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ProSoccerTalk’s Top 20 players to watch in the transfer window

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In January the rumor mill runs into overdrive, as you’ve already seen countless deals being shut down or speculated during the opening week of the transfer window reopening.

Hopefully this list will help clear the murky waters for you, as ProSoccerTalk picks out our top 20 players you should watch during the January transfer window, which opened on January 1 and will slam shut at midnight on January 31. Here’s where you can find all the details as to how the window works in the Premier League.

(MORE: Latest Transfer Rumor Roundup)

From clubs in the Premier League and across Europe, these players are either wanted because of sensational form so far this season, a falling out with their current manager or just fancy a change of scenery. This time of year usually doesn’t provide the best value for money, but there’s certainly some gems out there.

Keep this list of elite soccer stars handy throughout the month of January, as many will surely be on the move to some of Europe’s biggest teams.

Let the fun begin!

1. Iker Casillas

source: Getty ImagesHaving lost his place in the Real Madrid starting lineup last season under Jose Mourinho, it was all meant to be so different this season for Casillas when new boss Carlo Ancelloti arrived. But Diego Lopez is still the number one as Casillas has been firmly rooted to the bench. Captain of the Spanish national team and Madrid, Casillas said last year he may leave Real to further his career and it seems as though Manchester City and Arsenal are willing to offer him an escape route. On his day, the best ‘keeper in the world.

Price: $15-20 million

2. Edin Dzeko

In the starting lineup at the moment due to Sergio Aguero’s injury, Dzeko has been in and out of the City team this season. How much more of this can he take? Manuel Pellegrini likes the Bosnian forward, but surely he wants to be playing regularly before the 2014 World Cup this summer. With top clubs across Europe clambering to snap him up if City let him leave, the bustling striker won’t be short of options.

Price: $25 million

3. Juan Mata

source: ReutersSulking at Southampton after being substituted, Spanish international Mata is becoming increasingly frustrated by his role at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. The 25-year-old is a magician capable of unlocking any defense, but Chelsea has the likes of Oscar, Willian and Hazard to do that. Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Inter Milan are all ready to snap him up.

Price: $38-42 million

4. Diego Costa

This man has terrorized defenses in Spain for the last year and this season, he’s already scored 19 goals in 17 La Liga matches for Atletico Madrid. The Brazilian born forward made the big call of switching his national allegiance to Spain, and the 25-year-old will surely be at the 2014 World Cup. Diego has a release clause of $47 million and has long been linked with Chelsea and Arsenal, who could both do with a top striker. Who will make the move?

Price: $47 million

5. Fredy Guarin

Highly rated central midfielder from Inter Milan, the Colombian terrier gets stuck in and could become a key cog for any Premier League side in the engine room. He’s get a great strike on him, plus his style would suit the rambunctious midfield battles in England. Chelsea are sniffing around but don’t be surprised if others make a bid.

Price: $15-20 million

6. Adam Lallana

source: Getty ImagesSouthampton’s captain and leading light, Lallana led the Saints to an impressive start to the PL season. He’s since gone on to win his first England caps and performed admirably against Chile and Germany. Many of England’s top clubs are trying to snap him up, but it will take a lot of cash to steal the Englishman’s silky skills away from St. Mary’s. Manchester United are interested, as are Liverpool but Lallana seems happy at Saints… for now.

Price: $25-30 million

7. Fabian Schar

FC Basel performed superbly in the Champions League and young Swiss defender Schar is set for a massive future on the European stage. Chelsea and Spurs are interested as the 22-year-old is comfortable on the ball and loves to step into midfield. Ball-playing center backs are a valuable commodity these days.

Price: $20-25 million

8. Jackson Martinez

source: APChelsea have been tracking FC Porto’s Martinez for quite some time, as the pacey attacker is full of goals and gives defenders a torrid time. He has a knack of popping up to score crucial goals and his tremendous athleticism seems him as the perfect PL player. Mourinho loves to raid his old club Porto, too.

Price: $35-40 million

9. Jeremy Menez

Following his move from AS Roma in 2011, Menez has struggled to get into the team ahead of PSG’s growing band of stars this season. Menez is available on a free transfer in June, but he could be a seriously good pick up for any team looking for a pacey winger who can get to the byline and deliver delicious crosses. Bargain.

