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Sunderland among clubs keen on Jermain Defoe?

Sunderland are reportedly among EFL clubs trying to sign former Rangers striker Jermain Defoe on a free transfer. (Author: Gardener)

Jermain DefoeEarlier this month, the 39-year-old was allowed to leave Rangers on a free transfer, giving him an opportunity to find a new club for the remainder of the season. His free agent status leaves Defoe free to sign for another team after Monday's transfer deadline, but apparently two clubs have already got in touch. Oxford are also said to be monitoring the situation as both clubs seek promotion from League One this season.

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The Black Cats win the battle to sign the Fleetwood midfielder

SUNDERLAND finalize deal for Fleetwood Towns midfielder Jay Matete. (Author: Gardener)

FleetwoodSUNDERLAND finalize deal for Fleetwood Towns midfielder Jay Matete. Ipswich Town have also had talks about Matete, but sources close to the talks claim the Suffolk club have admitted defeat in pursuit of the 20-year-old before now being convinced he will join Sunderland. A strong and athletic presence in central midfield, Lambeth-born Matete started his career at Reading academy but switched to Fleetwood's youth line-up in 2019, leading the club last season. Sunderland lacked central midfield options for much of the season, with Luke O'Nien, Corry Evans and Carl Winchester all suffering from injury woes.

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Why is Messi wearing number 10 for PSG against Nice? French jersey number tradition explained

Fans will see Lionel Messi wear the famous No.10 shirt again for Monday's game against Nice due to a French Cup rule (Author: Gardener)

FrenchParis Saint-Germain meet Nice in the French Cup round of 16 and you might be wondering why Lionel Messi didn't get the No. 30 shirt - and instead will wear his old iconic No. 10 shirt, which he preferred during his time for Barcelona. GOAL has everything you need to know about why Messi wears the shirt usually occupied by Neymar and more. Messi wears the No.10 for PSG against Nice due to a French Cup tradition that says the 11 starting players must wear numbers 1-11 in the round of 16. By the game, the No.10 was awarded to Messi. The Argentine currently wears the No. 30 shirt for PSG as Neymar occupies the No. 10. Neymar will not feature in the Nice game as he is currently recovering from a sprained left ankle and ligament damage sustained in a Ligue 1 game against Saint-Etienne in November. With Neymar not set to play Nice, the number 10 shirt has been temporarily released for Messi to only wear tonight in the French Cup clash. The fact that Messi is playing for the Blaugrana in the No.10 shirt only adds to the special nature of today's occasion. Assuming PSG advance to the next round of the French Cup and Neymar is fit again, it's understood that the Brazilian will get his No.10 shirt back - meaning Messi will have to borrow another shirt number again, at least temporarily, should both come in game before. PSG's #1 through #10 shirts are all taken, meaning Messi (assuming he plays in the next game) will have to swap shirt numbers again. Messi will forever be one of Barcelona's most legendary No10s, his legendary status at the club is synonymous with his shirt number. The Argentine started his first-team career with Barcelona and scored his first senior goal for the club, wearing the number 30, before switching to the number 19 after establishing himself as a regular in the side. Messi has spoken about the impact Ronaldinho has had on his career, particularly as he guided him through the transition to the senior squad. "He [Ronaldinho] was a big help," Messi told Barcelona's official website in 2013. “Before he left the club, [Ronaldinho] had a few months to think things over. Messi took the No. 30 shirt after signing for PSG as a tribute to the first shirt number he wore for Barcelona.

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Dante knocks off Donnarumma with ice-cold panenka as Nice take PSG out of the Coupe de France

PSG were eliminated on penalties in the Nice Coupe de France (Author: Gardener)

DonnarummaIt's no secret that PSG scoop the vast majority of trophies in French football, but Mauricio Pochettino will not have a double this season despite his side's relative dominance in Ligue 1. PSG hosted Nice in the Coupe de France round of 16 on Monday night in a game that cemented the return of Lionel Messi, who has previously struggled for the club in domestic matches. But much like PSG and Nice met at the Parc des Princes earlier this season, there wasn't much to report in regulation time as neither side managed to break out of the deadlock. Thus, the two French giants again played a goalless draw in the capital, with a penalty shoot-out required to see which team would advance to the quarter-finals. It's no secret that shootouts are something of a sports lottery and the football gods would never give PSG preferential treatment despite the embarrassment of wealth in their squad. The same cannot be said for Leandro Paredes, however, whose miss opened the door for Nice before dying, but Gianluigi Dunnarumma came to the rescue by thwarting Andy Delort. As such, the penalty shootout developed into increasingly nerve-wracking territory, with the tension eventually culminating in Dante advancing to take Nice's seventh penalty of the night. And while you should never judge a book by its cover, football clichés mean that a 38-year-old centre-back who decides to panenka in a sudden exchange of gunfire just never happens. And it proved to be the straw that broke PSG's camel's back as they failed to respond to Dante's deft attempt and eventually missed Xavi Simons from 12 yards to give Nice victory. It felt like a cruel moment considering Simons, 18, is literally 20 years younger than Dante, but penalty shootouts are about the most brutal thing in football and boy do PSG know it. Nice will now be in the last 16 of the Coupe de France continue while PSG look to regroup and focus on lifting the Ligue 1 and Champions League crowns in the next three months.

