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Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

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.

Barcelona’s Suarez to undergo knee surgery, out indefinitely

Luis Suarez undergoes knee surgery
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Barcelona’s trip to Saudi Arabia sees it back in Spain all sorts of grumpy.

First the Blaugranas fell apart at the back after Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi gave them a second half lead over Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup Final.

The 3-2 loss has now been joined by a significant injury to Luis Suarez, who went 90 minutes and assisted Messi’s goal in the overseas semifinal.

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Suarez is having surgery on his right knee on Sunday, the second-straight season the ex-Liverpool man has required a procedure on his knee.

It’s not as simple as copying and pasting that recovery time, as he went under the knife with just three matches left in the La Liga season. His first missed match was May 4 and the Copa del Rey final was May 25.

Barcelona has been linked with forwards in the transfer window as the club looks to firm up both La Liga and UEFA Champions League credentials.

The Uruguayan has 14 goals and 11 assists in 23 matches this season. He’s scored at least 20 goals in a season every year since 2011/12, his first season with Liverpool.

From the international angle, Uruguay begins World Cup qualifying on March 26 versus Chile.

Diego Forlan gets first managerial gig at Peñarol

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Uruguayan giant Penarol gave former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan his first coaching job on Friday.

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Forlan will replace head coach Diego Lopez, whose contract ends at the end of this month.

The 40-year-old Forlan said in a news conference his brother Pablo will be one of his assistants.

“To have my first experience in a club of traditions and of a high level like Penarol is more than I dreamed of,” Forlan said.

“When you play you notice if you like soccer itself. It isn’t only about playing. I enjoy it, I like it, I analyze it, I see it.”

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Forlan played for Penarol in 2015-2016, near the end of a successful career that also included spells at Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, and Argentina’s Independiente.

FIFA chose him as the best player of the 2010 World Cup, where Uruguay finished third.

Penarol lost the Uruguayan title to archrival Nacional this month.

Suarez, Cavani set to play for Uruguay in friendly v Hungary

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are set to return for Uruguay in a friendly game against Hungary in November.

Both men missed two games against Peru in October as they recovered from injuries.

All 24 players named by coach Oscar Tabarez on Friday do not play in Uruguay.

Defender Jose Maria Gimenez is out because of muscle injury he picked playing for Atletico Madrid this week.

Uruguay faces Hungary on Nov. 15 at the Ferenc Puskas stadium in Budapest. The country’s soccer body is yet to pick an opponent for another friendly on Nov. 19.

Squad:

Goakeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Campana (Independiente).

Defenders: Diego Godin (Inter Milan), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Martin Caceres (Fiorentina), Bruno Mendez (Corinthians), Mathias Suarez (Montpellier).

Midfielders: Matias Vecino (Inter Milan), Nahitan Nandez (Cagliari), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Giorgian de Arrasacaeta (Flamengo), Gaston Pereiro (PSV), Diego Laxalt (Torino).

Strikers: Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Darwin Nunez (Almeria), Brian Rodriguez (Los Angeles FC), Maximilano Gomez (Valencia).

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