James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Manchester United will host bitter rivals and Premier League champions Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

United edged past Championship side Watford in the third round as the Reds cruised past a much-changed Aston Villa, who had to field a squad made up entirely of youth players amid a coronavirus outbreak.

While Liverpool have re-established themselves as the standard-bearers in the Premier League in recent years, they are looking to end a lengthy drought in the FA Cup.

The Reds have not won the competition since 2005-06 when they beat West Ham on penalties, with their most-recent final appearance in 2012 a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

If they are to finally end that wait, they will have to get one over their old nemesis in United, who this season appear to be rising to the challenge set by Liverpool in the Premier League.

United last won the FA Cup in 2015-16 and were beaten by Chelsea in the showpiece two years later – only Arsenal (14) have won the competition more than the Red Devils (12).

Whoever progresses will face either non-league side Stockport County, West Ham or Doncaster Rovers in the fifth round.

Another of the favourites, Manchester City, will expect to cruise through the next couple of rounds given they go to League Two's Cheltenham Town first and then face Swansea City or Nottingham Forest if they avoid a fourth-round shock.

The lowest-ranked side in the draw, sixth-tier Chorley Town, host Wolves, while Tottenham go to Wycombe Wanderers and Chelsea welcome Luton Town to Stamford Bridge.

 

FA Cup fourth-round draw in full:

Cheltenham Town v Manchester City

Bournemouth v Crawley Town

Swansea City v Nottingham Forest

Manchester United v Liverpool

Southampton/Shrewsbury Town v Arsenal

Barnsley v Norwich City

Chorley Town v Wolves

Millwall v Bristol City

Brighton and Hove Albion v Blackpool

Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham

Fulham v Burnley

Sheffield United v Plymouth Argyle

Chelsea v Luton Town

Stockport County/West Ham v Doncaster Rovers

Brentford v Leicester City

Everton v Sheffield Wednesday

Full FA Cup fifth-round draw:

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport County/West Ham or Doncaster

Barnsley/Norwich City v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe Wanderers/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion/Blackpool

 

FA Cup fifth-round draw in full:

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport County/West Ham or Doncaster

Barnsley/Norwich City v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe Wanderers/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion/Blackpool

Sheffield United or Plymouth Argyle v Millwall or Bristol City

Chorley or Wolves v Southampton or Shrewsbury Town or Arsenal
 

Manchester United will host bitter rivals and Premier League champions Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

The former Tottenham boss has signed a contract until June 2022, with the option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions. He will replace Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The German was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Defeats in this season's group stage to Manchester United and RB Leipzig had put Tuchel under pressure, although he was able to lead his side into the last 16 after winning their final three games.

However, there were suggestions PSG's hierarchy had concerns about Tuchel's ability to guide his team past Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Four defeats in 17 Ligue 1 matches, leaving PSG a point behind leaders Lyon, also counted against Tuchel, while a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers appeared to weaken his position further.

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while he took them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

After taking charge in 2014, Pochettino led Spurs to four top-four finishes in five full seasons, twice the number they managed in their previous 22 Premier League campaigns.

He reached 100 wins in the competition in 197 games, the sixth quickest in history alongside Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.

However, Spurs' domestic form suffered badly in 2019 as they tallied 18 defeats in all competitions from January 1 to November 19, when Pochettino was dismissed.

Pochettino has won admirers throughout his coaching career for getting his teams to adopt high-pressing and attacking football, qualities which have become demands of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in recent seasons.

When Tuchel was appointed in 2018, Al-Khelaifi said: "He abides by very strong principles of playing spectacular and clinical football that has always been the foundation of German football, especially on the international scene.

"His competitive spirit, his preference for attacking football and his strong character are in line with what we have always wanted for PSG - this style that our loyal supporters have always demanded and admired."

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

 

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games by the Football Association following a social media post where he used language that has been ruled racially insensitive.

Cavani posted a message in response to an Instagram story from a friend after United's 3-2 win over Southampton on November 29, in which he scored twice.

Uruguay international Cavani used a Spanish phrase in the post, which was later deleted after he was told of its potential to cause offence.

The Football Association (FA) charged the 33-year-old with bringing the game into disrepute earlier this month and on Thursday announced he must serve a suspension following an investigation.

He has also been fined £100,000 and must complete face-to-face education, the FA said.

An FA statement read: "A comment posted on the Manchester United striker's Instagram page was insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA rule E3.1.

"The post also constitutes an 'aggravated breach', which is defined in FA rule E3.2, as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin.

"An independent regulatory commission was appointed to decide the sanction and its written reasons will be published in due course."

Cavani will miss United's Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Friday, as well as the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City and FA Cup third-round tie against Watford.

United said the striker would not contest the charge but stressed there was no "racist intent" behind his comment.

The club said in a statement: "As he has stated, Edinson Cavani wasn't aware that his words could have been misconstrued and he sincerely apologised for the post and to anyone who was offended.

"Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge, out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football.

"While it is clear that context and intent are key factors, we note that the independent regulatory commission was required to impose a minimum three-game suspension.

"The club trusts that the independent regulatory commission will make it clear in its written reasons that Edinson Cavani is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post."

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored four goals in 14 appearances across all competitions since he joined United on a free transfer in October.

