Gonzalo Higuaín

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Europa League fallout for Arsenal, Chelsea

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With the Europa League final complete and Chelsea reigning supreme, there is plenty of fallout to come with the Blues back in the Champions League and Arsenal failing to seal the deal.

For Arsenal, the blow could be heavy. The club is strapped for cash now headed for its third straight season in the Europa League, and they allowed 28-year-old Aaron Ramsey to depart this summer for free, a financial failure that could have serious consequences.

According to a report by The Mirror, manager Unai Emery is hoping to overhaul the squad this summer, but his job will be difficult given the financial constraints of failing to reach the Champions League. He could be forced to sell assets to generate cash, and while Arsenal fans may be happy to see the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil on the list of players who could depart this summer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could reportedly also be sacrificed in the process. The report states that the wage bill may actually be a bigger obstacle to the club’s acquisition power than transfer funds, yet still there may only be around $50 million for Emery to play with this summer.

Players like Ozil and Mustafi could generate a decent cash flow, but they have underperformed the last few seasons, and Ozil especially has wages that could limit the club’s ability to shop him. The report states that Inter Milan could be a possible destination with possible new manager Antonio Conte hoping to boost the attack.


For Chelsea, their summer is also in question, despite securing Champions League play. The Blues have a potential transfer ban hanging over their heads, and the impending decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have an enormous impact on their proceedings over the next few months.

Regardless of the decision, however, it looks as if Eden Hazard has played his final game in Chelsea blue, and the rumors continue to churn of his departure for Real Madrid. English tabloids have stated that Hazard is off to Real Madrid for an enormous $145 million fee, although that seems unlikely as reports consistently stated over the last few weeks that Los Blancos were holding firm to their $125 million ceiling and that Chelsea would likely concede to that amount due to Hazard’s contract situation.

Should Chelsea be able to replace Hazard this summer and the ban is lifted or delayed, the Blues could look to a former Premier League star to take over. Philippe Coutinho has had a horrible first year at Barcelona, and it seems the club is shopping him to various interested parties. Chelsea could be a perfect landing spot for Coutinho and they could secure him far below market value after his disastrous season at the Camp Nou. Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo claims that Chelsea would be in pole position to secure Coutinho should the CAS allow the club to sign players this summer, and while Manchester United is interested, their lack of Champions League play this season sees them at a serious disadvantage.

Chelsea could also secure the permanent signatures of current loanees Mateo Kovacic and Gonzalo Higuain whether the club is banned from transfer acquisitions or not, as they are both already registered with the club. Kovacic, a Real Madrid player out on loan, could likely be secured on a permanent deal separate from the Hazard negotiation. Higuain, meanwhile, may wait to see if Maurizio Sarri is confirmed as the Chelsea manager next season before he commits his future to Stamford Bridge.


According to Mundo Deportivo in a report that corroborates earlier reporting in the English tabloids, Manchester United is seriously considering a massive offer to free agent midfielder Adrien Rabiot. The Red Devils are reportedly set to offer Rabiot an $12.5 million signing bonus and wages of around $220,000 a week or about $11.5 million a season, which would match the demands he’s stuck to in negotiations over the past few months.

The report states that with other top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus unwilling to meet his high financial demands, Rabiot could find United’s offer intriguing. Rabiot, a 24-year-old French midfielder, has had major character issues in the past at both the club and country levels, but his play on the field as a top box-to-box midfielder is helping offset the questions about his personality. Should Manchester United bring Rabiot on, he could directly challenge Paul Pogba for a spot in the team, or even serve as a Pogba replacement should he depart this summer as rumors have suggested over the past few months.


24-year-old Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe is a wanted man this summer, and while he has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks, Liverpool has also entered the fray, according to Sunday Times reporter Duncan Castles on the Team Talk podcast. Castles said that Liverpool “has been in contact” with Lille still waiting on anything official to come through. Castles says that Lille has been quite public about an asking price in the range of $89 million for the Ivory Coast international who just appears to be entering his prime.

Pepe scored 22 Ligue 1 goals this season which put him second on the campaign behind PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe. He helped Lille finish a stunning second in the league table, qualifying the club for Champions League play for the first time since 2012. Manchester United is in desperate need of reinforcements all over the pitch, but could miss out if Champions League play is a priority to Pepe who has never played in the competition. Still, Liverpool may pass on any players that cost such a hefty amount, as their squad is already one of the strongest in Europe and may not require such a massive cost to add missing pieces.

Biggest flops of the Premier League season

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We’ll try not to be too harsh as our review of the Premier League season continues with the most disappointing performances of 2018-19.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal ]

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham ]


— Fulham — You can’t pin it on any single manager, nor a single transfer flop. There was just something around Craven Cottage that didn’t allow the men to mesh on the big stage. Andre Schurrle petered out, Alfie Mawson stumbled when healthy, Jean-Michael Seri wasn’t as advertised, and Claudio Ranieri couldn’t summon any saviors after Slavisa Jokanovic also failed to find the right chemistry.

— Max Meyer, Crystal Palace — The 23-year-old just couldn’t quite adapt after being hailed by many including us as a remarkable free transfer from Schalke.

— Gonzalo Higuain, Chelsea — Part of this blame lives with us: The expectation that came with Maurizio Sarri‘s favored man arriving to make good on the failures of Alvaro Morata was too high; Higuain finished with five goals in 1100 minutes.

— Mohamed Elyounoussi, Southampton — Maybe his Premier League adjustment will come in Season Two, but zero goals and plenty of days outside the Saints’ 18 hardly make for good value.

Fred, Manchester United — Cost the Red Devils about $3.5 million per league appearance. Shoulder shrug emoji, as Pep Guardiola also reportedly viewed the Brazilian as a fix for his midfield.