Price: $10-12 million

10. Ander Herrera

The Athletic Bilbao man nearly joined Manchester United last summer but the deal fell through. A midfielder general who loves to spray the ball around, Herrera would be an automatic starter at Old Trafford and his qualities are much needed in David Moyes’ midfield. His price should drop considerably in January, will the Red Devils dive in for a second time?

Price: $30-35 million

11. Javier Pastore

source: Getty ImagesLike Menez, this man has struggled to force his way into PSG’s starting XI after the likes of Cavani, Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic have turned up. Pastore, who PSG bought for $60 million in 2011, is hoping to be in Argentina’s squad for the 2014 World Cup and must be playing regularly. Both Arsenal and Liverpool are lurking, could he be the final piece in the jigsaw?

Price: $25-30 million

12. Yohan Cabaye

The leader of Newcastle’s French revolution seemed to be on his way out of St. James’ Park this summer when he walked out of training and his teammates. But after being disciplined by the club he’s stuck around and Cabaye has produced some stunning displays and added important goals for the Magpies. Arsene Wenger is a long-term suitor, will Cabaye move to the Emirates or possibly Manchester United?

Price: $25-30 million

13. Nemanja Matic

source:  Chelsea let this man leave in Stamford Bridge for Benfica in the move that brought David Luiz in the opposite direction, but the deep-lying Serbian playmaker Matic has turned into a star. Pulling the strings for Benfica, his eye for a pass and ability to break up play see him sought after in the window. Both Chelsea and Manchester United are again vying for his services.

Price: $32-35 milion

14. Koke

Atletico Madrid have a whole host of stars, but 21-year-old Koke is perhaps their prized possession. He has a release clause in his contract according to many reports, which is much disputed, and varies considerably. But what isn’t in doubt is his talents on the pitch as the playmaker is an assist king and pops up just behind the forwards in devastating fashion.

Price: $30-60 million

15. Shinji Kagawa

Just what is going on with the Japanese international at United? With the Red Devils looking for more creative midfielder across Europe, it seems as though Kagawa’s time is up at Old Trafford. He hasn’t done much wrong during his time in English soccer but it seems like a move back to the Bundesliga could be in the cards.

Price: $20-25 million

16. Dimitar Berbatov

source: ReutersThe supremely skillful yet slightly erratic Bulgarian forward could be a bargain for someone in the window, as Fulham are sitting perilously close to the relegation zone in the Premier League. Berbatov, 32, has shown his class with Manchester United and Tottenham in the past, and it seems as though Arsenal may pounce to snap him up for next to nothing to bolster their attack.

Price: $4-5 million

17. Mohammed Salah

The young Egyptian winger is another of Basel’s star performers and he’s highly-touted to go right to the top. Salah, 21, is comfortable on either wing and tore Chelsea apart in the Champions League earlier this campaign, plus former Egyptian and USMNT head coach Bob Bradley is a massive fan. Liverpool are said to be watching him, alongside many of Europe’s elite.

Price: $15-18 million

18. Kevin De Bruyne

It hasn’t quite happened for the Belgian winger at Chelsea this season, after playing several times at the start of the year he’s hardly featured of late. Constant questions about De Bruyne’s absence has irked Mourinho and he’s ready to ship the powerful winger out of Stamford Bridge. Wolfsburg want to buy him, while Atletico Madrid are interested in a loan deal.

Price: $37 million

19. Thomas Ince

The son of former Manchester United, Inter Milan and England midfielder Paul Ince, Thomas has set the Championship alight with some dazzling wing play this season. Ince, 21, is ready to play in the Premier League after spending his entire career in the lower divisions initially on loan from his old club Liverpool. The England U-21 winger has the desire to succeed in the PL.

Price: $8-12 millionsource: AP

20. Eliaquim Mangala

Another star from FC Porto, Mangala was rumored to be heading to England in the summer but he opted to stay at Porto. At just 22 he’s already carved a name for himself as one of the most talented central defenders in Europe, that’s probably why Chelsea Manchester City and Barcelona are chasing him. He has pace, strength and a cool head, everything you need from a central defender.

