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Transfer rumor roundup: Matic close to United deal, West Brom want defender

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Chelsea appears set to lose one of its key pieces in the midfield from a season ago, while West Bromwich Albion is keen on a former Premier League defender to bolster its back line in 2017/18.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The Blues will likely lose holding midfielder Nemanja Matic over the coming days as Manchester United’s continued interest in the Serbian has ramped up.

A picture has surfaced online of Matic wearing a United top, although there is no confirmation as to whether or not the photo has been altered.

The Red Devils have already had a successful summer in the transfer market, securing big deals with Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof as manager Jose Mourinho enters his second season at Old Trafford.

However, the Sun is reporting that a deal with Chelsea is being held up by a discrepancy over bonus payments that would be paid to the Blues.

Sky Sports is reporting that West Brom is seeking a move for Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen, who previously spent time in the PL with Arsenal.

The Belgium veteran has struggled to crack the Barca XI in his time at the Camp Nou, and spent last season on loan at Roma.

[ MORE: Man United planning massive bid for Bale next summer ]

The report also states that Crystal Palace has expressed interest in the 31-year-old.

Jeremy Mathieu in jeopardy of missing Euros after meniscus tear

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Coming off of a convincing 4-2 victory over Russia on Tuesday, France did receive some bad news from the match.

[ MORE: Frenchman Dimitri Payet scores beautiful long-range free kick ]

Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, who entered the game in the second half, lasted only eight minutes, after sustaining a knee injury.

[ MORE: Gary Neville sacked by Valencia after poor run of form ]

The Blaugrana have confirmed that the 32-year-old’s injury is a torn meniscus and that he will undergo an operation on Thursday.

France has already lost one defender this year due to injury in Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma, so another extended injury could really hurt the team’s backline ahead of this summer’s 2016 European Championship.

This season, Mathieu has started 12 matches for the league leaders. The loss of the Frenchman could be critical in Barcelona’s run at a treble, given their lack of options at left back. While Jordi Alba has been ruled fit enough to play in this weekend’s El Clasico vs. Real Madrid, the Catalan side lacks depth behind Alba and Mathieu.

Thomas Vermaelen could see an increased role down the stretch depending on the length of Mathieu’s absence. The former Arsenal defender has primarily played as a central defender throughout his career, however, he is versatile enough to fill in on the wings if necessary.

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La Liga & Serie A roundup: Madrid clubs cruise; Juve loses again

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Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

Real Madrid 5-0 Real Betis

After a disappointing scoreless draw to open the season, Real Madrid got back on track with a 5-0 thrashing of Real Betis. Gareth Bale scored two goals and Karim Benzema added one as well, but the man of the match was James Rodriguez. James assisted on Bale’s first, buried a brilliant free kick, and scored on a bicycle kick, creating a personal highlight reel in just 90 minutes.

Sevilla 0-3 Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid is yet to concede a goal through two matches, defeating Sevilla 3-0 to remain unbeaten and unscored upon. Koke put Atletico ahead in the first half before Gabi had a shot deflected past the keeper to double the lead in the 78th minute. Jackson Martinez sealed the win with beautiful strike from distance, the Colombian’s first goal for the club since joining from Porto.

Barcelona 1-0 Malaga

Barcelona failed to score a goal against Malaga and took just one point from two matches last year, but squeaked out close 1-0 victory over the South coast side this weekend. Thomas Vermaelen was the surprise goalscorer for the defending European champs, as the former Arsenal center-back fired home a volley with less than 20 minutes to play to take all three points.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 3-1 Espanyol
Real Sociedad 0-0 Sporting Gijon
Celta Vigo 3-0 Rayo
Eibar 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
Valencia 1-1 Deportivo
Las Palmas 0-0 Levante
Getafe 1-2 Granada


Paul Pogba
Juve has lost the opening two matches of a season for the first time in club history.

Roma 2-1 Juventus — MORE

After losing three matches all of last season, Juventus has opened up the new campaign with two straight losses, falling to Roma 2-1 earlier today. Goals from Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko downed Juve, who were forced to ten men when Patrice Evra was sent off in the second half. Far from a dream start for the team that was a win away from the treble last season.

AC Milan 2-1 Empoli

Summer signings Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano both scored for AC Milan, as the Rossoneri got their first Serie A win under Sinisa Mihajlovic. Depsite the result, the new manager was not pleased with his side’s performance, saying “The result is the only thing to salvage, nothing else. I saw the players too tense and frightened. Courage and personality was lacking from my players. We won, but I feel like I have lost.” Harsh words after taking all three points.

Napoli 2-2 Sampdoria

Maurizio Sarri has yet to find a win as Napoli manager, after losing to Sassuolo last week and drawing Sampdoria this weekend 2-2. Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the first half to give Napoli a 2-0 lead, but Sampdoria striker Eder scored two goals in two minutes in the second half to climb back for a draw.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Carpi 1-2 Inter Milan
Bologna 0-1 Sassuolo
Udinese 0-1 Palermo
Torino 3-1 Fiorentina
Chievo 4-0 Lazio
Atalanta 2-0 Frosinone
Genoa 2-0 Verona

Barcelona releases roster for US tour, Messi and Neymar left off


Barcelona released its 24-man roster for its upcoming International Champions Cup tour of the United States, and there are two very big names not present.

Four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and Brazilian superstar Neymar are both missing from the roster, while Uruguayan attacker Luis Suarez does make the trip and young German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will end his offseason early to highlight the 24 players.

Messi is currently vacationing in Turks & Caicos after losing in the finals of the Copa America, while Neymar was last seen in Las Vegas hanging out with Michael Jordan.

The strike pair aren’t the only notable names missing from the roster. Messi’s Argentina teammate Javier Mascherano is also a no-show, as is Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Meanwhile, new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, who aren’t eligible to play competitively until January, will be on the flight across the Atlantic.

Highly rated Croatian midfielder Alen Halilovic, plus teammates Jose Suarez, Samper, and Gumbau are the four Barcelona B players who earned a call-up to the trip.

Barcelona will begin its ICC tour with a match against Steven Gerrard and the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday, July 22. They then head just north to Santa Clara to take on Manchester United, before games against Chelsea and Fiorentina up to the end of August. They’ll return home to the Nou Camp for a friendly against AS Roma before their season starts in the European Supercup against Sevilla on August 11.

FULL BARCELONA SQUAD: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Masip, Jose Suarez, Aleix Vidal, Douglas, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra, Thomas Vermaelen, Mathieu, Adriano, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Samper, Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto, Gumbau, Andres Iniesta, Halilovic, Arda Turan, Rafinha, Pedro, Munir, Luis Suarez, Sandro.

Wenger rooting for Barcelona? Gunners get dough if Barca wins Champions League

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In a minor and quite miniscule sense, Barcelona will have Arsenal on its side in next month’s UEFA Champions League final against Juventus.

Perhaps we’ll call them Barcenal.

The North London club will get $4.5 million if Barcelona wins the UCL title, thanks a clause in the summer sale of defender Thomas Vermaelen.

[ UCL: Suarez strains hamstring ]

The 29-year-old defender just returned to full fitness after a season-long injury battle with a hamstring tear, but his participation doesn’t matter when it comes to the money.

No word on whether Wenger has already committed the money to signing more attackers.

In case your curious — we were — Barca and Arsenal haven’t tangled since the 2011 UCL, and the Blaugranas have a 4W-2D-1L advantage in the series.