— David De Gea, Manchester United — While not a new signing, the Red Devils’ perennial savior was not close to his standards in 2018-19. In fact, the Spaniard was basically league average and couldn’t bail out his defenders (which underscores Jose Mourinho’s assertion regarding their quality).

Chelsea misfires in draw with Leicester City on final day (video)

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The Blues had chances throughout, but Gonzalo Higuain and Ross Barkley both had bad misses as Chelsea ends the campaign on a goalless battle with Leicester City. The Foxes were up for the task as well, but also couldn’t put together a winning moment.

Ross Barkley got through in the opening minutes, but his shot clattered straight into the face of Kasper Schmeichel who made himself big in the one-on-one. Chelsea was forced to wait until the 28th minute for its next good chance, but Gonzalo Higuain fired just wide right after finding space at the top of the box.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester City, dangerous throughout, came incredibly close just before the break thanks to a David Luiz slip that allowed the hosts in on a two-on-one, but Jamie Vardy‘s feed for Youri Tielemans was too heavy, and it ruined the opportunity leaving the Belgian extended to the end line.

Somehow, Higuain found a way to miss right in front of net on the stroke of halftime, making a complete mess of a cross on a platter by bundling the ball wide right on the doorstep. It was a horrid miss from the Argentine who failed to sort out his feet with the goal begging two yards away.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Leicester remained threatening all second half, forcing the Blues to defend on numerous occasions. Ben Chillwell made a blistering run with 15 minutes to go, bursting down the left but his cross came too late and was cut out by David Luiz. Eden Hazard looked to have found the breakthrough receiving the ball from Ruben Loftus-Cheek at the penalty area, but he was bundled over by Jonny Evans and somehow the referee did not point to the spot.

The draw, along with Spurs’ shared spoils against Everton, sees Chelsea finish third with 72 points, a solid position given Sarri’s occasional struggles and the dominance of the top two teams. Leiciester City, meanwhile, ends the campaign in ninth on 55 points, the lowest finishing team with a positive goal differential.

Higuain retires from international play with Argentina

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Gonzalo Higuain’s much-maligned international career has come to an end.

The on-loan Chelsea forward revealed in an televised interview on Thursday with Fox Sports Argentina that “my cycle is already over” with the Argentine National Team.

“For the joy of many and not so many, my cycle is already done, as other teammates have also done so,” Higuain said, referring to Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia also announcing their international retirements within the last year. “You can stop worrying if I am in (the national team) or not, to take care of those who are or are going to come for the good of the national team. I want to enjoy my family.”

Higuain revealed that he received an email from Argentina interim manager Lionel Scaloni about joining the squad for Argentina’s two friendly matches in Europe and Africa this month, but Higuain declined the opportunity. Higuain has been the subject of some serious – and sometimes over the top – criticism from Argentina fans for his failures to live up to the big moments in finals. Higuain and Argentina played in three straight finals in three successive years, falling in all of them. Higuain missed terrific goal-scoring chances in each game, leading to much derision.

Argentina fell to Germany, 1-0 in extra time at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and then lost to Chile in successive Copas America, first in 2015 in Chile and next in the U.S. in 2016.

Higuain made just one start for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup as Argentina crashed out of the tournament to France. Per Soccerway, Higuain finishes his time with Argentina with 33 goals in 75 appearances. It’s a successful record of nearly one goal every two games, yet Higuain will likely be remembered more for his misses than makes, something he understood in the interview.

I’ll tell you that it is very difficult,” Higuain said. “In Argentina, what you can’t do is more valued than what you can. I think goals in qualifying are also important and they are given less value.”

The news is ultimately positive for Chelsea, or wherever Higuain will play his club soccer in the future, as he’ll be able to solely focus on his club career instead of flying across the world to take part in games. Higuain’s departure helps keep an opening for Inter Milan’s exciting young forward Lautaro Martinez, who scored for Argentina last week in its 3-1 defeat to Venezuela and looks like the next big thing out of the soccer-mad nation.

Hazard rescues point for Chelsea v. Wolves (video)

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  • Wolves score on lone shot on target
  • Jimenez nabs 6th in last seven PL matches
  • Hazard scores beauty in stoppage time
  • Chelsea remains 6th, Wolves 7th

Eden Hazard‘s vicious stoppage time strike gave Chelsea a point against visiting Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Raul Jimenez’s 12th Premier League goal for Wolves looked to have engineered a season sweep of the Blues.

Wolves take a one-point lead on Watford in the race for seventh in the Premier League, while Chelsea will finish the day at least one point back of fourth.

Wolves beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Molineux earlier this season, with Jimenez and Diogo Jota scoring in the win.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There wasn’t a lot to write home about in the sluggish first half.

Raul Jimenez was fortunate not to concede a penalty for a handball, and a Wolves handball stopped Diogo Jota’s goal from counting later in the period.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The second half began with more invention, Gonzalo Higuain seeing a shot blocked and Eden Hazard winning a free kick a yard outside the box that David Luiz blazed off the wall for a corner.

Yet that’s when Wolves struck, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez leading a counter attack down the right which ended with the in-form Mexican hitting a shot that deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Higuain then won a corner with a hard drive that was seemingly headed wide, but N'Golo Kante mishit the resulting chance. Then Pedro was thwarted by Rui Patricio before Higuain couldn’t tap in at the back post.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek won a central free kick a few yards outside the arc, and Willian‘s effort was pushed over the goal by the wall.

Loftus-Cheek’s stoppage time bid to equalize was partially blocked for a corner kick, and the Blues took advantage of the second ensuing set piece.

That’s when Hazard lashed a shot from the edge of the 18 that zipped across goal and inside the far post.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]