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transfer rumor roundup
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Transfer rumor roundup: Liverpool after Leeds engine, Everton chase AZ mid

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Merseyside is the place to be for Sunday’s transfer rumors.

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Sky Sports reports on a rumor linking Everton with a move for AZ Alkmaar star Teun Koopmeiners for around $15 million.

Koopmeiners, 22, has yet to make his full Netherlands debut but has represented the nation at every level between 17 and 21.

He has 26 goals and 10 assists for AZ in 110 career appearances including a career-best 16 and three in 42 this season.

He went 180 minutes over two matches versus Manchester United in the Europa League, though neither he nor his team registered a goal or assist.

There’s another new target on Merseyside, this time the red side, according to The Birmingham Mail.

Liverpool has entered the race to sign Kalvin Phillips, though the homegrown Leeds United product may want to stay with his boyhood club upon probable promotion to the Premier League.

The price tag is said to be $37 million, with Aston Villa unable to meet the valuation but the Reds capable of doing so.

Phillips, 24, has played almost 3,000 minutes for Leeds this season and is two seasons removed from a seven goals season (He has only two since). He has 11 goals and 10 assists for his career.

Liverpool’s defensive midfield ranks include Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, the latter having the best year of his career, but Phillips has box-to-box capabilities so he could also fit the bill in the Georginio Wijnaldum or Naby Keita roles.

Phillips is having a marvelous year as the engine for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, averaging 2.8 interceptions per match along with 1.3 clearances and 1.3 interceptions. Could Leeds hang onto him into the PL, because he fits the Jurgen Klopp bill quite nicely .

10 soccer movies you need to watch

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Now, we all need plenty of things to watch to keep us going through the current coronavirus pandemic and here are 10 soccer movies you should add to your list.

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With no live games going on across the vast majority of the world right now, it feels good to at least watch soccer of some kind.

Below are trailers and explainers on 10 movies which differ vastly. From serious documentaries to comedies, we have you covered. There’s something for everyone in the list below. Trust me.

In no particular order, let’s take a look at which soccer movies are essential viewing.


Maradona

Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna, has produced the best-ever documentary on Diego Armando Maradona. There have been plenty of films which have detailed one of the greatest players in the history of the game but this is just stunning. Kapadia had hundreds of hours of never before seen footage and this docudrama focuses on Maradona’s tumultuous spell at Napoli when he delivered to Serie A titles and was beloved by Neapolitans across the globe. But, like most things in his life, his genius on the pitch got him into trouble off it. Watch this. You will not regret it. One of the great soccer movies ever made.

Escape to Victory

Pele. Check. Bobby Moore. Check. Michael Caine. Check. Sylvester Stallone. Check. Need I say more? Perhaps the greatest soccer movie in history. Escape to Victory (which is known officially as Victory) is set in France during the Second World War and focuses on a team of star players playing against the German army amid the background of (you guessed it) an escape. Stallone’s antics as star goalkeeper, Pele’s bicycle kick and a rallying cry from Caine are just some of the great moments from this classic movie.

Damned United

Brian Clough is perhaps the greatest manager England has ever produced. He won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest and league titles with Forest and rivals Derby County and did it all while making everyone laugh. This movie, starring Michael Sheen, focuses on his infamous 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United. Sabotage, player revolts and tremendous team talks. Just like the outspoken genius that was Brian Clough, this is top-notch entertainment.

We Must Go

An incredible documentary on Bob Bradley taking charge of the Egyptian national team after being fired by the USMNT in 2011. Amid the uprising against the government in Egypt, the Port Said massacre and huge unrest, people were united by one thing: Egypt reaching the 2014 World Cup for the first time in 24 years. This story about Bradley and his young team coming so close to their goal is emotional, dramatic and full of poignant moments. A reminder that Bradley, the current LAFC head coach, is the bravest coach in American soccer history.

Bend it Like Beckham

Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra star as aspiring young female players in London as their team, against all the odds, prove they belong. A truly uplifting movie as curling free kicks like David Beckham’s famed right foot is still the main aim for every young English girl and boy growing up.

