Rumour Has It: Chelsea join Man United in Upamecano tussle, PSG set sights on Pogba

By Sports Desk January 10, 2021

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's long-term future appears uncertain, though there is a strong possibility he will end up in the Premier League.

The France international centre-back has emerged as one of Europe's most-promising defenders in recent seasons and is part of a Leipzig side that has conceded just 12 goals in 15 Bundesliga games this season.

Upamecano, 22, looks certain for a big-money move eventually, and although his next destination is unclear, he has plenty of admirers in England.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO RIVAL MAN UNITED FOR UPAMECANO

Chelsea are going through a difficult period as they sit ninth in the Premier League, and their options at centre-back do not appear to be entirely to Frank Lampard's liking.

While 36-year-old Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma have become his preferred pairing, Lampard seems unconvinced by back-up options Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori.

The Mail on Sunday reports Chelsea have joined the list of clubs lining up for Upamecano, who reportedly has a release of around €50million (£45m) in the new contract he signed last year.

But Chelsea will not expect a free run at Upamecano – the Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United retain an interest in him, with the Red Devils' centre-back options also far from impressive in 2020-21.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba appears to be returning to form on the evidence of his recent displays, but how much longer will he remain at Old Trafford? The Daily Star believes Mauricio Pochettino has identified him as a key target at Paris Saint-Germain. Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked.

- Declan Rice's future continues to be subject of speculation, with the Daily Mirror reporting he favours a return to Chelsea – whom he played for at academy level – over joining Manchester United.

- Lucas Torreira could be on the move again. Arsenal loaned the Uruguayan midfielder to Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, but he has featured only six times in LaLiga. Mundo Deportivo suggests he is being lined up by Fiorentina.

- Inter could be set to further increase their contingent of former Manchester United players. The Mirror says Jesse Lingard is the latest to be targeted by the Nerazzurri, who already have Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young on their books.

- M'Bala Nzola has been one of the revelations of the season in Serie A with promoted Spezia. Napoli are said to be keen on the striker, though CalcioMercato reports Newcastle United and West Ham are monitoring the situation as well.

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    Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham has been voted LaLiga's Player of the Season after playing a pivotal role in leading the club to their 36th league title.

    Bellingham edged out team-mate Vinicius Junior, Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, Girona's Artem Dovbyk and Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski in votes cast by fans, club captains and a panel of experts.

    He scored 19 goals and had six assists in 28 league games this season, tallying 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions in his first campaign with Los Blancos.

    Bellingham, who could not attend Tuesday's ceremony in Sardinia as he is preparing for the Champions League final at Wembley against his former club Borussia Dortmund, said he was honoured to have received the award.

    "I would like to dedicate it to my team-mates, the coaching staff and, most importantly, to the fans of the best club in the world," he said in a message. 

    "It's a pleasure every time I play for this team. Hala Madrid!"

    The England star also won the 2022-23 Bundesliga Player of the Season prize while playing for Dortmund before moving to Real for a fee of around €103million.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl was full of praise for Bellingham.

    "I know how strong Jude is and I know his personality very much, so he's an amazing player, an amazing character and of course, he will do everything to win that final," he said.

  • New York Red Bulls v Charlotte FC: Smith not worried about goalless run New York Red Bulls v Charlotte FC: Smith not worried about goalless run

    Charlotte FC head coach Dean Smith says his team will continue to work on their lack of goal threat as they prepare to travel to New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

    Charlotte sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind the Red Bulls after going unbeaten in their last five matches.

    However, their last two outings have finished 0-0 against LA Galaxy and Philadelphia Union as they managed just six shots on target combined in those games.

    Asked how he approaches a situation like that, Smith said: "We talk openly, review all the games and the fact is that we probably haven't worked the goalkeeper enough.

    "We've spoke about that and what we feel we can do to improve that. We've had chances, and we probably haven't done as well as we could do with those, so that's something we'll continue to work on

    "It's going to be a tough game [against the Red Bulls] because they're a tough team."

    The Red Bulls are coming off a 10-day break after their derby defeat to New York City FC on May 19, and sit fifth in the table.

    Head coach Sandro Schwarz said: "The performance [against NYCFC] wasn't the best, and we weren't able to create chances to score and to get three points.

    "We want more, and we have to improve a lot, but this is normal. We need time, but the mentality, the behaviour, they adapt very quick and very well.

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    New York Red Bulls – Cameron Harper

    Harper scored New York's lone goal in their last match, his third straight match with a goal. He is the first Red Bulls player to score in three straight regular-season matches since Patryk Klimala in 2021, and the last Red Bulls player to score in four straight league games was Bradley Wright-Phillips in July-August 2017.

    Charlotte – Kristijan Kahlina

    Charlotte have kept clean sheets in five consecutive regular-season matches, the only team to do so in MLS this season. The only team since 2008 to keep a clean sheet in six straight games within a single regular season was New York City FC in May 2022, and Kahlina will be looking to equal that record.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK RED BULLS WIN

    The Red Bulls have lost only one of their six all-time meetings with Charlotte in all competitions, a 2-0 road defeat in June 2022. New York have won three of their four home matches against Charlotte (D1), scoring multiple goals in each match, including a 5-2 win in last year's playoffs.

    The Red Bulls are unbeaten in eight straight home matches dating back to last season (W5 D3, incl. playoffs). New York have not had a longer home unbeaten run in MLS play since a nine-match run from August 2018 to March 2019.

    Meanwhile, Charlotte won 1-0 at Chicago in their last away match after a seven-match winless run on the road in all competitions. Charlotte have never recorded back-to-back away wins in all competitions before.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    New York Red Bulls – 53%

    Draw – 23.9%

    Charlotte – 23.1%

  • Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC: Reds keep growing under Herdman Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC: Reds keep growing under Herdman

    Toronto FC head coach John Herdman admits his team still have some growing to do as they travel to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.

    Despite losing three of their last four MLS games – winning the other 5-1 at home to CF Montreal – Toronto sit sixth in the Eastern Conference on 22 points with a very balanced record.

    They have won seven and lost seven of their league games, drawing the other one, and have both scored and conceded 24 goals.

    After conceding late in their 4-3 loss to Cincinnati, Herdman says his team need to put more work into their defensive side of the game.

    "It's that level of concentration, that level of discipline that championship teams are able to bring to games," Herdman said.

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    "I think collectively as a group they recognized it. And they welcomed it. They know we're growing. They know we’re on a bit of a journey."

    Philadelphia are four points off a final series place in eighth with 18 points and are unbeaten in their last two matches after failing to win any of the previous six.

    Asked about the test his side will face against Toronto, the Union head coach Jim Curtin said they are a "much-improved team.

    "Really well organized, really well coached. A dangerous team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Philadelphia Union – Daniel Gazdag

    Gazdag has been involved in eight goals (four goals, four assists) in three home matches against Toronto FC, recording multiple goal contributions in each match.

    Toronto FC – Lorenzo Insigne

    After recording two assists against Montreal last week, Insigne had a goal and an assist on Saturday, the second player, along with Federico Bernardeschi, to contribute to multiple goals in consecutive matches for Toronto this season.

    MATCH PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA UNION WIN

    The Union have won each of their last four home matches against Toronto by a combined score of 16-2. Philadelphia had won just four of their first 11 home matches against the Reds (D3 L4).

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    Meanwhile, Toronto nearly drew with FC Cincinnati on Saturday, losing 4-3 to a goal in the third minute of stoppage time. Toronto have drawn only one of their last 36 matches in all competitions dating back to last June (W11 L24).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Philadelphia Union – 67.7%

    Draw – 18.9%

    Toronto FC – 13.4%

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