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Cavani ‘will go to Atletico Madrid’ if PSG let him leave

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Edinson Cavani has made up his mind and knows which club he will join this month — if Paris Saint-Germain agree to sell, that is — according to the Uruguayan striker’s father.

[ MORE: Chelsea admit they miss Christian Pulisic ]

Cavani has standing offers to join multiple clubs during the January transfer window, most notably from Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, but the most difficult hurdle appears to be convincing PSG to let him go. According to the player’s father, Luis, Atleti is the 32-year-old’s preferred destination — quotes from Sky Sports:

“He wants to join another club in Europe. That would please me that he plays here (at Atletico), yes. (Diego) Simeone wants him now (in January). The head coach of Paris Saint-Germain has also said he needs him to help compete in the Champions League.

“But PSG do not want him to go to Atletico Madrid if he finds an agreement. I think there is a strong chance he will go to Atletico, the option to join the club (Atletico) always remains in June.

“There are lots of other clubs but when you give your word to a team, you respect it. If tomorrow, if he is available and Atletico still want him, I think he will sign. He is a player who needs time to play, and today he only plays four or six minutes per game. PSG are treating him unfairly.”

Chelsea’s desire to acquire a goalscorer of Cavani’s caliber will have only increased following the ankle injury suffered by Tammy Abraham, the Blues’ only consistent option at the position, during Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal. The severity of Abraham’s injury is not yet known.

Mbappe lavishes praise on Liverpool

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The calls are growing for Kylian Mbappe to join Liverpool and these comments will add further fuel to the fire.

Mbappe, 21, has called Liverpool a ‘machine’ as the Paris Saint-German and France star continues to be linked with a move to Anfield in 2020. That’s right, this summer, and that is why #Mbappe2020 is trending pretty much every day.

Speaking to the BBC, Mbappe was asked about Liverpool’s incredible season as they sit 16 points clear atop the Premier League with a game in hand.

“What Liverpool do in this moment is amazing,” Mbappe said. “They’re like a machine, they’ve found a rhythm and are like ‘we play again, we play again’. They’ve lost zero games. When you watch you think everything’s easy but that’s not easy. The guys are focused, they play games every three days and they win, they win, they win. Now the problem is that everybody watches Liverpool, and everybody watches what we can do against them, so now they have to show they are strong again but it’s a very good team with a very good manager.”

Could Liverpool afford Mbappe? It will likely cost them a world-record fee of over $250 million and it would be unlike Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff to spend that amount on a player who already looks the finished article.

Instead their recruitment policy is mostly about buyng players who they can improve into top talents. See: Mane, Sadio. Robertson, Andrew. Wijnaldum, Georginio, to name just a few. However, Liverpool have shown they will spend big if the right players comes along as Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson proved.

Signing Mbappe would be on another level altogether and PSG would not want to lose the French superstar as Real Madrid also push hard to sign him.

Mbappe 2020 may not happen but he is clearly a fan of Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.

That sound you can hear is Liverpool fans rushing out to get Mbappe’s name printed on the back of their jersey.

Cavani linked with Man United, Spurs, Chelsea

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Edinson Cavani has handed in a transfer request at Paris Saint-Germain as he’s been linked with a move to Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea in the January window.

PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed that PSG met with Atletico Madrid but that they couldn’t agree a deal with the Spanish club as Cavani’s contract runs out in the summer.

“We’ve always said the same thing. We were hoping he would stay with the club, but today (Sunday) he asked to leave. We’re studying the situation. We’ve had a proposal from Atletico Madrid, but that proposal was not commensurate with the player’s value,” Leonardo said.

Cavani, 32, has also been linked with a move to the LA Galaxy and Inter Miami in recent months as his hip injury in August and subsequent fitness problems has allowed Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe to develop a devastating partnership up front for the French champions.

Tottenham’s need for a short-term solution up front is greater than any other club in the Premier League after Jose Mourinho lost Harry Kane until at least April with a serious hamstring injury. Spurs have been working hard to find a solution and Cavani, who turns 33 in February, would surely fit the bill as his characteristics as a player are very similar to Kane.

With Chelsea having Tammy Abraham as their main striker with Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi as back ups, providing competition for Abraham is clearly necessary as Chelsea continue to fire blanks despite dominating games. If they’re going to finish in the top four this season they need to be more clinical in the final third as they’ve now lost to West Ham, Bournemouth, Southampton and Newcastle without scoring.

Frank Lampard admitted that he admires Cavani and refused to rule out a move for the striker this month.

“He’s (Cavani) a great player – I played against him and I always loved his mentality and his attitude. His goal-scoring record speaks for itself. I’m not absolutely aware of what the situation is, so we’ll see,” Lampard said. “He’s an experienced player but so are many other players out there! We are young as a squad so the idea of bringing in experience is not something I’m looking away from. Sometimes the younger players need a bit of help.”

As for Man United, the news that star striker Marcus Rashford is set to be out for at least the next two months was a hammer blow to their top four hopes as they sit five points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the table. Mason Greenwood is their main back-up option but with Rashford out, Anthony Martial needs to step up to the plate and kick on to replicate his fine start to the season. He didn’t do that against Liverpool in the 2-0 defeat at Anfield and this is what Solskjaer had to say about signing a new striker.

