Nike leak Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho's move to Barcelona

David Cooper 31/12/2017
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Nike have seemingly jumped the gun in announcing Barcelona’s acquisition of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

The sportswear giant and Barcelona apparel sponsor advertised customisation of the 2017/18 kit using the Brazilian on their online store.

The caption read: “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017-18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician’s name on it. Act fast – free personalisation only available until 6 January.”

Nike later deleted the page and no further comment has been made with many left wondering if it was a PR blunder or online hacking.

Coutinho is widely expected to join the Catalan giants having failed to complete a switch in the summer.

A bid of £115million was turned down by Liverpool but reports have suggested their stance is softening as Barca prepare another bid in January.

The 25-year-old has been in stunning form since handing in a summer transfer request, scoring seven Premier League goals and adding a further six assists.

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Man United reportedly target Cristiano Ronaldo amid talks of Real Madrid rift

Alex Rea 31/12/2017
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Ronaldo rift? Man United are linked with their former star

The transfer window is open tomorrow so cue the rumour mill kicking into high gear.

Here, we take a look at the biggest stories dominating the headlines today.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Let us know your thoughts.

Get in touch via Twitter and Facebook.

CRISTIANO RONALDO 

Manchester United are monitoring the future of Cristiano Ronaldo after reports of a clash between the Portugal captain and senior Real Madrid figures.

According to the Mirror, the relationship between Ronaldo and club president Florentino Perez has broken down, igniting talk of an exit.

RATING: 5/10

VERDICT

It seems we’ve just returned to last summer. It should be viewed as no coincidence Lionel Messi put pen to paper on a huge new deal recently and anytime the Argentine receives a pay rise, rumours of a Ronaldo exit begin to surface.

If, and it is a huge if, Ronaldo was to leave, United are the best-placed to lure him away from the Spanish capital with secret trips to England to review private schools for his son also being reported.

We’ll see if rumours gather any momentum but it would seem we haven’t learnt our lesson from the previous transfer window.

YERRY MINA

Palmeiras have upped their asking price for defender Yerry Mina as Barcelona’s bid to sign the Colombia international looks set to drag on.

According to Sport, Barca’s offer of €2million on top of the initial €9m paid out as a first option last summer has been rejected as the two clubs continue their drawn out negotiations.

RATING: 6/10

VERDICT

The deal was thought to be all but signed last month with Mina set to move to Camp Nou in the summer. However, Javier Mascherano’s imminent transfer to China has Barca hoping to tie up a switch in January but Palmeiras want the Spanish giants to respect the initial agreement.

There is optimism a €14m offer will secure his services, though.

Palmeiras defender Yerry Mina

Palmeiras defender Yerry Mina

KEMAR LAWRENCE

A trio of European clubs are interested in signing New York Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence, reports Turkish newspaper Gunebakis.

Monaco, Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor are all angling for a $2million transfer.

RATING: 7/10

VERDICT

Lawrence played every minute of Jamaica’s last two CONCACAF Gold Cup campaigns, where the Reggae Boyz finished as runners up both in 2015 and 2017, and contributed to New York’s MLS campaign which saw them finish as semi-finalists in the Eastern Conference Playoff.

The 25-year-old’s agent has confirmed interest from Europe and admits if the price is right he would be willing to leave the US.

Kemar Lawrence in action for New York Red Bulls

Kemar Lawrence in action for New York Red Bulls

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More to come from Salah and Liverpool defenders shouldn't be nervous, says Klopp

Carl Markham 30/12/2017
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Mohamed Salah is brought off after his double against Leicester

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned Premier League opponents Mohamed Salah can still get better despite the Egypt international’s record-equalling first half of the season.

The 25-year-old summer signing took his tally to 23, matching Roger Hunt’s 1961-62 club record of goals before the new year, with both goals as the Reds came from behind to beat Leicester 2-1.

Salah has scored 17 in the Premier League, one behind Tottenham’s Harry Kane, and averages a goal every 94 minutes. However, Klopp sees much more room for improvement.

“Yes, he can keep that standard, for sure. He is still a young player, he can improve,” the German said.

“It’s not about scoring only, it’s about other situations as well. He’s so important for us but he knows and I know that he couldn’t score if he didn’t have the fantastic support of all the other boys.

“We played fantastic passes. Sadio Mane’s idea (a back-heel) in the moment before Mo scored the first goal I don’t think a lot of people in the stadium saw that it would be an opportunity. That was really important.”

Conceding a goal after just three minutes to Jamie Vardy – his seventh in eight appearances against the Reds – immediately led to the television director at Anfield cutting to shots of Virgil van Dijk in the directors’ box.

Liverpool's new defender Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool’s new defender Virgil van Dijk

The goal came from a mistake by Joel Matip, who is vying with Dejan Lovren to become Van Dijk’s central defensive partner when the Holland international signs from Southampton for £75million on Monday.

However, Klopp says his players should embrace the arrival of the world’s costliest defender.

“That’s part of professional football,” he said. “The really good players will always say that the challenge with other players for a position in the team will always help you.

“We cannot go in a season with two centre-halves and hope nothing happens. The third one is already logical and if you have a fourth one then it’s even better.

“I don’t think the boys were nervous. I couldn’t see anything like that.

“They don’t have any reason to be nervous because I’m really happy about the development of these players.

“But we have to obviously fight and battle with the biggest teams in world football, so we cannot go there with a group of 11 and being best friends every day.”

Salah’s two goals left Leicester boss Claude Puel frustrated after his side had done well to restrict their hosts for almost an hour.

“Of course it is a big disappointment at the end because we were leading for a long time,” he said.

“In the first half we defended well with quality and perhaps we needed to keep the ball a little more but we created some problems for them and it was a fantastic start.

“The player who made the difference this afternoon was Salah. The second goal was not a chance – he created it himself with his quality.

“We played (against) a good team with fantastic players who make the difference.

“I think we deserved something because of our togetherness and I am frustrated for my squad.

“Now it is important to look forward and recover for the next game on Monday (at home to Huddersfield).”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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