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Report: Liverpool favorites to sign Jadon Sancho

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Jadon Sancho could be on the move sooner than we think.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

A report from Norwegian journalist, and former Premier League striker, Jan Aage Fjortoft  from Viasat claims that Sancho wants to leave Borussia Dortmund in January and he says that current Premier League leaders and European champions Liverpool are favorites to sign him.

That has led to #Sancho2020 trending on Twitter as Liverpool fans are having a moment, just as they did when reports a few months ago linked Kylian Mbappe with a move to Anfield.

As for Sancho, the England international, 19, has excelled at Borussia Dortmund over the last 18 months but after he was hauled off by BVB coach Lucien Favre in the first half of a humbling defeat at Bayern Munich last month, then criticized by his coach, Sancho’s future has come into discussion once again after previous fallings out with the hierarchy at Dortmund.

On the pitch he continues to deliver as he scored in Dortmund’s win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, in their UEFA Champions League defeat a Barcelona last week and against Paderborn before that, as those goals added to two assists in his last five games for the German giants.

Sancho has a host of Europe’s top clubs forming a not so orderly queue to sign him, with Man United, Barcelona, Chelsea and PSG all heavily linked with a move for the teenage sensation.

It is expected that Sancho would cost over $130 million, and Dortmund have previously admitted he won’t be with them for much longer, but do Liverpool need to strengthen in the attacking midfield/wing areas?

Nope. But what was it Sir Alex Ferguson always said about adding new players when you’re in a position of strength…

Sancho would no doubt provide serious competition to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for a starting spot right away, but if you look at Klopp’s options after those three, things start to get pretty thin.

Divock Origi is the next man up and aside from his legendary status among Liverpool fans, will he strike fear into the hearts of opponents if he replace one of the aforementioned trio? Probably not. After Origi there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who can play in a wide role, then teenagers Rhian Brewster and Curtis Jones are up and Xherdan Shaqiri is around but often an injury doubt.

Liverpool are stacked in the defense and midfield but the front three have been so good and have largely remained injury free that they haven’t had to worry about their attack.

Sancho’s arrival could also suggest that one of Mane or Salah may move on in 2020 as both have been linked with moves to Real Madrid in the past. Having Sancho come in to replace them would be ideal, but a move in January seems unlikely.

But maybe Liverpool will want to get in ahead of the competition in January to sign the former Watford and Man City product before he excels at EURO 2020 for England and his transfer value skyrockets. Right now Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are ahead of Sancho in the England pecking order but the Dortmund winger is pushing them all the way and seems to be a perfect fit for the way Liverpool play. His pace and trickery is a combination of Salah and Mane and at such a young age he has delivered at Dortmund and is starting to for England.

For Liverpool to stay on top, they need to be ruthless and strengthen their squad even when it looks like they don’t need to. Moves like this are when a great team starts to feel like a dynasty is on the way.

LIVE, UCL: Liverpool 1-1 Napoli after Chelsea draws Valencia

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Both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur secured a berth in the Champions League knockout stage yesterday, and now the Premier League looks to Chelsea and Liverpool to do the same.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Chelsea has an early 12:55 p.m. ET kick as they head to Spain, an absolutely vital match as Chelsea sits level on seven points with both today’s opponent Valencia and group leaders Ajax. While they cannot officially secure advancement today, victory at Mestalla Stadium would be a massive step towards doing so, leaving them at the brink of qualification.

Christian Pulisic starts again for the Blues with N’Golo Kante and Tammy Abraham also in the lineup as Frank Lampard looks to secure a significant advantage over a clogged Group H crowd.

Liverpool is home against Napoli where victory would indeed clinch a spot in the knockout stage. A draw would also do the trick should Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg fail to win on the road in Belgium. The Reds suffered a 2-0 loss in Italy back in mid-September and will look for revenge against a Carlo Ancelotti side in slight turmoil, having failed to win any of its last six matches across all competition.