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Shrewsbury signs Bondswell and Flanagan

Shrewsbury have signed Sunderland's Tom Flanagan on two-and-a-half years and Newcastle teenager Matthew Bondswell on loan. (Author: Gardener)

ShrewsburyLast updated on .By the Shrewsbury section Last updated on .By the Shrewsbury section Shrewsbury Town boss Steve Cotterill has increased his signings for the January transfer window to four by signing two new defenders on deadline day. They follow two loanees, Bristol City striker Saikou Janneh and Nottingham Forest midfielder Tyrese Fornah. The Northern Ireland international started his career at MK Dons and spent time on loan at Kettering, Gillingham, Barnet, Stevenage and Plymouth Argyle before joining Burton Albion in 2015 and Sunderland in 2018. Bondswell was on the books of Nottingham Forest as a youngster before being signed by German club RB Leipzig at 16 and also playing for Dutch second division side FC Dordrecht. Shrewsbury has also seen three departures on deadline. Sam Cosgrove has been recalled to parent club Birmingham City before being loaned back to join Town's relegation strugglers AFC Wimbledon - and fellow striker Rekeil Pyke has joined Scunthorpe. Champion club Swansea City then completed the signing of left-back Nathanael Ogbeta before Monday night's deadline.

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Sunderland are set to announce the transfer soon as the former striker makes an emotional return

Sunderland are set to announce the signing of the free agent to a deal through the end of the season, boosting his hopes of promotion significantly (Author: Gardener)

the end of the seasonJermain Defoe's return to Sunderland is set to be announced shortly. The 39-year-old has been in talks with the Black Cats all month but the departure of Lee Johnson has reignited the deal. The former Sunderland boss was understood to be lukewarm about the prospect of Defoe's return. But as reported by i earlier this month, the player was keen to return to Wearside following his surprise departure from Rangers and has stuck by Sunderland's offer. A source close to the deal confirmed the move is now "very close" and his return to the Black Cats should be confirmed before the transfer deadline. The news will give Sunderland a much-needed boost after a weekend in which they lost 6-0 to Bolton in what was a major setback to their promotion hopes. The return of Defoe - on a short-term contract until the end of the season - is seen as a way to improve their forward options while bringing some experience and know-how to the squad. The Black Cats are now considering expressions of interest in their managerial position after Lee Johnson was sacked over the weekend. Owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is understood to be directly involved in finding Johnson's successor.

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Sunderland make new approaches to Jermain Defoe and are confident of completing the deal

SUNDERLAND have reconnected with Jermain Defoe - and are increasingly confident of being able to confirm the forward's return to the Stadium of Light later in the day. (Author: Gardener)

Jermain DefoeSUNDERLAND have reconnected with Jermain Defoe - and are increasingly confident of being able to confirm the forward's return to the Stadium of Light later in the day. Defoe is expected to sign as player-manager by the end of the season when he is expected to announce his retirement from playing. Sunderland have had a number of talks with Defoe and his representatives in recent weeks, but former head coach Lee Johnson had reservations about signing the 39-year-old and a move has been put on hold. Johnson wasn't sure Defoe could play just nine minutes of senior football for Rangers this season, but his sacking after Saturday's 6-0 defeat at Bolton immediately changed the landscape. With Johnson out of the picture, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Kristjaan Speakman have pushed ahead with their original plans to sign Defoe, who played for Sunderland in the Premier League between 2015-17. Oxford United have also had a number of talks with Defoe and his representatives, but the veteran striker has always preferred to return to Sunderland, where he had a special bond with the club's supporters during his previous spell at the Stadium of Light.

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Sunderland transfer news: Black Cats strike deals with Kongolo and Matete

SUNDERLAND are expected to have a busy end of the transfer window, with deals on the table for Fulham centre-back Terence Kongolo and Fleetwood Towns midfielder Jay Matete. (Author: Gardener)

KongoloSUNDERLAND are expected to have a busy end of the transfer window, with deals on the table for Fulham centre-back Terence Kongolo and Fleetwood Towns midfielder Jay Matete. And if both deals can go through before the 11pm transfer deadline then it's looking increasingly likely that Tom Flanagan and Lynden Gooch could be a surprise departure from the Black Cats squad. Kongolo is a 27-year-old Dutch international who played for Feyenoord and Monaco before moving into English football at Huddersfield Town. He's had his injury troubles with the Cottagers and has made just one league appearance for the current leaders all season. Ipswich Town have also had talks about Matete, but sources close to the talks claim the Suffolk club have admitted defeat in pursuit of the 20-year-old before now being convinced he will join Sunderland. A strong and athletic presence in central midfield, Lambeth-born Matete started his career at Reading academy but switched to Fleetwood's youth line-up in 2019, making the move to Wearside before the 11pm deadline tonight. If both Kongolo and Matete come, there's a good chance Flanagan and Gooch will be the players who will make room in the roster. Like Aiden O'Brien, whose departure to Portsmouth was confirmed in the last half hour, both Flanagan and Gooch have entered the last six months of their current contracts.