“It might be because the window is open that we look at some short-term deals as well and that could take us through until the summer.”

Who needs Cavani more? There’s no doubt the Uruguayan striker would be a stop-gap signing for all three clubs but his quality is undoubted and his physically style of play would suit the Premier League well.

He is perhaps better suited to Tottenham and Chelsea’s style of play as both rely on a true target man to build off of, while at United their attacking unit is all about pace on the counter, something Cavani doesn’t possess much of any more, bless him. However, given how well Zlatan Ibrahimovic performed at United in 2016-17, maybe the Red Devils will be eager to put their Champions League hopes on the shoulders of another veteran striker from PSG?

Cavani’s record for Napoli and PSG proves he is a world-class striker and if one of Spurs, United or Chelsea sign him this month, their chances of finishing in the top four will sky rocket. That’s how pivotal he could be, if fully fit and ready to empty his tank in Europe for the next few years before heading to Major League Soccer.

Report: Neymar, PSG hoping to secure new deal

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Neymar’s future has been a topic of heavy conversation this winter, with reports through the holiday season that Barcelona will once again court their old superstar come summer.

However, it’s now entirely possible that Paris Saint-Germain looks to ward off interest in the Brazilian by presenting him with a new contract, hoping to lock him down for the foreseeable future. While that won’t happen imminently, ESPN’s Julien Laurens reports that the two parties are optimistic about locking things down once talks begin.

Laurens reports that, while there is interest on both sides – notable given Neymar’s reported attempts to push his way out of Paris last summer – talks will not begin until April or May, after the club’s Champions League fate is clearer.

PSG has long coveted a spot among the Champions League elite, and it’s no secret that Neymar’s PSG tenure will be considered a success or failure largely by their progress in European’s top competition. Should they once again be eliminated early in the knockout rounds, it’s possible that one or both parties change their stance on a long-term commitment.

With his current deal set to expire in the summer of 2022, Laurens reports that “informal talks” have been held between PSG sporting director Leonardo and Neymar’s father, who serves as part of the Brazilian’s representation. While those discussions are a necessary first step, there is still a very long way to go before anything becomes more concrete. Laurens also mentions that agent Pini Zahavi, who was instrumental in Neymar’s initial move to PSG, remains close with Leonardo and will no doubt be a key figure in any potential new deal.

Neymar struggled earlier this season with hamstring problems, but he has always been deadly when on the field for PSG. He has 11 Ligue 1 goals in 12 appearances, including at least one goal in each of the team’s last six league games, plus five assists in that span as well. He was also excellent in the 5-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray to finish out group stage play, and scored a goal in the 6-1 drubbing of St. Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue.

Laurens also reports in the article that Kylian Mbappe is facing a similar situation, with his deal also expiring in the summer of 2022 and waiting to see how the team fares in Champions League play before making a decision. However, Mbappe reportedly already has a concrete offer on the table and is simply waiting to make a decision.

PSG drew Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Round of 16, with the first leg of that matchup set to take place on February 18. PSG has never progressed past the quarterfinal of the competition, and has been knocked out in the Round of 16 in each of the last three seasons.

Survey finds Barcelona is best-paid team in world sports

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LONDON — Soccer players at Spanish powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy champion Juventus are on the best-paid teams in world sports, according to a survey published on Monday.

The 10th edition of the Global Sports Salaries study by sportingintelligence.com placed Barcelona top of the list with an average basic salary of a first team player of $12.8 million. That figure is down on last year when Barcelona was also first with an average of $13.7 million, swelled by the basic pay check of Lionel Messi, which exceeds $65 million.

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Real Madrid retains second place with an average of $11.6 million and Juventus, ninth on the list last year, is up to third with $10.54 million. The other soccer teams in the top 20 are PSG at No. 12 and Manchester City at No. 13.

The figures used in the survey represent basic annual pay and do not include signing bonuses, performance bonuses and other extras.

Teams from the NBA fill the remaining seven spots in the top 10 and take 15 of the top 20 places.

In 2017, the top three teams in the survey were the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Golden State Warriors, while in 2018 three NBA teams broke the average pay ceiling of $10 million per player. This year, the Portland Trail Blazers are in fourth place at just over $10.4 million, Golden State fifth at $10.28 million and Oklahoma City has fallen to sixth at $9.83 million

Among teams ranked 21 to 30 this year, nine are from the NBA, joined by German soccer champion Bayern Munich at No. 22.

Juventus was ranked No. 32 in 2017 but leapt to 10th place last year with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and other high-priced players.

The biggest risers in the latest survey were the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who climbed 60 places from No. 152 to No. 92, and the Atlanta Falcons, up 59 spots from No. 123 to No. 64.

Four of the five biggest falls were recorded by Major League Baseball teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays, who are down 123 places to No. 172. The New York Yankees were the top-ranked team in the inaugural survey in 2012.