She’s the Man

Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum star in this comedy about high school soccer as Bynes pretends she is a boy to play on the varsity team but there is plenty of drama along the way. Another inspirational story about women proving antiquated attitudes are no longer welcome in the beautiful game.

Mike Bassett: England manager

Think of every single British soccer cliche you can. Okay? Put that in a movie with plenty of British comedy actors and it is hilarious. Not one of the most intellectual soccer movies out there but Ricky Tomlinson (who plays Mike Bassett) plays the part perfectly. Who would be the manager of England!?

Kicking and Screaming

Will Ferrell is a rising figure in the soccer world as part-owner at LAFC and this movie is a lovely crossover between his comedy genius and his love for the game. Coaching a team of underdogs which includes his young son, Ferrell transforms into a coach who is consumed by the game. Was this the inspiration for Ted Lasso?

United

The tragic story of the 1958 Munch Air Disaster is told in a compelling and gripping manner, as Manchester United’s famous Busby Babes are still revered to this day. One of the greatest teams English soccer has ever seen, the plane carrying United home from their European Cup clash at Partizan Belgrade crashed in Munich, Germany over a stop. Star players perished as the grief was felt by the entire soccer world.

One Night in Turin

Every single England fan out there will tell you they should have won the World Cup in 1990. Paul Gascogine’s tears. Gary Lineker’s goals. More penalty kick heartache. This was typical England. Set against the backdrop of hooliganism on the rise in England once again, Sir Bobby Robson led his unfancied Three Lions squad to the brink of their first World Cup final since 1966.

Championship Focus: West Brom, Leeds improve promotion chances with wins

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By no means is the race for promotion within the Championship sealed and delivered, but West Brom and Leeds United continue to add to their lead on the rest of the pack.

Despite playing the final 13 minutes down a player after Romaine Sawyers saw a straight red card, the Baggies went on to earn a formidable 3-0 win over Bristol City.

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Sheffield United loanee Callum Robinson opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, while Hal Robsun-Kanu sealed his brace with 11 minutes left in regular time. With the victory, Wes Brom extends their league unbeaten streak to five matches, and their total point to 66.

At Elland Road, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United registered their first back-to-back wins since October, following a minimal-margin victory over Reading. Leeds holds a five-point cushion on third-place Fulham.

Meanwhile, with goals quick fire goals from Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne over a four-minute stretch against an aching Hull City, Preston moved into play-off contention.

Saturday’s results

Brentford 2-2 Blackburn
Bristol City 0-3 West Brom
Swansea City 3-1 Huddersfield
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Millwall
Barnsley 1-0 Middlesbrough
Birmingham 3-3 Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest 0-0 QPR
Preston 2-1 Hull City
Charlton 3-1 Luton Town
Stoke City 2-0 Cardiff City
Leeds United 1-0 Reading

Championship Focus: Promotion favorites West Brom, Fulham drop points; Leeds earn vital win

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Despite major activity on Saturday, little change took place at the top of the Championship table, with only second-place Leeds United managing to earn three points out of all the top-seven sides.

Luke Ayling’s goal in the 16th minute was the lone goal in Leeds’ one-sided match against Bristol City.

Leaders West Brom, who are now only hold a four-point lead on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, gave up a leveling stoppage-time goal to fifth-place Nottingham Forest at the Hawthorns.

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Matty Cash’s injury-time strike, snaps the Baggies three-match winning streak and hands them their 12th draw of the season.

No other performance caught eyes as much as bottom-dwellers Barnsley’s 3-0 thumping of third-place Fulham. It’s Fulham’s first 3-0 loss since mid-November – a 3-0 defeat to Hull City.

Barnsley midfield orchestrator Cauley Woodrow bagged a brace, while Jacob Brown added his own six minutes into the second half as the last place side earned just their sixth win of the season.