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Mick McCarthy interested in Sunderland return as door reopens for Jermain Defoe

Sunderland fired Johnson on Sunday night after a 6-0 loss to Bolton and want a quick appointment (Author: Gardener)

Mick McCarthyMick McCarthy is interested in the Sunderland vacancy and contact has been made with the Black Cats hierarchy. Sunderland sacked Lee Johnson on Sunday night after a 6-0 defeat at Bolton that has been branded as one of the worst in club history. Despite Sunderland being just two points from the top of League One, there have been reservations within the club hierarchy over the club's recent form and a feeling that they are underachieving with the resources at Johnson's disposal. Well placed in the promotion race, the Black Cats will play six games in three weeks in February. Sporting director Kristjaan Speakman and owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus will lead the recruitment process and the highly experienced McCarthy looks like a decent quick fix that has seen teams rise to the top in the past. In fact, McCarthy is said to be ready to take on the role by the end of the season in a bid to secure promotion - which is Sunderland's expectation this year. Other options include Grant McCann, who was sacked by Hull City last week but guided the club to promotion last season, and Paul Cook, who left Ipswich Town earlier this season. McCarthy has been off the game since leaving Cardiff but is keen to get back into management and is no stranger to the expectations of Wearside. McCarthy managed Sunderland for three years between 2003 and 2006, winning promotion to the Premier League on a reduced budget. He has subsequently managed Wolves, Ireland, Ipswich and the Bluebirds and has the credentials when Sunderland want to make a quick appointment with the ability to galvanize the dressing room. Johnson was lukewarm towards the forward and there were reservations in Defoe's camp about signing without the prospect of playing much.

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Neil Lennon new favorite for next Sunderland manager as Grant McCann also among contenders

Neil Lennon is now the favorite to become the next Sunderland manager after being endorsed for the role by a former rival. (Author: Gardener)

Neil LennonGrant McCann and Neil Lennon are among the names in line to become the next Sunderland manager. Grant McCann and Neil Lennon are among the names in line to become the next Sunderland manager. Neil Lennon is now the favorite to become the next Sunderland manager after being endorsed for the role by a former rival. The Black Cats defeated Lee Johnson on Sunday after a streak of just one win in five games, culminating in a 6-0 win at Bolton Wanderers over the weekend. Despite this drop in form, Sunderland are third in League One, although top two Rotherham and Wigan have both games in hand in the North East. The early favorite was Everton legend Duncan Ferguson but everything changed when it became clear new Toffees boss Frank Lampard would keep the Scot as part of his coaching ticket at Goodison Park. Lennon then emerged as the new favorite at odds of 2/1. The Lurgan man has been out of the managerial game for almost a year, without a club since leaving Celtic in February. He won ten trophies, including five league titles, during two stints as Bhoys manager and led Hibernian to the 2017 Scottish league title. His only previous managerial stint in England was a 17-month stint at Bolton, which was marred by the club's financial difficulties. Now he's even been endorsed for the job with the Black Cats by Old Firm foe and friend Ally McCoist, who spoke on TalkSport on the links. "Is not that great?" asked McCoist, who spent two years as a Sunderland player in the early 1980s. And Lee Johnson (gets fired), really weird. But if Neil gets it then obviously it's for the very best for him, this is my old team. Last month, Lennon said he was open to exploring a number of options to return to management. "I don't want to get comfortable because I miss management and ideally I'd like to come back at some point," he said. Football is a results-driven business but you are there to entertain and that was always my thought when stepping into the role at Celtic both times. My teams have always scored a lot of goals and I've made a profit from player sales at every club I've been to, even at Bolton, which was obviously difficult. I love the Spanish game, I also enjoy Major League Soccer. I've recovered well, feeling fresh and looking forward to any challenge that lies ahead.” Grant McCann (3/1) would bring the latest know-how in escaping England's third tier after beating Hull City in the past season had led to the League One title. He was sacked by the Tigers just last week following a club takeover and has also managed Doncaster and Peterborough in League One. Should either McCann or Lennon get the job, it would further strengthen the Northern Ireland connection at the Stadium of Light, with internationals Tom Flanagan, Corry Evans and Carl Winchester in the squad, along with newly signed former Linfield full-back Trai Hume. Former Aston Villa assistant John Terry currently leads McCann at 5/2, Ferguson at 4/1 and Mick McCarthy at 8/1.

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