LeBron James teases Liverpool fans with Nike kit hint on Instagram

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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James may have given Liverpool fans keenly awaiting a first Premier League title in a generation another reason to be excited for the summer ...

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Jump to: Mane looks regal as King of Africa but second-place Salah stays at home | De Bruyne turns Jones inside out, social media does the rest

James has teased Liverpool fans by hinting at the prospect of a possible new kit collaboration between himself and the 2019 Champions League winners.

The three-time NBA champion, who has owned a 2% stake in the Reds since 2011, posted on Instagram an image of a red embroidered Liverpool crest on the left and an enticing blank space (into which he tagged Nike) where another logo could be placed.

View this post on Instagram

😎🤫👑 #YNWA❤️

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

This post came on Tuesday, the same day that Liverpool formally announced their major new kit deal with Nike. Neither the Premier League leaders nor the sportswear giant disclosed the value of the partnership, but sources told ESPN in April of last year that the deal was expected to exceed the value of Manchester United's £750 million agreement with Adidas to become the biggest ever struck by a Premier League club.

Is the post a sign that LeBron is preparing to drop a limited-edition Liverpool kit or clothing line? It certainly sparked speculation, which was given added credence by James' business partner, Maverick Carter, popping up in the comments to say "x Reds coming soon."

It would be a move similar to Paris Saint-Germain's highly successful 2018 Jordan x PSG partnership in which the French club -- no strangers to a lucrative cross-branded merch deal -- produces playing kits and apparel bearing the iconic "Jumpman" logo, the silhouette of NBA great Michael Jordan.

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Liverpool's new Nike deal is set to commence this summer, so Anfield supporters anxious for their 30-year wait for a 19th league title to end may just have another reason that the end of the season can't come soon enough.

Mane looks regal as King of Africa but second-place Salah stays at home

Sadio Mane was named African Player of the Year at the CAF Awards on Tuesday, narrowly pipping Liverpool strike partner Mohamed Salah to the prize.

The Senegal forward pitched in with 30 goals in all competitions last season and already has 15 to his name this season, with the Reds sitting 13 points clear at the summit of the Premier League. Mane had finished in the top three for the CAF award for the last three consecutive years, but had never won. But he finally got to sit on the throne as king of the continent, and he suited it well.

Despite the awards being hosted in his native Egypt, Salah -- who had previously won African Player of the Year the past two years -- decided not to attend. Instead, he remained behind on Merseyside to train with the rest of his colleagues.

Salah has something of an ongoing quarrel with the Egyptian Football Federation, which may have been behind his decision not to attend, although the event was hosted by CAF.

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez finished third in the running and was also unable to attend, given his participation in the Carabao Cup semifinal on the same night.

De Bruyne turns Jones inside out, social media does the rest

Manchester City put one foot in the Carabao Cup final with a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford that at one point threatened to become a mauling (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

Kevin De Bruyne was once again at the epicentre as City strode to victory, and alas it was poor hapless Phil Jones who bore the brunt. During the first half, the Belgium midfielder shaped to shoot with his right foot, only to jink back onto his left as Jones was sent stumbling helplessly out of the game and cause Andreas Pereira to steer the ball into his own net.

Of course, the internet wasn't kind to Jones, who is a regular target for mirth and sniggering whenever he turns out for United. Indeed, there were myriad variations on the theme of Jones being sent out to fetch something.

Many were left chortling at Jones' continued lack of bodily coordination.

Thankfully, some viewers were a little more empathetic, given that De Bruyne is one of the best players on the planet and all.

Some even pleaded with De Bruyne to stop his cruel and unusual punishment.

But there was one small mercy for Jones. For once, there were no close-up photos of his anguished face to make him re-live the horror every time he opens up his social media accounts.

Still, there is always the second leg at the Etihad in three weeks' time (stream the match LIVE 01/29 at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

And the trip to Anfield on Jan. 19.

And the home game against Norwich on Saturday ...