Bouna Sarr

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Kurzawa to Arsenal, Belotti chased by Man United

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A host of news from France on this Friday.

Arsenal is on the brink of signing Paris Saint-Germain wide player Layvin Kurzawa on a five-year deal, according to an obscure Spanish report that has been picked up by a number of tabloids in England, including the Evening Standard. Todo Fichades reports that Kurzawa has been unable to reach an agreement with PSG on a new contract, and with his current deal expiring in the summer, he is set to sign with the Gunners on a free transfer.

Kurzawa, a 27-year-old left-back with 13 caps for the French international team, is a versatile player who can play along the back line or can push further up the left flank. Kurzawa’s frustrations with PSG stem from a lack of playing time, used sparingly this season to the tune of 14 Ligue 1 appearances, losing minutes to the likes of Juan Bernat and Abdou Diallo at left-back for much of the campaign.

The report states that while the deal is close, it may not be announced until the end of the season.

According to Italian publication Tuttosport, Manchester United and Everton are chasing Torino striker Andrea Belotti who has a $109 million release clause. While the Premier League sides are interested in pursuing the Italian international, there is a sense of urgency given his contract could be renegotiated which could affect the status of his release clause. His current contract expires in the summer of 2022. Still, while the 26-year-old does have 27 caps for Italy to his name, his goalscoring numbers have fallen this season from the 15 he bagged last campaign, and he hasn’t come close to matching the 26 he scored in 2016/17.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Italian connections could make Everton a main player, especially since the Toffees have failed to secure a talismanic goalscorer since the days of Romelu Lukaku. That price tag is high, however, and Torino has successfully kept hold of Belotti since acquiring him from Palermo in the summer of 2015.

A number of reports in the last few days have tabbed West Ham as a major player for Marseille defender Bouna Sarr, with 28-year-old right-back wanted by Atletico Madrid as well. Foot Mercado in France (via Get French Football News) states that Sevilla as well as an unnamed German side are all in the mix, giving the Hammers some competition. 27-year-old Ryan Fredericks currently occupies the starting spot at West Ham having arrived from Fulham this past summer, but West Ham could capitalize given that Marseille could be forced to sell for as little as $7.5 million with GFFN calling the French side’s financial situation “tricky.”

Finally, sticking in France, Lille president Gerard Lopez has said that center-back Gabriel is likely on his way out, although he did not name an interested team. “It’s true that he would like to go and try something else out,” Lopez said, according to Sky Sports. “We haven’t taken that decision yet, but he’s received a number of offers. I feel he’s closer to one club than others, but nothing’s done yet so we’ll see.”

Top European teams roll in domestic Cup action

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Manchester City advanced in the Carabao Cup despite losing to Manchester United, but otherwise most top teams across Europe advanced in domestic Cup action with little trouble.

Real Madrid hammered Real Zaragoza 4-0 in the Copa del Rey behind four different goalscorers. Raphael Varane opened the scoring just six minutes in, and it was elementary from that point on. Lucas Vazquez doubled the lead past the half-hour mark, while Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema tacked on goals inside the final 20 minutes. The Vinicius goal was the pick of the lot, poking home the finish with the outside of his foot. Zaragoza held its own in front of net, actually out-shooting Madrid 15-13, but only put three of its 15 efforts on target and struggled to cope with Madrid’s ruthlessness in front of net, and overall it was just too easy for the La Liga leaders who advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition.

In other Copa del Rey scores, defending champions Valencia needed penalties to pass by Segunda Division side Cultural Leonesa after a 0-0 draw. Santi Cazorla scored as Villareal topped Rayo Vallecano 2-0, with both Villareal goals coming inside the final 10 minutes of the match.

In France, both Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille advanced by two-goal margins, also moving into the quarterfinals.

PSG started a second-choice eleven against third-tier Pau and worked a 2-0 victory behind goals from Pablo Sarabia and Leandro Paredes. Mauro Icardi led the lines for PSG supported by the likes of Julian Draxler and Eric Maxim Chupo-Moting, while Ander Herrera held down the midfield.

Marseille topped fellow Ligue 1 challengers Strasbourg 3-1 with Dimitri Payet on the scoresheet alongside Bouna Sarr and Boubacar Kamara. It was tight through the end until Kamara put the game away in the 95th minute. Payet’s goal came from the spot, while Sarr’s opener just past the half-hour mark featured a dizzying, sparkling run through the penalty area past three defenders before finishing with the left foot.

Inter had a tougher task, squeaking by Fiorentina 2-1 to reach the semifinals of the Coppa Italia. Antonio Candreva poached a goal in the 44th minute on a goalmouth scramble to put Inter in front, and while Fiorentina drew level on the hour mark off a corner, Nicolo Barella delivered a venomous blast seven minutes later to seal the win. The match featured the debut of Christian Eriksen off the bench, seeing time on the field alongside four other former Premier League players for Inter in starters Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, and Ashley Young plus substitute Victor Moses.

The one side that fell in disappointing fashion was French club Lille who slumped to a 2-1 defeat to fourth-tier side SAS Epinal. Former Chelsea striker Loic Remy scored just eight minutes into the match to put Lille in front early, but the minnows managed a pair of second-half goals from Jean-Phillipe Krasso to pull off the enormous upset.

The only top European league that did not feature any domestic Cup action this week was Germany, whose DFB-Pokal is still in the Round of 16. Those matches will take place next week with RB Leipzig taking on Eintracht Frankfurt while Bayern Munich hosts Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen meets Stuttgart, Schalke hosts Hertha BSC, and Borussia Dortmund visits Werder Bremen.

PSG issues Neymar injury update; Silva claims Marseille targeted star

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Pretty heavy charges lay at the feet of Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet, as PSG announced that Neymar has a sprained ankle and broken metatarsal.

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The Paris Saint-Germain captain claims that Payet and his teammates aimed to hurt Neymar in the lead-up to the seemingly innocuous exchange that ultimately sent the megastar off the field on the stretcher.

His basis? Silva says Payet told the referee as much:

“It’s a shame. Payet said to the referee that he wanted to hurt. That is not football.”

French radio station RMC claimed Payet told referee Benoit Bastien: “Tell Neymar to calm down or we are going to take care of him.”

Now Neymar’s injury came without contact — typically worse for the severity of the injury — and after he snuck his studs onto Bouna Sarr’s leg, but there’s no question the Brazilian was being hunted (There’s embellishment in the below video, but also clear tactical fouling).

PSG plays Marseille again on Wednesday in the French Cup before a league match at Troyes and a first leg with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.