Price: $36-40 million

Copa America trip helped convince Lodeiro of Sounders move

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 22: Nicolas Lodeiro #10 of the Seattle Sounders gets control of the ball during a match against the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals at CenturyLink Field on November 22, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders won the match 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Nicolas Loderio is getting set to play in the MLS Cup finals, something that only came to pass with a team visit to the United States, and the assistance of Luis Suarez.

According to Seattle Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey, he spoke with Lodeiro often in his attempts to bring the 27-year-old from Boca Juniors to Major League Soccer. The moment that swayed him was a trip to the US. A business trip.

With Uruguay competing in the Copa America Centenario, it allowed the two to speak more frequently, but when the Uruguayan became frustrated with his own handle of the native language, a friend stepped in to help. He asked national teammate Suarez to help translate, and thus the transfer came to pass.

“You don’t have body language, it’s harder than it is straight to the face and so he just got frustrated that he couldn’t understand everything that I’m saying,” Lagerwey told MLSSoccer.com’s radio show. “And so he says, ‘Hold on, speak to my friend,’ and I said, ‘OK,’ and I have no idea what’s happening. And Luis Suarez gets on and says, ‘Hi, this is Luis Suarez, how are you?’ And I’m like, ‘Morning, Mr. Suarez, how are you?’ And he was our translator.”

Lodiero has been a revelation for the Sounders since joining in the summer. A creative force all season, the Uruguayan has scored four goals in five playoff matches, bursting onto the national scene on the biggest stage.

“It was just funny. Nico and I, we talked fairly regularly during the process, in part because it took four months for the thing to play out,”  “And he was in the US for the Copa America with Uruguay, obviously, and in hindsight that ended up being a big deciding factor for him, because he brought his wife and his little son and they got to see America and I think liked it and developed a comfort level with it. And I think that’s what ultimately pushed them to make the leap, but I was talking and Nico’s English is actually pretty, pretty good, but he isn’t always so comfortable on the phone.”

With over 50 caps for the national team, Lodeiro is a well-known presence with the Barcelona striker and his other national teammates. The two have hooked up on the field as well, with Suarez assisting Lodeiro’s fourth national team goal back in October.

Zidane’s Madrid on cusp of setting new unbeaten record

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid looks on during the La Liga  match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane is one match away from coaching Real Madrid to a new unbeaten record.

When Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez midway through last season, the inexperienced former midfield standout got off to an auspicious start with a 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna.

Eleven months and one Champions League title later, Madrid faces Deportivo again at home on Saturday with the chance of surpassing its longest unbeaten run since the club was founded in 1902.

On Wednesday, Madrid equaled a club record of 34 games without a loss set in 1989 under coach Leo Beenhakker when it drew 2-2 with Borussia Dortmund.

“It’s important to continue to make history and continue our good run,” Zidane said after the match. “I don’t think it’s very important for me to leave my mark. What interests me the most is to continue with this great run that we’re on.”

Last season, when Real Madrid president Florentino Perez tapped Zidane to take over a struggling team, the decision smelled of desperation.

A fan favorite from his playing days as part of Madrid’s “galaticos” bunch, Zidane was promoted from coaching the reserve team to take over a side that was lurching from one embarrassing episode to the next.

Madrid’s 2015-16 campaign had started with Perez flubbing his play to sign away Manchester United goalie David De Gea. The team was then disqualified from the Copa de Rey for fielding an illegible player, and it endured a 4-0 defeat from Barcelona at home as it failed to click with Benitez.

Perez needed to make an impact move. But instead of searching for a veteran manager, he charged the unproven Zidane with turning around Madrid’s group of talented underachievers.

At first, the team remained erratic, and even looked set to bow out of the Champions League after a shocking 2-0 loss at German side Wolfsburg.

But that defeat on April 6 proved to be a catalyst. The team hasn’t lost since, recovering to claim its 11th European Cup and almost nip Barcelona for the Spanish league crown, before roaring out to lead la Liga this season.

Zidane, whose top-tier coaching experience had been limited to his stint as an assistant under Carlo Ancelotti, has now reached the half-century mark as head manager. During that 50-match period, he has overseen 37 wins, 11 draws and only two losses. That other loss came at Atletico Madrid in February.

