Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Marica to Arsenal, Krul to Juventus

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What’s that, you can’t believe transfers rumors regarding the January Transfer Window are already hotting up?

I know, neither can we. But the fact is folks, plenty of whispers of transfer activity across Europe is already happening, so here’s the latest word on the street.

How likely are the transfers below?

Arsene Wenger is already looking to strengthen his front line in the January transfer window, but he’s looking towards a player you probably haven’t heard of before. Romanian international striker Ciprian Marica is on the Gunners wish list as the Getafe forward is exactly what Wenger wants in a back up forward for Olivier Giroud. Marica, 28, has played for Stuttgart, Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk in the past and would be a much cheaper alternative than the likes of Christian Benteke or Karim Benzema. Should Arsenal splash out on one of the big boys? Or go for Marica?

Tottenham are looking to add 25-year-old Sevilla winger Diego Perotti to their ranks and could snap up the Argentine for $12 million. Perotti has expressed his desire to move to England in January and is keen on helping Spurs reignite their offense as Andre-Villas Boas’ men struggle to find any goalscoring threat. Perotti has interested Arsenal and AC Milan but several small injuries this campaign has hampered his progress. If the exciting winger can get back to full fitness, a switch to the PL could be in the cards this winter. Do Tottenham really need another tricky winger? I’d say a striker is of more pressing concern.

Tim Krul has excelled in goal for Newcastle United this season… but the Dutchman could be on his way out of St. James’ Park. After a string of impressive displays the 25-year-old is being lined up by Italian champions Juventus as a potential long-term replacement for legend Gianluigi Buffon but the Magpies want $30 million for their star shot-stopper. If that mega move does go through, Alan Pardew wants to bring in Reading’s Alex McCarthy as Newcastle look to life after Krul.

Everton’s out of favor striker Nikica Jelavic could be on his way out of Goodison Park in January as West Ham look to snap up the Croatian forward amid their growing injury concerns up top. Jelavic, 29, has been stuck in a rut for over a year with the Toffees and has looked devoid of confidence ever since the start of the 2012-13 PL season. There’s no doubt he has all the talent to excel in England’s top-flight after he scored 11 goals in 16 games when joining Everton in January 2012 from Glasgow Rangers. But since then Jelavic’s goals have dried up and he scored just eight goals in 43 games last season. An initial loan move has bee mooted by the Hammers with a permanent deal worth $7.5 million in the offing if Jelavic delivers.

Dundee United wonderkid Ryan Gauld is described by many as the “Scottish Messi” and the 17-year-old certainly put on a dazzling display this weekend in the Scottish Premiership. Gauld made all four go United’s goals in a 4-1 win over Partick Thistle and the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool are sniffing around to acquire the highly-rated attacker. Dundee United want $9 million for his services and the tricky attacker has been a revelation since Jackie McNamara took charge at Tannadice. Expect to hear plenty of top European clubs linked with this kid over the coming weeks and months.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia