Our version of the Transfer Window Top Target list

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The January transfer window is now open, and while this isn’t the summer free-for-all, there will be plenty of fodder for switch-em-up conversation.

Below is our list of players we seem most likely to be discussing over the coming days and weeks. Consider them not necessarily the top talents, but the tops in “transfer intrigue” factor.

This is list of realistic targets for movement, not a wish-list of players who look like high-value targets for moves from a relatively smaller club to a bigger one. Everton’s Marouane Fellaini is a good example. I am sure some bigger clubs would love to see the big Belgian international, in such dominant form so far in the 2012-13 season, go up on the “for sale” shelf. But he seems committed to Goodison Park for now, with a high-profile move perhaps more likely for this summer or next.

That doesn’t mean he won’t move in January, but the odds seem far, far higher for the following fivesome:

Demba Ba, Newcastle – The Senegalese striker has not been the force that he was a year ago, but that hasn’t stopped Chelsea from putting significant chips into the DB stakes. He seems likely to move from St. James Park; it seems not a matter of “if,” but one of “where” and “when” and “how much.”

Theo Walcott, Arsenal – This is a case for brilliant timing. His recent form – perhaps spurred by the tutelage of training partner Thierry Henry? – and overall performance in the 2012-13 campaign is a case study maximizing value at the best moment. His contract is up this summer, so Arsenal will see some financial return only through a move in January.

Wesley Sneijder, Inter Milan – A supremely talented Dutch international who seems supremely unwanted by his club, where he has been cast down to forgotten man status, as we talked about just yesterday.

Fernando Llorente, Atletico Bilbao – A Spanish international striker whose marriage has soured with his La Liga club. Plus, and his contract is up this summer, which means Bilbao would be smart to bust a move now.

David Villa, Barcelona – What an embarrassment of roster riches the Catalan giants have when this guy, a high-scoring Spanish international, cannot get games. Villa lost his place a year ago after breaking his leg and just hasn’t regained his place. Perhaps a loaner rather than an outright buy?

Plus five more on our “monitor list:”

Lewis Holtby (Schalke), Wilfred Zaha (Crystal Palace), Adrian Lopez (Atletico Madrid), Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht) and Younés Belhanda (Montpellier).

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.

Spurs allowed to play all home matches at Wembley next season

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Tottenham was granted the right to play all of its home matches at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season, but the club must now make a decision whether or not to remain at White Hart Lane for another year.

[ MORE: Man City weighing massive offer for Milan’s Donnarumma ]

The club’s application was granted on Thursday by Brent Council’s planning committee, giving Spurs the option to move into Wembley next season for all 27 home Premier League fixtures.

Spurs must decide if it will go ahead with that move though by March 31.

Tottenham continues to play at White Hart Lane while its new stadium, located next door to its current venue, is being constructed. The current plan is that the new venue will be open ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign, but the club is said to be weighing all of its options in the event that it could be ready for the 2018/19 season.

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.