Fulham's Berbatov celebrates his goal against Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League match in London

Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Berbatov to Arsenal, Alonso to Chelsea

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Arsenal are said to be looking at Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov to add extra attacking options to their forward line in January. The 32-year-old Bulgarian striker has done it a big clubs in the past as he starred for Bayer Leverkusen and Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. However Berba currently finds himself in the thick of a relegation scrap with the Cottagers and with his contract set to expire in six months anyway, it’s believed Fulham would let him leave for around $3 million in January. A proven goalscorer on the cheap… would this be a good idea for the Gunners?

Xabi Alonso is set for a return to the Premier League with his former Real Madrid boss keen to bring him to Chelsea. Looking for a key holding player, Jose Mourinho wants to raid former club Real to grab Spanish international Alonso who has stalled on a new contract at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Spanish midfielder, 32, would be a great fit to balance the huge number of attacking midfielder the ‘Special One’ currently has on the books at Stamford Bridge and is a free agent in the summer. However he could join Chelsea sooner than that if Real allow him to leave for a nominal fee in January. Chelsea re said to have offered the former Liverpool star a two-year deal with an option of a third year.

According to reports Stoke want to bolster their defense by bringing in former Chelsea utility man Michael Mancienne from Bundesliga side Hamburg. The 25-year-old has played for Hamburg the last two and a half season but has been getting mixed reviews and could be available on loan in January. The former England Under-21 international can operate as a central defender or a holding midfielder and would proved Mark Hughes’s Potters with cover in those areas.

Manchester United winger Nani has been approached by Italian giants Juventus, as the Portuguese star continues to fall down the pecking order at Old Trafford. Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj are well ahead of Nani but the winger only signed a new five-year deal over the summer. The 27-year-old has failed to play for the Red Devils since December 7 and David Moyes may look to offload the talented yet temperamental attacker to fuel a January spending spree in the transfer market. The emergence of teenage sensation Januzaj has made Nani almost surplus to requirements at Untied. Watch this space.

Finally, staying with United and their young striker Nick Powell could be set for yet another loan move as the former Crewe Alexandra star continues to impress at Championship club Wigan. The 19-year-old has scored eight times in 23 appearances for the Latics this term and Moyes apparently wants to see how Powell performs in the Premier League. Both Swansea City and former United captain Steve Bruce at Hull, want to take Powell on loan for the rest of the season to see how he fares. This young man is in demand.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET