Premier League Preview and Prediction: Hull City vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Hull City vs. Manchester City

Venue: KCOM Stadium – Monday, December 26 – 17:15 GMT (12:15 ET)

Match Odds: Hull 17/2 – Draw 9/2 – Manchester City 1/3

Match Preview

Hull City welcome Manchester City to the KCOM Stadium on Boxing Day. The two are at opposite ends of the Premier League table and both desperately need to pick up three points.

Mike Phelan’s side sit bottom of the league on just 12 points. There are just seven points separating 13th and bottom, making things very tight and every game could have massive implications on the battle to avoid relegation.

Hull have managed just three wins this season and haven’t won in their last six. They need to bring that run to an end as soon as possible to avoid a gap opening up between them and the other relegation candidates, so a win here would do wonders for the confidence of both the players and the fans.

The Tigers lost 1-0 to West Ham in their last outing and can count themselves unlucky to have done so, despite losing 10 of their last 13 Hull are unbeaten in three at home, so they will have to try and make home form count to start picking up some points against the like of City here.

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Manchester City need to get their title bid back on track, and could be doing so after winning their last two games on the spin after losing back-to-back fixtures beforehand.

Their 2-1 win against Arsenal last weekend was an impressive result. Pep Guardiola’s side came from a goal behind to take all three points and showed great resilience to get the job done.

This is a winnable game for Manchester City but they have dropped points in games they have been expected to win already this season, so it’s essential they have no shortcomings this time around.

It’s clear Guardiola has work to do to get his side firing on all cylinders and play the style of football he loves, so they can be forgiven for looking like they are in a transitional period at this stage, but they cannot afford to keep dropping points if they want to challenging for the title.

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Team News

Hull City’s injury concerns continue as Moses Odubajo, Alex Bruce, Greg Luer, Abel Hernandez and Will Keane are all out, while Allan McGregor, Brian Lenihan and Ryan Mason are all doubts.

Manchester City could be without up to five for the trip to Hull as Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan are all out. City could also be without Pablo Zabaleta, while Sergio Aguero remains unavailable through suspension.

Key Points

Hull City’s last five: D/L/D/L/L

Manchester City’s last five: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Hull City have not won in their last six Premier League outings.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The Manchester City and England winger has been steadily improving under Guardiola, he bagged the winner for City last weekend and will be relishing the opportunity to get at a Hull City defence lacking confidence.

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Score Prediction

Hull City 1-3 Manchester City – Hull to come up short against a Manchester City side who are expected to win this game. While Guardiola’s men have struggled defensively they are not up against a prolific strike-force from Hull, so they should be able to comfortably take all three points.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City

Venue: White Hart Lane – Sunday, October 2 – 14:15 BST (09:15 ET)

Match Odds: Tottenham 11/5 – Draw 5/2 – Manchester City 23/20

Match Preview

Tottenham welcome Premier League leaders Manchester City to White Hart Lane on Sunday in the standout fixture of the weekend.

Spurs have enjoyed a strong start to the season and remain unbeaten, one of only two sides to do so, the other being Manchester City.

Mauricio Pochettino will be eager for his side to take three points here and signal their intent for the season and he has previous experience of how to beat a Pep Guardiola side.

Tottenham come into this one having won 2-1 away at Boro, another solid performance and their third league win on the bounce.

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Manchester City are absolutely flying. They’re top of the league with maximum points from their first six games.

It is already looking like a case of ‘who can stop us’ from the City camp. Confidence is sky high and they look like a side who know they’re capable of winning the league.

Guardiola will have his players firmly grounded though. He will be expecting a very tough game here and anything other than 100% from his side would be unacceptable in his eyes.

City come into this one having seen off Swansea in a 3-1 win last weekend. It was another example of how comfortable they are looking but there is still room to improve for them in terms of discipline, as Nolito saw red for a moment of madness.

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Team News

Tottenham Hotspur are expecting to be without both Harry Kane and Danny Rose for this tie, while Moussa Dembele, Moussa Sissoko and Eric Dier are all doubts.

Manchester City are without the suspended Nolito, while captain Vincent Kompany is sidelined following his latest injury setback. Kevin De Bruyne is expected to be out for around three weeks after picking up a hamstring injury, he will be a huge miss for City.

Key Points

Tottenham Hotspur’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Manchester City’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Sign of champions – Manchester City have won all six of their Premier League games this season.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The England international is thriving under Pep Guardiola. He looks full of confidence and dangerous with his direct, attacking play.