Elsewhere, Barcelona can also clinch a knockout round spot with victory at the Nou Camp against Borussia Dortmund. Marco Reus is back from injury for Dortmund, but Paco Alcacer is not with the squad to face his former club after suffering a gash to his knee. These two teams played to a 0-0 draw back in mid-September but the German side will know that a draw here could leave them vulnerable in Group F with Inter hot on their trail with a visit to Slavia Prague.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Liverpool v. Napoli
Racing Genk v. Red Bull Salzburg

Group F
Barcelona v. Borussia Dortmund
Slavia Prague v. Inter Milan

Group G
Zenit St. Petersburg v. Olympique Lyonnais (12:55 p.m. ET)
RB Leipzig v. Benfica

Group H
Valencia v. Chelsea (12:55 p.m. ET)
Lille v. Ajax

Report: Man United lead $130 million Sancho chase

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Manchester United is said to be at the front of the queue to sign teenage winger Jadon Sancho.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The England international, 19, has excelled at Borussia Dortmund over the last 18 months but after he was hauled off by BVB coach Lucien Favre in the first half of a humbling defeat at Bayern Munich earlier this month, then criticized by his coach, Sancho’s future has come into discussion once again after previous fallings out with the hierarchy at Dortmund.

Sancho has a host of Europe’s top clubs forming a not so orderly queue to sign him.

Dortmund have admitted many times that he won’t be with them for much longer and a report from The Telegraph claims that Man United believe they are winning the race to sign Sancho this summer.

The former Watford and Man City academy product sensationally left City in 2017 for $10 million in search of first team action and found that almost immediately at Dortmund as he jumped ahead of USMNT star Christian Pulisic as one of the starting wingers for the German giants.

After a fine 2018-19 campaign for Dortmund he’s struggled for consistency this season but has been a regular for Gareth Southgate’s England either off the bench or starting as he’s scored his first Three Lions goals in September and is expected to be a key player for England at EURO 2020 next summer.

Does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer need another young attacker?

United are seriously lacking creativity in the final third and although they have the pace of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial up top, they are missing a player who can knit it all together. Sancho can do that from out wide as he often cuts in to a central role to use his trickery to unlock defenses, and that’s why so many Premier League and top European clubs are chasing him.

Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Chelsea have been mentioned as potential destinations for Sancho should he leave Dortmund but United’s new strategy of signing young, hungry British talents seems to give them the edge, while Sancho knows he will be an automatic starter for the Red Devils as they continue their painful rebuild.

United have the finances to sign Sancho, but does the youngster want to take the huge pressure on his shoulders to try and lead them back to glory?

He seems up for the challenge and has the talent. A frontline of James, Rashford, Martial and Sancho would certainly be a sight to behold over the next decade.

Dortmund captain Marco Reus blasts ‘shameful’ performance

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BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus apologized to angry fans and blasted what he called a “shameful” first-half performance from his side on Friday.

Reus scored in injury time to salvage a 3-3 draw against last-placed Paderborn, but it wasn’t enough to stop irate supporters raging against the players.

Dortmund was three goals down and heading for a second consecutive defeat following its 4-0 loss at Bayern Munich before the international break, before Jadon Sancho scored one and set up Reus’ equalizer after Axel Witsel scored.

“I have no explanation for the first half. No idea what we did there. It was shameful. We must never, ever play like that again,” Reus told broadcaster DAZN.

Dortmund, which started the season with Bundesliga title ambitions, looked far from capable of sustaining a challenge after dropping points for the seventh time in 12 games.

Coach Lucien Favre is coming under increasing pressure, but Reus defended the Swiss tactician and laid all the blame on his teammates.

“We have to speak about it, there’s no other way,” Reus said. “We didn’t just escape with a blue eye – we were really socked. The coach sets us up super. We’re the ones responsible for delivering our performance.”

