Lille

Getty Images

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Europa League fallout for Arsenal, Chelsea

2 Comments

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.

Transfer rumor roundup: Pepe to Arsenal, Lo Celso in demand

Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Here’s the Tuesday morning transfer buzz after a holiday weekend in America:

[ MORE: La Liga match fixing arrests ]

Arsenal target Nicolas Pepe leaving Lille is beyond certain. Just ask his manager.

“Nicolas will leave not 100 percent, but 150 percent,” said Christophe Gaither. “Can a footballer be prevented from going to a great European team? It is impossible.”

Pepe’s 11 assists were joint-second in Ligue 1 this season, and only Kylian Mbappe scored more league goals than his 22.

The 33 combined markers mean Pepe was involved in nearly half of second-place Lille’s 68 goals.

Pepe, 23, will fetch a fortune on the transfer market. Is Arsenal willing to spend enough to give Unai Emery another big playmaker? More importantly, will they outspend teams like Inter Milan?

Meanwhile, Spurs continue to be linked with playmakers. In addition to potential interest in Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez, the North Londoners are said to have put in a $67 million bid for Giovani Lo Celso.

The Real Betis starred on loan from Paris Saint-Germain and has a release clause of approximately $111 million, so there’s probably going to be some haggling here.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are also being matched with the Spaniard.

Finally, Edinson Cavani is ready to make a move to La Liga and join Atletico Madrid should Diego Simeone’s men sell Diego Costa. Atleti is also being linked with Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell, and just announced the $25 million signing of center back Felipe from Porto.

Lille moves a step closer to Champions League qualification

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) As its prolific attack came to life in the second half, Lille routed Nimes 5-0 in the French league on Sunday to strengthen its grip on second place and automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.

After former France forward Loic Remy put Lille ahead in the 51st minute, forward Jonathan Bamba headed in the second goal and defender Zeki Celik made it 3-0 before top scorer Nicolas Pepe grabbed his 20th league goal of the season.

Only PSG striker Kylian Mbappe, with 30, has scored more than Pepe. Portuguese forward Rui Fonte scored in injury time with his first of the campaign.

Lille is six points ahead of third-place Lyon with four games remaining. The team finishing third goes into the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Later Sunday, fourth-place Saint-Etienne faced Toulouse and fifth-place Marseille hosted Nantes.

OTHER MATCHES

A hat trick came from a surprise source as defender Youcef Atal showed his scoring touch in Nice’s 3-0 home win against Guingamp.

The pacey and skillful right back got his second goal of the game midway through the second half, following a surging run from just inside the Guingamp half, and then slid in at the back post to complete his hat trick with a typical striker’s finish in the 73rd.

Nice climbed into seventh place and Reims dropped to eighth after drawing 1-1 at Angers.

Elsewhere, Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a game in the French first division when she took charge of the 0-0 draw between Amiens and Strasbourg.

Caen beat Dijon 1-0 in their relegation battle, leapfrogging Dijon into 18th, the promotion-relegation playoff spot.

PSG UPSET

Mbappe was sent off for making a dangerous challenge during the French Cup final on Saturday. PSG threw away a 2-0 lead to lose on penalty kicks to Rennes .

Neymar appeared to aim a punch at a fan filming and goading PSG’s players as the players walked up to collect their losers’ medals.

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

PSG wins French league after second-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

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

Monaco slows down Lille’s Champions League bid with 1-0 win

AP
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Monaco boosted its chances of staying up and slowed down Lille’s bid for an automatic Champions League place with a 1-0 away win on Friday.

Brazilian striker Carlos Vinicius pounced in the last minute to move Monaco up to 16th place in the French league and keep Lille under pressure in the fight for second.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 score, schedule

Third-place Lyon can close the gap to four points with a home win against seventh-place Montpellier on Sunday, after which both sides have nine games left.

In Friday’s other game, eighth-place Nice conceded a last-gasp equalizer in a 1-1 home draw with 14th-place Toulouse.

As so often this season, Nice played without a recognized center forward and midfielder Wylan Cyprien opened the scoring midway through the first half with a free kick from 30 meters (33 yards) out. Striker Firmin Mubele equalized in the 89th minute for Toulouse, which moved further away from the danger zone.

Meanwhile, runaway league leader Paris Saint-Germain remains 17 points clear of Lille despite playing two games less, and is even closer to another title after Lille’s stumble.

PSG hosts bitter rival Marseille on Sunday, with only the title and the French Cup to focus on following its surprise elimination from the Champions League.

Marseille has found form since the arrival of striker Mario Balotelli from Nice. He has netted five times in seven games to help the club into fourth place.

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