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games by the Football Association following a social media post where he used language that has been deemed racially insensitive.

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

"Fulham FC's match at Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 6pm this evening, has been postponed following a Premier League Board meeting this afternoon," a statement read.

"Fulham lodged a request with the Premier League Board to rearrange the fixture following a significant rise in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as a number of players showing symptoms today.

"The Premier League Board has consulted its medical advisors and the decision to postpone the game has been taken as a precaution and with the health of players and staff as the priority. The group will now be retested immediately."

Manchester City's trip to Everton on Monday was called off four hours before kick-off after a number of City staff members and players returned positive tests. The meeting between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at the start of December also had to be rescheduled.

The latest postponement comes a day after the Premier League revealed 18 new positive COVID-19 cases among players and staff - the highest weekly total since the pandemic took hold.

However, despite calls from managers such as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce for a "circuit break" - a two-week pause from all football - the Premier League "has full confidence" fixtures can still go ahead as planned.

"With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the Premier League continues to have full confidence in its COVID-19 protocols and being able to continue to play our fixtures as scheduled," the statement added.

"The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in due course."

Shortly before the official announcement was made, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho took to social media to air his frustration at the lack of updates from league officials.

"Match at 6pm... We still don't know if we play. Best league in the world," he posted on Instagram.

Tottenham, who now face a possible fixture backlog in the coming weeks, said in a statement: "The Premier League informed us of the decision this afternoon, with Fulham having requested the postponement on the grounds of the number of COVID-19 positive cases among their players and staff.

"Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Fulham for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected. Details of a new date for the fixture will be confirmed in due course."

Fulham were without boss Scott Parker for their goalless draw with Southampton on Boxing Day after someone in his household tested positive for COVID-19.

The west London outfit confirmed their players and staff members to have returned positive tests are now quarantining.

"Those players and staff who tested positive have been self-isolating in line with UK Government and Premier League guidance," a statement on their official website read.

"We wish the players and staff who tested positive a safe and speedy recovery."

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

Tottenham's home Premier League clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed at short notice due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Paris Saint-Germain have sacked head coach Thomas Tuchel a day after they hammered Strasbourg 4-0, according to widespread reports.

Tuchel has come under increasing pressure this season, with champions PSG third in Ligue 1 after losing four of their 17 matches.

A rout of struggling Strasbourg on Wednesday came too late for the German boss, who was reportedly relieved of his duties on Christmas Eve.

Former Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who spent over two years with PSG in his playing days, looks poised to replace the 47-year-old.

Tuchel masterminded back-to-back Ligue 1 title triumphs after he was appointed in May 2018, also winning the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and claiming the Trophee des Champions twice.

PSG missed out on a maiden Champions League success when they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich in the final in August.

Tuchel endured a fractious relationship with sporting director Leonardo, but the Brazilian last month stated that the club had never considered sacking the former Borussia Dortmund head coach.

Criticism of PSG's lack of transfer business from Tuchel, whose contract was due to expire at the end of this season, did not go down well with Leonardo during the previous window.

PSG lost their first two Ligue 1 matches of the campaign amid a coronavirus outbreak and Tuchel then suggested a repeat of the 2019-20 campaign could not be expected due to a lack of investment in the playing squad.

Despite a less than vintage start domestically, Tuchel guided last year's runners-up into the Champions League round of 16 as Group H winners.

His replacement will do battle with Barcelona for a place in the quarter-finals.

Houston's clash against the Oklahoma City Thunder scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed after three Rockets players returned positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests.

ESPN reports that John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Jae'Sean Tate were sent home from practice after rookie KJ Martin Jr. tested positive for COVID-19. Martin subsequently tested negative.

Rockets star James Harden, who has reportedly requested a trade, also violated NBA protocols when attending a public event.

That was confirmed in a statement from the NBA, which said the Rockets-Thunder clash would not go ahead as scheduled.

"The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols," it read.

"Three Houston Rockets players have returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA's testing program. Following the contact tracing protocol, four other players are quarantined at this time.

"Additionally, James Harden is unavailable due to a violation of the health and safety protocols. All other Rockets players were tested again today, and all returned negative results. Houston has one additional player who is unavailable due to injury.

"As such, the Rockets do not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder."

The game was meant to be the first of the season for both the Rockets and Thunder after the campaign got underway on Tuesday.

Houston's clash against the Oklahoma City Thunder scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed after three Rockets players returned positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests.

Robert Lewandowski has been named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020.

The Bayern Munich striker was one of three finalists, along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, ahead of Thursday's awards ceremony.

Messi, the 2019 winner, and Ronaldo had claimed the top prize in three of its four prior editions but were this time beaten by Bayern's treble-winner.

Lewandowski led the line as the Bundesliga giants won the league, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2019-20.

Between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's awards - the Poland international scored a stunning 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes.

This tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

While Ronaldo was second in this regard, tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, Messi trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).

The Barcelona captain's 32 goals were matched by Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe.

FIFA recognition is particularly precious for Lewandowski this year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Ballon d'Or to be cancelled in the best season of his career.

Lewandowski had never previously won either award, although he was the UEFA Men's Player of the Year last season, making him the clear favourite here ahead of Messi and Ronaldo.

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