Saturday’s results

West Brom 2-2 Nottingham Forest
Leeds United 1-0 Bristol City
Cardiff City 2-2 Wigan Athletic
Birmingham 1-1 Brentford
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield
Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Reading
Birmingham 1-1 Brentford
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield
Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Reading
Charlton 0-2 Blackburn
Fulham 0-3 Barnsley
Preston 0-1 Millwall
Middlesbrough 0-1 Luton Town
QPR 4-2 Stoke City

The race for Premier League promotion is red hot

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With the top flight title race fading fast as Liverpool pummels the Premier League into oblivion in record fashion, an appreciation can be had for what the Reds are accomplishing. That is for another time.

For now, we are going to take a moment to appreciate the race below them. There is a red-hot battle for Premier League promotion that is tighter than we’ve seen in a while.

Y’all, the Championship is LIT.

West Brom sits atop the league with 59 points from 31 matches, and the Baggies seem a solid bet to make their way back to the Premier League after a short one-season dip. Below them, a battle rages that could even threaten the top dogs should West Brom slip even a little.

[ MORE: Chelsea closes in on Ziyech deal ]

Leeds United sits second, occupying an automatic promotion position as they have for most season. That may change today. As Leeds stands on 56 points after its draw with Brentford yesterday, Fulham lurks just a point back, and with a match today against fellow Londoners Millwall, a win for the Whites would see them knock Leeds off the top two for the first time since early November.

Behind Fulham is Brentford with 54 points, level with fifth-placed Nottingham Forest and only ahead thanks to its league-best +27 goal differential. Yes, you read that right, the league leader in goal differential is in fourth.

Preston North End in sixth and Bristol City in seventh are each level on 50, meaning the gap from second to seventh is a measly six points. Things could get truly insane down the stretch.

Of the top seven teams, five of them have lost at least once in their last five matches, with only Fulham and Preston owning pristine form of late. West Brom had lost just once all Championship season until the holidays hit and suddenly they’ve dropped three of their last seven. Leeds is facing a full-on collapse, having won just twice since mid-December and losing four of its last six, with just four points gained in that span. Fulham is in good form with four wins in its last five, but they are living on the edge having skated by via a one-goal margin in each of their last seven victories and 10 of their last 11. Brentford would be formidable if the Bees could figure out their road form, with six of their nine losses coming away from Griffin Park. Nottingham Forest can’t get out of its own way, following up a signature 2-0 win over Leeds with a 1-0 gack attack at home to 21st placed Charlton Athletic last time out.

All this mayhem makes each match critically important – and therefore tense as hell. Fulham today could move into an automatic qualifying spot with a win, but if they fail to beat Millwall, it could open them to fall as far as fifth. If this pace keeps up, theoretically a team that had a shot to finish with an automatic qualifying spot could end up out of the playoffs altogether with a few poor results late in the season. Building room for error in the next month or two will be critical for teams that wish to have a chance down the stretch.

There are some critical matches coming up as well. West Brom plays Nottingham Forest on Saturday that has a make-or-break feel to it for both sides, especially the Baggies who then have Bristol City next. Leeds plays Bristol City on Saturday hoping to put a finger in the leaky dike. Fulham has a three-game stretch through March that sees them play Bristol City, Brentford, and Leeds looking to prove they belong. As you can see, the Robins have a ton of chances to yank themselves up the table.

For some of these teams like West Brom and Fulham, they are looking to return to the Premier League after short spells down below. For many of the teams fighting for promotion, however, fans are hoping to see their beloved clubs crack the top flight for the first time in quite a while. Leeds United, a storied club that qualified for the Champions League with a third-place finish in 2000, hasn’t been back since relegation in 2003. Another storied club, Forest has not been back to the Premier League since dumped in 1999. Three clubs have never been in the Premier League: Bristol City was relegated from the First Division back in 1979, Preston hasn’t seen top-flight action since 1961, and Brentford hasn’t been in the top flight since 1947 with just five total top flight seasons in club history.

There are still battles to be won in the English top flight, with teams like Chelsea, Tottenham, and Sheffield United battling for a Champions League place while others further down the table fight for their Premier League lives. Still, the race for promotion is proving to be a wild and crazy one just a few blocks down the road.