Sevilla confident of loan for Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi - sources
MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho has admitted Henrikh Mkhitaryan's absence from the Manchester United squad against Stoke is because the Armenian's future is up in the air, amid speculation he could be part of the deal to bring Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.
Mkhitaryan was with the United squad on Monday afternoon after Mourinho insisted at his news conference on Friday that the 28-year-old would be involved against Stoke.
But he was left out of the squad and Mourinho revealed it was because there are "doubts" about the midfielder's future.
"I would lie if I said it was a pure tactical decision," he told Sky Sports. "It's just a choice of players that we know at this moment have 100 percent their heads in Manchester United and no doubts about the future.
"It is not easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. Best for him, best for us."
Mkhitaryan has been mentioned as a possible makeweight in the deal to sign Sanchez, who is set to leave Arsenal this month.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Arsenal asked United about Anthony Martial's availability, but that the enquiry was dismissed out of hand before the Gunners turned their attention to Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan joined United from Borussia Dortmund in a £26 million move 18 months ago but has started just two of the last 15 games.
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.
The Premier League has the highest cumulative attendance in Europe, the English Football League gets the biggest gates outside the top tiers but the Scottish Premiership leads the way on a per capita basis.
These are among the findings in the European Professional Football Leagues' (EPFL) second Fan Attendance Report, which was published on Monday.
The Swiss-based organisation, which represents the interests of 32 leagues in 25 countries, has measured crowds at games over sevens seasons from 2010-11 to 2016-17.
Germany's Bundesliga has the highest average gates per game during this period, with an average of 42,388. The Premier League is second on 35,870, with Spain's La Liga nearly 10,000 behind, Italy's Serie A fourth and Ligue 1 of France in fifth.
The Championship is seventh in this list on 17,856, slightly ahead of Bundesliga 2, but comfortably clear of Russia's top flight and the Scottish Premiership in 10th place.
Scotland's top flight, however, comes top in Europe when you consider the size of the country's population, and that is despite attendances in the Scottish Premiership falling nearly 3 percent over the period, a potential result of Rangers' difficulties.
Attendances are actually down 1.5 percent across Europe over the past seven years, with 16 of 24 countries measured experiencing falls and only nine seeing increases.
Gates in Greece, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine have all fallen by double-digit percentages -- a reflection of their nations' economic and political difficulties over the period.
England is one of those nine to see crowds go up, however, and the English Football League is by far the most successful league outside the continent's premier divisions. League One is 19th in terms of average attendance on 7,306 and League Two 26th on 4,559.
England's fourth tier gets higher average crowds than the first tiers in Finland, Greece, Kazakhstan and Serbia.
With 74 games a season more than the Bundesliga, the Premier League has the biggest annual cumulative crowd with 13.6 million fans, more than 600,000 clear of its German rival. La Liga is third but the Championship is only just behind in fourth.
The Premier League is also top when it comes to what the EPFL describes as "utilisation,'' or the percentage of tickets sold per game. England's top-flight grounds are typically 95 percent full, a comfortable lead over the Bundesliga's 91 percent and the 88 percent figure in the Netherlands' Eredivisie.
In the foreword to its study, the EPFL said: "Numerous clubs have improved their stadium capacity and level of comfort across Europe.
"The new arenas developed in Poland and in France for Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, respectively, contributed significantly to boost the figures registered in their leagues. We envisage Russia may well experience a similar trend after the upcoming World Cup.
"While there was a substantial increase in attendance in Israel, Sweden and Belgium, unfortunately football fans have not been immune to the adverse impact of financial and geopolitical crises that have been affecting countries such as Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey.
"Notwithstanding that, the cumulative leagues' attendance remained stable during this six-year period and more than 120 million football fans filled the European leagues' stadiums during the 2016-2017 season.''
Tottenham have recalled United States international Cameron Carter-Vickers from a loan spell at Sheffield United, while Spurs winger Marcus Edwards has joined Norwich on loan for the rest of the season.
Carter-Vickers moved to the second-tier club on a season-long loan in August, but Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino wants him back him with his parent club.
He played 17 times for the Blades in the Championship, scoring on his full debut against Bolton, and he made his full U.S. debut in a November friendly.
Carter-Vickers started four Spurs matches in the domestic cups last season and, ahead of his debut against Gillingham, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said he could become "one of the best centre-backs in the country."
Last month, Pochettino hinted at recalling the 20-year-old, saying the decision would be "more about his development than if we need or don't need some more centre-backs in the squad."
Pochettino added: "The decision will be together with John [McDermott, head of coaching and development], Dean [Rastrick, academy manager] and Steve [Hitchen, chief scout] and of course the club.
"We are trying to provide the player [with] the solution, but not because maybe we need to cover the position."
Edwards, 19, also made his senior debut as a substitute in the 5-0 EFL Cup third-round win over Gillingham in Sept. 2016 and was a member of England's European Under-19 Championship squad in July last year.
Pochettino has compared the prodigal winger to Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.
Sevilla are confident of securing a loan move for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, sources close to the Spanish club have told ESPN FC.
La Liga outfit Sevilla are looking to bolster their striking options during this month's transfer window and they have targeted a move for out-of-favour Batshuayi.
Batshuayi has made only two Premier League starts this season with most of his appearances coming in the cup competitions or off the bench.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would likely be open to letting Batshuayi leave this month, but only if Chelsea can bring in a replacement, to avoid leaving himself short of striking options in the second half of the campaign.
Both clubs are in talks over a loan deal for Batshuayi and Chelsea are ready to give it the green light dependent on them bringing in their own forward reinforcements.
Batshuayi has still managed to score seven goals in 19 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea, but he is unlikely to nail down a regular place in the side under Conte.
A move away in search of regular first-team football in the second half of the season would help the 24-year-old boost his chances of making Belgium's squad for this summer's World Cup.
Peter O'Rourke is ESPN FC's transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.