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Score Prediction

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Manchester City – A cagey, tight affair looks likely for this one. Spurs will be up for the challenge but City have the squad depth and resilience under Pep to overcome the most difficult of challenges and this game will be exactly that.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester City vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Venue: Etihad Stadium – Saturday, November 21 – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Man City 8/13 – Draw 3/1 – Liverpool 9/2

Match Preview

Manchester City host Liverpool in a huge Premier League clash on Saturday evening with both sides looking to build on disappointing results last time out.

Both clubs have had two weeks to prepare for this game as a result of the international break. City could only draw 0-0 at Aston Villa a fortnight ago, while Liverpool suffered their first loss under Jurgen Klopp in a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The Citizens still sit at the top of the Premier League after 12 games but are only ahead of Arsenal on goal difference and may need to win on Saturday just to stay level with the Gunners.

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There’s no doubt there’s mounting pressure on Manchester City to start winning more regularly after just three league wins in their last seven.

Manchester City’s Premier League record: P12 – W8 – D2 – L2

With injury problems still affecting the starting lineup on a weekly basis, Manuel Pellegrini will hope his side can show enough to beat Liverpool, with or without stars such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva.

The Reds travel to the Etihad after winning just one of their last five. They lost for the third time this term against Palace two weeks ago and face a tough task in trying to respond with a win now.

Klopp is still trying to get his playing style embedded into the Liverpool players but his demands for high work rates have left some players struggling to perform for 90 minutes.

Liverpool’s Premier League record: P12 – W4 – D5 – L3

They’ve conceded in the final ten minutes in two of their last three and need to hope the two-week international break means they will be firing on all cylinders on Saturday.

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They beat Chelsea 3-1 in their last away game and will now look to record a first league win at City since 2008.

Team News

Manchester City have doubts hanging over as many as seven players ahead of Saturday evening’s clash. David Silva and Sergio Aguero are close to returning but are unlikely to be ready for this match. While, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony are all doubts too and might miss out.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp now has six injuries to deal with as Mamadou Sakho has joined Jordan Henderson, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, Jordan Rossiter and Jon Flanagan on the sidelines. James Milner has recovered from a knock and should start against his former club, while Christian Benteke should be handed the lone striking role.

Key Points

Manchester City’s last five: W/W/D/W/D

Liverpool’s last five: D/D/D/W/L

Key Stat: Both teams have scored at least one goal in each of the last seven meetings between these two in all competitions.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The young England star will line up against Liverpool for the first time since leaving for City in the summer and plenty of pressure will be on him to deliver. His pace could hurt the Reds, especially if played as the lone striker.

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Score Prediction

Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool – A lot will depend on how many of City’s doubtful starts will make the game. If Kompany, Aguero and Silva are all missing from the starting lineup it’s tough to see the hosts winning. Both sides have been drawing too many games of late and they might have to both settle for a point on Saturday too.

Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview and Prediction: San Marino vs England

Competition: European Championship Qualifier – San Marino vs. England

Venue: Stadio Olimpico di Serrvavalle – San Marino – Saturday, September 5 – 17:00 GMT

Match Odds: San Marino 66/1 – Draw 25/1 – England 1/100

Match Preview

San Marino host England in Group E in the latest European Qualifier on Saturday afternoon, with the two sides at opposite ends of the table. San Marino are yet to win a game in the group and have just one point.

Pier-Angelo Manzaroli’s side haven’t scored in the qualifying rounds but will be looking to frustrate England and keep the score to a minimum here.

The host’s stadium will provide a hostile atmosphere with a capacity of 5115. It will be a different experience for Roy Hodgson’s side as the players are used to packed out Premier League crowds but they should face little difficulty in winning nonetheless.

San Marino lost their previous qualifying game 2-0 away at Estonia. Despite the negative result there are positives for Manzaroli to take, as his side managed to compete in the game rather than being thumped by a high scoreline.

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England have won all six of their games in Group E and sit six points clear of Switzerland in second place. Hodgson will have his players more than aware that anything but a convincing win here is not acceptable.

It is a chance for England to try out some different tactics and we can expect to see plenty of attacking play. Despite the fact that they will probably line-up with four at the back, Hodgson will expect his full-backs to provide plenty of width and service.

England’s last tie in the group was their 3-2 win over Slovenia, with Wayne Rooney scoring late on to take all three points. The England captain will see this as his chance to finally become leading scorer for the nation. He needs to net at least two to do so to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49.

Hodgson will have his players respect the opposition but this should be an easy win for England against a side ranked 193 in the world and anything but a win would be a shock.