Streli Mamba stunned the home supporters with Paderborn’s opener in the fifth minute, finishing off a counterattack that began with a Dortmund corner. Kai Pröger outpaced Germany defender Nico Schulz on the right and crossed for Mamba’s simple finish.

Mamba grabbed his second goal on another counterattack in the 37th, prompting a chorus of whistles from the home fans, and it got even worse from a Dortmund point of view when Gerrit Holtmann fired through Roman Bürki’s legs to make it 3-0 in the 43rd.

Paco Alcácer hobbled off before halftime, adding to Dortmund’s woes. Lucien Favre, who already sent on Julian Brandt for the injured Alcácer, reacted with two changes at the break, sending on Thorgan Hazard and Achraf Hakimi for the off-color Schulz and Mahmoud Dahoud.

Sancho pulled one back in the 47th, with Hakimi and Brandt both involved in the buildup.

But Dortmund was looking increasingly desperate and Mamba came close to completing a hat trick before Witsel finally scored the next goal in the 84th.

Sancho profited from a poor clearance to set up Reus in the 92nd.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Where to next for Mauricio Pochettino?

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Following official word of Mauricio Pochettino being relieved of his duties as Tottenham Hotspur manager, we’ve already discussed how things got to this point and who is likely to replace Pochettino. Now it’s time to consider where the Argentine will work next.

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

The public perception — and perhaps honest truth — is that Pochettino faced nearly impossible odds to win trophies at Tottenham due to the financial limitations placed upon him by chairman Daniel Levy, therefore much of the outside world is likely to see Pochettino as still having loads of untapped potential as a manager.

“With the right resources, he could achieve absolutely anything,” the obvious line of thinking will go. Thus, he will almost certainly have his pick of any number of top jobs, depending on whether or not he would like to take a short break from employment and cash the first of many checks which will ultimately pay him more than $16 million to no longer manage Spurs.

[ MORE: Mourinho to replace Poch? ]

A few jobs which are likely to see the managerial post come available in the coming weeks and months, and appeal to a candidate of Pochettino’s caliber (in no particular order)…

  • Manchester United (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) – Man United have severely underperformed in their first 12 games this season (nine points back of fourth place), leading to plenty of speculation that Solskjaer could be fired if the right replacement came available. United reportedly courted Pochettino after Jose Mourinho departed last season, but he remained loyal to Spurs.
  • Bayern Munich (Hans-Dieter Flick, interim) – Niko Kovac was fired earlier this month and the seven-time defending Bundesliga champs currently sit third, four points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern is a squad mixed with veteran and youthful stars, a balance Pochettino might find attractive when considering both the long- and short-term prospects of his next employer.
  • Real Madrid (Zinedine Zidane) – Like United, the links to Madrid have been around for quite some time. While he’ll undoubtedly have far more to work with budget-wise in the Spanish capital, one thing to consider: if Pochettino found working with Levy a challenge, what might he call working for Florentino Perez?
  • Paris Saint-Germain (Thomas Tuchel) – PSG have to be considered anytime a high-profile manager comes available, because they’re not only willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, but they change managers as frequently as anyone. Tuchel isn’t having the best of times (three losses from their first 13 games), though his side still sit eight points clear of the Ligue 1 pack. The league title is in the bag, but PSG’s owners have Champions League ambitions, and Pochettino is only five months removed from managing in that competition’s final.
  • Borussia Dortmund (Lucien Favre) – Dortmund currently sit sixth, though just two points back of second place. Favre’s side crumbled down the stretch when last season’s title was theirs to be lost. This is a job that’s probably only in play if Pochettino decides to take a brief sabbatical, as Dortmund are unlikely to have an itchy trigger finger.
  • Napoli (Carlo Ancelotti) – Napoli spent wildly (by their standards) this summer. Through 12 games all it’s gotten them is seventh place, and Ancelotti has come under fire of late. Much like Spurs when he took that job, Napoli represents a club with plenty of potential — and romantic dreams — which could very well appeal to Pochettino.