Steven Naismith

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup: Pep wants Suarez; Benzema to City?

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The transfer rumors doing the rounds this Sunday are not messing around, with the like of Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema, Andriy Yarmolenko and Marcelo Brozovic all being linked with moves during either the upcoming January or summer transfer windows.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Up first, the Daily Star is reporting that current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, who himself will be heading elsewhere in the summer, will demand his new employer make Barcelona striker Luis Suarez the centerpiece of his first transfer window in charge. How much would Suarez cost the still-unknown club? Perhaps as much as $150 million. We’ll see.

As for La Liga’s other giant, Real Madrid, they’re also said to be losing a top striker in the coming months, according to the Mirror. Where’s Karim Benzema heading, you ask? Manchester City, supposedly. Man City is an obvious candidate to this summer land Guardiola, whom was just linked with Suarez. Suarez and Benzema in the same summer? Get your rumors straight here, guys.

Arsenal are said to be in the market for a bit of midfield depth, with 22-year-old Inter Milan man Marcelo Brozovic a top target, according to the Metro. Brozovic, who’s already a regular for the Croatian national team, is currently on loan from Dinamo Zagreb. The Metro reckons Inter would sell him on for about $18 million.

[ MORE: Saturday’s rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

It feels as if Andriy Yarmolenko has been linked with the Premier League’s big boys for practically a decade now, yet he’s still a Dynamo Kyiv player to this day. The Sun believes that might not be the case much longer with Everton lining up a reported bid of $30 million to sign the 26-year-old Ukrainian attacker.

Manchester United are reportedly interested in 22-year-old Lille winger Sofiane Boufal. In the Telegraph is a report linking bottom Premier League side Aston Villa to Everton’s Steven Naismith in $10-million move. Jamie Vardy has reportedly been told by England boss Roy Hodgson that he should stay at Leicester City rather than move during the January window.

Premier League Player of the Week — Round 5

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There really isn’t much of a debate here: Everton’s Steven Naismith may’ve not been strong enough to start the Toffees’ upset of Chelsea, but the 28-year-old Scottish attacker shone brighter than any other player in the Premier League weekend.

Naismith scored a “perfect hat trick” after coming off the bench for injured Muhamed Besic early in Everton’s 3-1 win at Goodison Park, netting with his head, left foot and right foot in shocking the reigning champion Blues.

[ MOURINHO: “Click Google instead of stupid questions” ]

That makes it two Players of the Week for Everton this early season. More importantly, Roberto Martinez’s charges are starting the season where they feel they belong: in the race for Europe.

Premier League Player of the Week

Week 1: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

Week 2: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

Week 3: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth

Week 4: Bafetimbi Gomis, Swansea City

Week 5: Steven Naismith, Everton

Barclays Asia Trophy: Everton beat Stoke on PKs; Arsenal hammer Singapore Select XI

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In front of over 29,000 fans in Singapore, the opening two games of the Barclays Asia Trophy saw Everton and Arsenal prevail to set up a showdown in the final.

[ WATCH: Stream Asia Trophy via Live Extra ]  

The Toffees beat fellow Premier League side Stoke City on penalty kicks, while Arsenal thrashed Singapore Select XI 4-0.

All four teams will be back in action on Saturday, with Stoke playing Singapore in the third-place match and Everton and Arsenal battling it out for the Barclays Asia Trophy. Remember, you can stream both of those games live online via NBC Sports Live Extra by clicking on the link above.

[ MORE: Dos Santos signs for LA

Right, here’s a roundup of Wednesday’s action.

Everton 0-0 Stoke City (Everton win 5-4 on PKs)

A slightly nervy encounter between two PL sides to kick things off, but as the game wore on Everton looked the more likely to score and deserved to prevail on penalty kicks. Stoke looked lively early on as Peter Odemwingie could have scored but side-footed wide, then Marko Arnautovic was thwarted by a superb sliding tackle from Phil Jagielka. Romelu Lukaku caused Stoke’s defense plenty of problems but new Danish goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard saved well from Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu., while U.S. international Geoff Cameron made several key interceptions at center back for Stoke. Plus, Tim Howard looked steady and assured in goal for Everton.