Team News

We can expect the hosts to attempt to give England as little space as they can by playing their preferred 4-5-1 formation. San Marino will look to counter attack where possible but this will be a game where they attempt to keep the score as low as possible.

Roy Hodgson has the chance to rotate his 22 man squad in this one. The likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Jamie Vardy will be hoping for some game time. The England manager will no doubt be looking for his side to get the job done in a professional manner.

Key Points

San Marino’s last five in Euro Qualifiers: L/L/D/L/L

England’s last five in Euro Qualifiers: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: England have won all six of their games in Group E so far, scoring 18 and conceding just three.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The Manchester City forward has started the Premier League campaign well and has settled into his new squad excellently following his £49 million move from Liverpool. His attacking flare will see him look to drive at San Marino from the outset.

Score Prediction

San Marino 0-5 England – A routine win for England expected, which should see then dominate proceedings as they will continue their 100% record in Group E.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City 

Venue: The Hawthorns – Monday, August 10 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: West Bromwich Albion 9/2 – Draw 14/5 – Manchester City 8/13

Match Preview

The opening Monday Night Football of the season sees Manchester City travel to the Hawthorns to take on Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion.

West Brom come into the game off the back of five wins on the trot in preseason and look very organised defensively.

The Baggies will be looking to build on last season as they became a tough side to beat at home under Pulis.

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Pulis has strengthened well this summer after bringing in James McLean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert and all three will be hoping to make their debuts here.

The future of young Saido Berahino is still up in the air, and with other first team strikers like Brown Ideye in form in front of goal, don’t be surprised if Berahino is benched.

Man City have been relatively quiet in the window, apart from their high-profile capture of England international Raheem Sterling.

City have mainly focused on bringing in young English talent with the likes of Fabian Delph and Patrick Roberts joining the Citizens this summer.

Make no mistake, City will be challenging for the title once again this term and if star players like Yaya Toure return to peak form, they are serious contenders to dethrone Chelsea.

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Starting with three points will be the target this weekend but a trip to West Brom represents a tricky early test for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Team News

West Brom are still missing Ben Foster so Boaz Myhill should deputise for the England ‘keeper. Gareth MCauley is a doubt with a calf/shin injury. Rickie Lambert could make his first start for the club in attack.

Manchester City may be without David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero through illness but they are expected to shake it off to feature. Yaya Toure picked up a knock to the head playing Real Madrid so is a doubt. Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy are both out. Raheem Sterling is expected to start.

Key Points

West Brom’s preseason form: L/L/W/W/W/W/W

Manchester City’s preseason form: W/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester City have won their last seven matches against West Brom in the Premier League.

Key Player: Raheem Sterling – £49 million can get you a lot, but Sterling could be worth that fee come the end of the season. His speed across ten yards could cause the Baggies some serious problems on Monday night.

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Score Prediction

West Brom 1-1 Manchester City – We’re expecting West Brom to be hard to beat this season but Manchester City are still a superpower in the Premier League and should be beating everyone. That said, we’re expecting a score draw to ease both sides into the new season.

2015/16 Premier League Predictions: Winners, losers and everything between

The 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season is just a couple of days away as one of the most hotly anticipated days in the football calendar edges ever closer. But for those looking past the opening round of fixtures, there’s another long campaign ahead with drama, thrills and spills guaranteed.

New teams, managers and players have arrived ahead of what looks set to be a close-run season at either end of the table, with sides strengthening across the division over the course of the summer.

The Premier League is almost impossible to predict, but we’re going to have a go anyway because who doesn’t like to sit back at the end of the season and think: ‘Wow. I didn’t see that coming.’

Will Chelsea retain their title? Will Harry Kane manage to replicate his scintillating form from last year? And will Sunderland ever go down? Read on to find out what our editor, Louis East is predicting for the 2015/16 Premier League campaign:

Title winners: Chelsea

Chelsea fully deserved their success last season as they ended up winning the title by eight points, despite a relatively poor end to the campaign by Jose Mourinho’s high standards. They may not have changed too much over the summer, but they didn’t need to. They were easily the best side in the country last time out and should be too strong once more, although they can expect to be pushed right to the end by Manchester City, Arsenal and possibly Manchester United.

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Relegated:  Norwich, Watford & Leicester

Always difficult predicting who will go down before a ball has even been kicked, but three teams have to be selected here. It’s easy to go with all three promoted sides but I’m expecting Bournemouth to hold their own in the top flight and so I think Leicester City will join Watford and Norwich in falling through the trapdoor. Without Nigel Pearson, the Foxes were doomed last year. Now he’s gone, it’s hard to see them staying up. Sunderland are always lingering near the danger zone but Dick Advocaat looked to turn things around and they should survive yet again.

