Copa crash sees Barcelona joining list to sign Alvaro Morata
Barcelona discovered in the Copa del Rey on Thursday that only having the single striker on the books - Luis Suarez - and then not playing him is not a sound tactical plan. Yes, technically speaking, Munir is a striker, but the forward is on the brink of a move to Sevilla.
A 2-1 defeat at Levante and 20 midfielders in the squad has apparently sharpened a few minds at the Camp Nou to see Barcelona now being linked with a loan move for Alvaro Morata. That's the spin of Spanish daily, Sport, on Friday. It sounds nuts, but it could happen. Why not?
Should the interest in Morata be real for Barcelona, then the club would be joining a long list of potential suitors for the player, who, let's not forget, is not exactly in the best of form these days and low on confidence. Those spirits would surely not be best helped by 80,000 Barca fans booing the player for both missing easy chances and being very much a Real Madrid man through and through.
The Locker Room will dig into the worlds of both Barcelona and Real Madrid and make sense of it all at 7:30PM ET / 4:30PM PT. And the weekend’s round of action in La Liga gets underway live on beIN SPORTS at 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT with Rayo hosting Celta Vigo.
Solsjkaer plays in game of destiny against Spurs
Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has spoken today about taking on a managerial rival on Sunday with Manchester United facing Tottenham Hotspur in what is being seen as the first real test for the temporary Norwegian coach who cannot a-fjord to lose this clash.
At stake, aside from a charge towards the top four is bragging rights over a vacant permanent Old Trafford job that Solsjkaer has repeatedly said he wants, but Mauricio Pochettino is expected to get, should he so desire - "the speculation is there for a reason," noted the current Manchester United boss who has recalled Paul Pogba back to the squad after injury.
Meanwhile, the main concern for the Spurs boss is when the club can finally move into its much-delayed revamped stadium. It would be fair to say that Pochettino is keen on getting out of Wembley – “to move to our new stadium will be massive, massive for our fans. I cannot wait to move.”
The XTRA will bring you all the biggest news of the day and the best of the action at 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
Icardi out and Pogba in on Serie A transfer train
Right, time to dig into a Serie A crazy carousel of transfer shenanigans. And this is getting a little complicated.
Chelsea has reportedly had their request to take Gonzalo Higuain on loan until the end of the season rebuffed by both Milan - the club the Argentinean doesn't score goals for - and Juventus, the club that owns the forward. The Old Lady wants a permanent deal. Chelsea don't. But Chelsea also wants a replacement for the departing Morata (as seen above)
Chelsea-Higuain contacts ongoing uninterrupted.— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 11, 2019
So far still huge distance on financial and contractual terms
Juve also want Paul Pogba back according to Tuttosport, and will be willing to trade Manchester United Douglas Costa in return.
Inter is planning for the possible summer departure of Mauro Icardi. The Argentinean forward's current deal with the Serie A side lasts until 2021, but negotiations have not gone particularly well. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are both suitors for the poacher who spent three years in the Barca youth system. According to Tuttosport again, Inter would make a move for Juve's Paulo Dybala should Icardi depart.
The Sports Burst live show will try and make sense of all this. Just head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET / 9AM PT for 15 minutes of fun.
Andy Murray reveals Australian Open retirement plans
Over to tennis now and an understandably emotional Andy Murray revealed on Friday that he could be on the brink on playing his last tennis game as a professional.
Andy, just watched your conference. Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well. 🙏— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) January 11, 2019
The tearful Scotsman was talking to the media ahead of the Australian Open and said that constant pain from a hip injury may see him retiring afterwards, although Murray hopes to make it to Wimbledon, a tournament he has won on two occasions - "there is a chance that the Australian Open is my last."
Murray played just 12 matches in 2018 after undergoing surgery at the beginning of the year. "I'm not sure I can play through the pain for the next four or five months," admitted the 31-year-old who revealed that he even has problems putting on his shoes and socks. "It would be nice to be able to do (these things) without any pain," said the three-times Grand Slam champion who has since received support and backing from fellow professionals.