The sides couldn’t be separated in normal time so penalty kicks were needed and Stoke’s on-loan winger Marco van Ginkel was the only player to fail from the spot as Howard saved his PK to hand Everton a place in Saturday’s final.

Arsenal 4-0 Singapore

Chuba Akpom scored a hat trick to lead Arsenal to a routine 4-0 win over a Singapore Select XI in Wednesday’s other semifinal. Akpom finished off a lighting-fast counter attack in the first half to put the Gunners 1-0 up and despite a well-organized Singapore frustrating the PL side, the floodgates opened after half time. First Jack Wilshere made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Matheiu Debuchy was clipped in the box, then Akpom grabbed his second and Arsenal’s third with another penalty kick. Late on the young striker scored his hat trick as Hector Bellerin clipped in a perfect ball from the right which Akpom headed home. 4-0 to the Gunners, as U.S. national team youngster Gedion Zelalem got a 30 minute run out at the end alongside plenty of Arsenal’s other youngsters.

Arsenal will now face Everton in the final on Saturday, which you can watch live on NBC Universo and online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Watch Live: Everton vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

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Everton welcome Sunderland to Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) with the Toffees protecting an eight-game unbeaten run at home.

As for Sunderland, their situation is dire as the Black Cats remain in the bottom three with four games left. Their final two games of the season are away to Arsenal and Chelsea, so Sunderland’s boss Dick Advocaat knows they must get something from their trip to Merseyside if they want to boost their survival hopes.

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Two games without a defeat, including last weeks win over Southampton, have lifted the Mackems but they must record a win at Everton to pile the pressure on the other clubs battling against relegation.

In team news Everton bring in Leon Osman and Ross Barkley for Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas. Sunderland bring in Wes Brown to replace injured captain John O’Shea and continue to play in a more attacking 4-3-3 formation.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Stones, Jagielka, McCarthy, Barry, Lennon, Barkley, Osman, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Garbutt, Besic, Naismith, McGeady, Mirallas, Kone

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, Brown, Coates, Cattermole, Gomez, Larsson, Defoe, Wickham, Graham. Subs: Bridcutt, Fletcher, Johnson, Reveillere, Vergini, Buckley, Mannone

EURO 2016 qualifying roundup: Germany back on track; Portugal beat Serbia, go top

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Just like that, we are halfway home through qualifying for the 2016 European Championship. With the exception of one more game to be played on Tuesday (Belgium vs. Israel), everybody has played everyone in the group once.

[ RECAP: Sat.’s EURO 2016 action | Friday ]

While Saturday’s games provided a couple big surprises, Sunday’s results were much more straightforward, as the traditional “powers” of Europe inched closer to next summer’s tournament in France.

Georgia 0-2 Germany

Following a somewhat slow start to their EURO 2016 qualifying campaign (four points from three games), the reigning world champions continued their surge up the Group D standings and currently find themselves level on points (10) with Scotland, one point back of leaders Poland.

The hosts held tough for nearly the entire first half, but Thomas Muller and Marco Reus netted goals five minutes apart just before halftime to give Joachim Low’s side all three points.

Portugal 2-1 Serbia

Ricardo Carvalho (10th minute) and Fabio Coentrao (63rd) provided the goals for Portugal to cancel out Nemanja Matic’s 61st-minute equalizer and send the Portuguese (9 points) two points clear of the rest of Group I.

Scotland 6-1 Gibraltar

For the most part, the scoreline was as expected prior to kickoff, with one small exception: for the first time in their official (since 1993) footballing history, Gibraltar have scored a competitive goal. It was, of course, nowhere near enough to secure their first point of EURO 2016 qualifying, as the Gibraltar’s goal difference slipped to minus-26 after five games played.

Chicago Fire midfielder Shaun Maloney tallied twice for Scotland from the penalty spot, while Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher nabbed a hat trick and Everton’s Steven Naismith chipped in with a goal of his own.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying

Group D

Ireland 1-1 Poland

Group F

Northern Ireland 2-1 Finland
Romania 1-0 Faroe Islands
Hungary 0-0 Greece

Group I

Albania 2-1 Armenia