Player of the season: Wayne Rooney

Eden Hazard lit the Premier League up last term but hasn’t looked as sharp so far in preseason and Wayne Rooney’s opportunity to play as the lone striker should see him pick up his first Player of the Year award since the 2009-10 season. He played as a striker that year, netting 26 times, and the England captain should find himself at the heart of everything United do going forward this year as they look to be serious title contenders once more.

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Best young player: Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling’s controversial move from Liverpool to Manchester City has seen the player attract plenty of criticism from those in and around football, but his quality cannot be questioned. Still just 20, Sterling has the opportunity to kick on and develop further at City and will look to record his best season yet under Manuel Pellegrini this year.

Golden Boot: Harry Kane

Few could have predicted what Harry Kane went on to achieve during the 2014/15 campaign but the young Spurs forward ended the year with 21 league goals and didn’t even establish himself as a first-team regular until October. He now has a full season to shine and should better his goal tally. Many are predicting his performances will dip, but he only seemed to improve last year and will be a better player from his experiences.

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Surprise package: AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth won the Championship in fine style last year, scoring more goals than anyone else with the second best defence in the league. The jump to the Premier League is a big one but there is a sense of real optimism around the club that they can hold their own in the top flight. Eddie Howe is a great young coach and should guide his team well clear of relegation as they look to be this season’s surprise package.

Shock of the season: Brendan Rodgers first to be sacked

Life as Liverpool manager has been tough for Brendan Rodgers. After narrowly missing out on Premier League glory in the 2013/14 season, the Reds dropped down to end last year in sixth, with that final day 6-1 defeat to Stoke one the fans were left devastated by. They start this season at the Britannia but Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling have gone and will leave Rodgers with further problems to fix. A flurry of new signings have arrived again but Rodgers might not have long enough to get them to gel this time around with pressure mounting rapidly.

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Signing of the season: Dimitri Payet

It was tough to neglect Petr Cech here as the goalkeeper will make Arsenal a much better side, but overall I think Dimitri Payet will prove more important to West Ham than Cech will to Arsenal this year. Payet arrives at the Hammers from Marseille off the back of a stellar season in France as he picked up 17 assists with seven goals in 36 league games. Only Lionel Messi made more successful through-balls in Europe’s top five leagues than Payet and he should ensure West Ham have a year to remember in what will be their last at the Boleyn Ground.

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Manager of the year: Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes has done a fine job with Stoke since taking over from Tony Pulis two years ago and doesn’t always receive the praise he deserves. Another fine summer of transfer business has seen the Potters strengthen with the likes of Glen Johnson, Marko Van Ginkel and Ibrahim Afellay arriving. Add that to the fact that Bojan will be back fighting and Hughes should have a Stoke side capable of replicating the stunning performance of Southampton last year.

What are your predictions for the 2015/16 Premier League season?

STATS: Why Raheem Sterling will be City’s best playmaker next season

Raheem Sterling finally sealed his protracted Liverpool exit as Manchester City confirmed the signing of the 20-year-old England international for a club record £49 million on a five-year deal yesterday afternoon.

“I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait,” Sterling said after completing the move. “The more quality players around you, the more quality it brings out in you.”

The £49 million paid for his services makes Sterling the most expensive English footballer in history as well as the most expensive under-21 player in world football so there’s clearly a lot of pressure riding on his young shoulders.

Sterling will wear the No.7 shirt for City next season – a squad number usually given to those expected to create plenty of chances – and that’s exactly what the pacey winger will expect to do.

He enjoyed his best season in terms of chance creation last time out as he made a total of 68 key passes (via Squawka) for Liverpool – 22 more than in the previous campaign.

Though he did fail to find the net as frequently as the 2013/14 season as he ended last term with seven goals, two less than he bagged a year earlier.

Raheem Sterling's goal, assist and key pass output over last three seasons with Liverpool (stats via Squawka)

Chart 1: Raheem Sterling’s goal, assist and key pass output over last three seasons with Liverpool (stats via Squawka)

The graph above shows that Sterling’s performances have generally improved in the Premier League over each of the last three seasons, with those two goals dropping from 2014 to 2015 the only blip.

However, his playing time has changed significantly over the past three years and so a better way to look at his improvement would be to assess his data per 90 minutes.

