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Transfer rumor roundup: Simon to Liverpool, Deulofeu to Watford

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Saying the player has been “heavily scouted” as a backup to Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, The Liverpool Echo says Moses Simon could be the next Liverpool winger.

[ MORE: World Cup stadium guide ]

Simon, 22, is said to have a price tag of approximately $13.5 million following a six-goal, two-assist campaign for Gent in Belgium. He did not make the Nigeria roster for the World Cup with a hip injury, but has 17 caps with three goals.

It’ll cost just a couple million less for Watford to acquire the services of Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona.

The ex-Everton winger, 24, went on loan to the Vicarage Road set in January, scoring a goal in seven league appearances for the Hornets.

Now he may be set for a permanent $11.5 million move, according to Sport.

The other Emmanuel Boateng — and that would only be said on this side of the Atlantic — is thinking big.

The 22-year-old Levante man has said he’s not long for La Liga, sending a message in a bottle to Old Trafford and the Camp Nou.

Speaking recently at a 442gh event, Boateng said: “I always dream big, I see myself playing in one of the great clubs of the world in the next five years. Big clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona excite me.”

Also Ghanaian, this Emmanuel Boateng is two years younger than the diminutive LA Galaxy man. The Levante star scored six goals this La Liga season and has recently made his Ghana national team debut.

Report: U.S. international Kenny Saief joins Anderlecht on loan

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Kenny Saief is back and he’s heading to a popular place in Belgium’s top flight.

On Saturday, the U.S. Men’s National team midfielder joined Anderlecht on loan from fellow Belgian side Gent, while the former does maintain the option to purchase Saief at season’s end.

[ MORE: Barcelona reportedly snag Coutinho for $192 million ]

This season, Saief has appeared in five matches for Gent, prior to completing the loan move to third-place side Anderlecht.

The 24-year-old American made his USMNT debut in the summer of 2017 in a victory against Ghana. He was also tabbed to participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, however, a hernia injury kept Saief out of the squad that won the tournament.

Saief holds both American and Israeli citizenships, and previously played for Israel at the youth level before making a USMNT appearance in 2017.

USMNT’s Saief hospitalized after developing infection from hernia surgery

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Kenny Saief was having a good early portion of his summer after earning a U.S. Men’s National Team call up, but now the Israeli-American will have to miss more time on the pitch.

[ MORE: USMNT huge climbers in latest FIFA world rankings ]

The 23-year-old Gent midfielder went down with a hernia injury in the USMNT’s Gold Cup tune up against Ghana, which required Saief to undergo surgery in July.

After having a successful surgery, though, Saief has developed an infection in the region where the operation took place, according to Israeli news site One.

The report states that Saief was suffering from a high fever before he was taken to Belgium to resolve the situation.

Saief will miss several months as he begins rehabilitation, meaning he’ll be unavailable for Gent as the club continues the early portion of its 2017/18 Jupiler Pro League campaign.

Europa League: Tight first legs in all but one Round of 16 pairing

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There weren’t too many surprises in Thursday’s first legs of the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

Just two visitors won, Anderlecht and Genk, leaving every tie but one realistically up for grabs in one week’s time.

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We’ve already dealt with Manchester United’s 1-1 draw in Russia, and Alexandre Lacazette’s virtuoso performance in Lyon’s defeat of Roma.

Elsewhere, the all-Belgian tie between Gent and Genk ended with five away goals. Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta led the way for Genk, bagging a brace in the 5-2 win.

Ageless Esteban Cambiasso scored as Olympiacos only managed a 1-1 home draw against Vincent Aboubakar and Besiktas, while former Cardiff outcast Andreas Cornelius scored the match-winner as Copenhapen scooped up a 2-1 home win over Ajax.

In-form USMNT winger Fabian Johnson was dangerous again as Borussia Monchengladbach notched an away goal through Jonas Hofmann in a 1-1 draw with Schalke. The match is the second between the three sides in two weeks.

Thursday’s UEFA Europa League first legs

Schalke 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Lyon 4-2 Roma
Gent 2-5 Genk
Olympiacos 1-1 Besiktas
Celta Vigo 2-1 Krasnodar
Rostov 1-1 Manchester United
APOEL 0-1 Anderlecht
Copenhagen 2-1 Ajax

Pogba vs. Pogba and other subplots of PL teams in Europe

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Paul Pogba could face his older brother when the UEFA Europa League begins its Round of 32 on Feb. 16.

That’s one of many subplots, including a chorus of “Give us a break!” from Arsenal supporters, as five Premier League teams are alive in European competition.

[ MORE: Full UCL draw | Europa draw ]


Well, darn. That has to be the take from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has rightly lauded his team’s performance and chances in the UCL this season.

Last season it was Barcelona. Prior to that? Monaco, Bayern again, Bayern a third time, AC Milan, Barcelona. The last time the Gunners won a round in the UCL was the 2009-10 tourney, when they blasted Porto before falling to Barcelona.

Arsenal split with Bayern in last season’s group stage, winning 2-0 at home and losing 5-1 at Allianz Arena.

Manchester City

Given that unseeded City could’ve faced Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, or Juventus, Pep Guardiola will likely be okay with Monaco.

After a disappointing season in the Europa League last season, Monaco will hope to repeat 2014-15’s feat of knocking off a Premier League side in the Round of 16 (Arsenal). Les Rouges et Blancs then took Juventus to the limit over two legs, with just one goal scored between the sides.

Despite hamstring and head injuries, Radamel Falcao has been humming for Monaco. The same Colombian striker who managed very little production for Chelsea and Manchester City has netted 14 times in 16 matches this season.

Leicester City

Nasri has three goals for Sevilla (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images).

The Foxes get tournament-tested Sevilla, although Europa League threepeat mastermind Unai Emery is now with Paris Saint-Germain.

There are a lot of familiar names in the Sevilla side, with Samir Nasri, Steven N’Zonzi, Mariano, and Vitolo.

Still, with names of its own in Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, and Jamie Vardy, Leicester has a decent shot to break down the Spanish challenge. And the duo of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth has broken down 1-forward formations a time or two.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs will like their chances of heading to the next round, with current Belgian fifth place side Gent.

De Buffalo’s did advance to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 last season, finishing ahead of Valencia and Lyon before bowing out to Wolfsburg.

Florida-born winger Kenny Saief is one of Gent’s best threats, the Israeli national team man nabbing five goals and three assists this season.

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho’s men have a fairly simple path to the next round of European competition, duking it out with offensively-challenged Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne.

While ASSE is led by a clever boss in Christophe Galtier, the side is eighth in France and has trouble manufacturing goals (17 in 17 domestically; 11 in 10 in Europe). Their leading scorer in France, Robert Beric, has a grand total of three goals.

A fun subplot sees United midfielder Paul Pogba potentially going head-to-head, literally, with his older brother: ASSE centerback Florentin Pogba. Florentin hasn’t been a fixture in Ligue 1, but went 90 minutes in five of six UEL group stage matches.

Follow @NicholasMendola