social media post accompanied by a photo of the eagles. “You can stop worrying, they are all here.”

The eagles are released before home matches and fly around the Stadium of Light. They are supposed to return to a trainer standing near midfield, but the bird used before the team’s 2-0 win over Vitoria Guimaraes on Saturday flew out of the stadium and kept going.

The eagles carry ribbons with the team’s red and white colors.

Report: LAFC agree deal to sign Benfica MF Horta (finally)

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Andre Horta-to-Los Angeles FC is the transfer saga that’s dragged on all winter and spring long, but it’s reportedly set to reach the end of its painful, natural life, according to reports from Kristian Dyer and ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.

[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018 World Cup ]

The MLS expansion side has reportedly landed its (new) main midfield man after weeks and months of agonizing over the details and negotiations — between not just two, but three, clubs.

A quick refresher/introductory course: Horta, Benfica’s 21-year-old Portuguese playmaking midfielder is currently on loan to fellow Portuguese first-division side Braga; Braga really like Horta being a Braga player, because he’s an above-average player; Braga have Horta’s services locked up through the end of the current season; Braga would not like to lose a key player three-quarters of the way through the season, when they’re unable to sign a replacement; Benfica have the opportunity to cash in on Horta, now, but said loan agreement with Braga poses a problem; Braga have been unwilling to roll over and play dead for the benefit of Benfica and LAFC.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from MLS week 4 | Ancelotti to Miami? ]

Unfortunately for LAFC, this means Horta won’t be able to arrive in MLS until the summer transfer window. Braga could still, of course, release Horta from his loan (prior to MLS’s primary transfer deadline on May 1) at which point he could move immediately. According to Carlisle’s source, though, “the chances of this [are] slim.”

LAFC will reportedly pay Benfica $7 million to acquire the former starlet.

As for how Horta will fit into Bob Bradley‘s plans once he lands in LA, the answer is far from obvious: Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela have been dynamite in LAFC’s first two games; meanwhile, the most obvious point of weakness lies deeper in midfield, where no true ball-winning, destroyer-type exists; Horta’s talent is obvious and will undoubtedly shine through, but the bigger in-season signing would almost certainly be a no. 6 to bring a bit of balance to LAFC’s midfield.

Report: American Keaton Parks to take part in Benfica preseason training

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A bigger role likely awaits Keaton Parks next season at Benfica.

Portuguese publication Record reports that Parks has been invited to take part in preseason training with the first team in July and August. The 20-year-old American joined the Portuguese giant in 2017 from fellow Portuguese side Varzim and has impressed for Benfica B, including scoring a pair of goals in a match on Wednesday.

[READ: Parks signs new deal at Benfica]

Parks has made three appearances for the first team off the bench, including seven minutes in Benfica’s 2-0 win over Desportivo Aves last Saturday.

The Texas native was part of a U.S. Under-20 National Team training camp in London in April 2017 but has yet to make his debut in the U.S. shirt. It’s surely only a matter of time.

Authorities raid Benfica facilities amid corruption probe

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese authorities have raided Benfica facilities as part of an operation to investigate corruption allegations involving club officials.

The club says it is fully cooperating with local officials.

The raid came as Portuguese media said Benfica legal adviser Paulo Goncalves was detained after being accused of obstruction of justice.

The club says it is confident that Goncalves will be allowed to prove his innocence during the judicial process.

Prosecutors earlier this year named Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira in an investigation into a corruption scheme that allegedly allowed officials illegal access to judicial documents.