Raheem Sterling's goal contribution and chances created per 90 minutes over last three seasons with Liverpool

Chart 2: Raheem Sterling’s goal contribution and chances created per 90 minutes over last three seasons with Liverpool

It’s clear that Sterling has improved as a playmaker with each season. He was creating an average of 2.2 chances per 90 minutes last term – more than any other Reds player – and will expect to go better again in a City shirt this year.

Referring back to Chart 1 shows us Sterling made 11 more key passes between the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, before making 22 more key passes between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.

That would suggest he is on track to make 33 more in the upcoming season, so long as his playing time doesn’t drop too significantly under Manuel Pellegrini, which would see him make around 101 key passes with about ten assists.

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No City player made more than eight assists last season (Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero were tied on that number), while David Silva led the key pass total with 86.

If Sterling sees regular playing time, it looks likely he will reward the trust City have placed in him by creating more chances than any of his teammates.

The fact that he is playing with a world-class striker in Aguero every week will only help his cause and it will be fascinating to see how the young England star adapts in his first season at the Etihad.

Will Raheem Sterling be Manchester City’s best playmaker next season?

 

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: City close on £100m double deal, United spending exceeds £80m

Daily transfer roundup (Monday, July 13)

MLS Rumours

Former Sunderland defender John Mensah is set for a trial at Sporting Kansas City as he looks for a new club with teams from the middle east also interested. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours

Manchester City have agreed a £49 million deal with Liverpool for the transfer of Raheem Sterling. He is expected to be unveiled as a City player in the next 48 hours. (REPORT)

And City won’t stop there as a move for £50 million-rated Kevin De Bruyne is believed to be close as Txiki Begiristain is due to hold further talks with Wolfsburg and De Bruyne’s representatives in an effort to seal a deal. (REPORT)

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West Ham are working on a deal to bring former Arsenal winger Gervinho to Upton Park on loan with the option to buy him for £10 million at the end of the loan spell. (REPORT)

Done Deals

Manchester United have completed the signings of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, with both immediately travelling to the USA for United’s preseason tour, taking the Red Devils’ summer spending over £80 million. (REPORT)

Tottenham’s Grant Ward, who spent time on loan with Chicago Fire in 2014, has joined Rotherham on a short-term loan deal. (REPORT)

Stoke City have sold Asmir Begovic to Chelsea in a deal believed to be worth £8 million. (REPORT)

Bournemouth have signed Italy U20 left-back Filippo Costa from Chievo on a season-long loan. (REPORT)

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: United £45m DONE DEAL, Liverpool star exit looming?

Daily transfer roundup (Friday, July 10)

MLS Rumours

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is still hoping for a move to Major League Soccer after turning down the chance to stay in Europe with FC Porto. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours

Manchester United‘s Angel Di Maria has reportedly agreed a deal in principle to leave the club for Paris Saint Germain in a £45 million deal. (REPORT)

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Manchester City are set to make a third bid for Liverpool‘s Raheem Sterling. City have already had two offers for the Englishman declined. (REPORT)

Arsenal‘s David Ospina is considering a move to Everton. The Colombian is uncertain of his future at the club since the arrival of Petr Cech from Chelsea. (REPORT)

Done Deals

Crystal Palace have announced the signing of former Newcastle United star Yohan Cabaye. The Paris Saint Germain man will join for a club record fee of £10 million. (REPORT)

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: Liverpool star to Chelsea, Manchester United close in on striker

Daily transfer roundup (Monday, June 15)

MLS Rumours

New York City FC could be on the verge of signing two Spanish full-backs in the next few weeks as Athletic Bilbao’s Iraola and Manchester City’s Angelino are both expected to sign. (REPORT)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks unlikely to join any MLS side. The goal-machine previously said he would be interested in a move to America but now wants a move back to AC Milan. (REPORT)

Ronaldinho is set to meet with Turkish Lig’s Antalyaspor, distancing him from an MLS move. The former Ballon d’Or winner had been linked with LA Galaxy. (REPORT)

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Premier League Rumours

Chelsea are interested in signing Liverpool starlet, Raheem Sterling, but are not willing to stump up the £50m asking price for the 20-year-old winger. (REPORT)

Manchester United are closing in on Mario Mandzukic. Louis Van Gaal has previously coached the forward during his time at Bayern Munich and is keen on linking up with him again. (REPORT)

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Jackson Martinez is set to decide his future in the coming days. The Columbian has been linked with a move to Arsenal but reports have suggested he has already signed for AC Milan. (REPORT)