“The players have to be congratulated. They’re the ones out on the pitch, it’s them who run, fight and dig in,” Zidane said. “We also have to thank the fans, who always get behind the team and support us. They’ve got to take some credit for what the team is achieving”.

Gifted with world-class stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, Zidane focused on getting more from Madrid’s supporting cast. He put a new emphasis on defense in his midfield by favoring Mateo Kovacic and Casemiro over flashier playmakers James Rodriguez and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, and he has helped the little-known Lucas Vazquez blossom into an important piece of its attack.

“(Zidane) has gotten us to work hard and for things to go well for us, and that is paying off with this run of 34 unbeaten games,” defender Dani Carvajal said. “Everyone on the team has words of praise for him.”

Whereas the draw with Dortmund was disappointing because it cost Madrid a first-place finish in its Champions League group, its 1-1 stalemate earned last weekend at Barcelona tasted of victory. The “clasico” draw kept Madrid six points clear of Barcelona at the top of the Spanish table.

After it plays Deportivo, Madrid heads to Japan for the Club World Cup.

If Zidane sets the new club mark, his next goal would be the milestone held by Barcelona under counterpart Luis Enrique, whose 39-game unbeaten run was ended by Madrid last April.

Top 5 Premier League storylines for Week 15: Chelsea top, Leicester tested

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
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This weekend is absolutely critical for the Premier League. Last time out, the top of the table kept pace and little changed. This time around, there is danger lurking for much of the top. Arsenal, Liverpool, and Spurs all have difficult tests, but can Tony Pulis be the one to pin Chelsea back?

Spurs and Manchester United 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, NBCSports.com) meet with both teams clawing for scraps from those above them. These two teams very well could be battling it out for a final Champions League place at the end of the season, meaning this matchup could go a long way in building a true gap in the table.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho failing to adapt at Manchester United ]

The bottom of the table is fascinating as well. Bob Bradley has his biggest chance yet to pull the Swans off the bottom against Sunderland amid the noise, while Hull City and Crystal Palace have a key meeting.

1. Moving day for Chelsea

Chelsea vs. West Brom — 7:00 a.m. ET Sunday, NBCSports.com

Chelsea is in the best form of any Premier League team in years. Their clean sheet streak predictably ended two games ago, but it hasn’t stopped the Blues’ fine run. They’ve won eight in a row and look impossible to stop. Can Pulis-ball keep the Blues at bay? They’re three points on top of the table, and another win would likely give them even more space considering tough matches for the other top teams.

2. Any magic left in the tank for Leicester City?

Leicester City vs. Manchester City — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSports.com

The Foxes topped their Champions League group, but things continue to look more and more bleak in league play. Claudio Raneiri admitted they’re in a relegation battle with the Foxes just two points above the drop. But we’ve learned not to count this team out already, and a win against Pep Guardiola‘s stumbling team could be more than just three points.

Speaking of Manchester City, Pep was pipped by fellow first-time Premier League manager Antonio Conte last weekend, and then held to a 1-1 draw with Celtic in midweek Champions League action. However, City has taken care of business so far this season against weaker opponents, and the Foxes certainly seem to be just that at this point.

Claudio Ranieri admitted Leicester City is in a relegation battle (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Claudio Ranieri admitted Leicester City is in a relegation battle (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

3. Will Arsenal stumble against Stoke?

Arsenal vs. Stoke City — 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday, NBCSports.com

For all the heat the Gunners have (unfairly?) taken this season, Alexis Sanchez has them just three points off the top. For Arsenal to still be one game off Chelsea despite the Blues’ fabulous run is somewhat remarkable, and for them to have thus far weathered the storm, it would be truly something to see them capitalize on a slip-up from Conte.

[ MORE: Sanchez among Premier League’s best 5 players ]

However, Stoke has been here before. The Potters have conceded just three goals in their last seven matches, including a pair with clean sheets; if anyone can stop Sanchez’s amazing form, it’s the Mark Hughes and the defensively stout Potters. A win for Stoke could potentially see them jump as high as sixth, could they go on the road and halt the Gunners? It’s possible, but a 315-minute shutout streak vs. Stoke for Arsenal puts things squarely in Arsene Wenger‘s favor before kickoff.

4. Bob Bradley’s golden opportunity

Swansea City vs. Sunderland — 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday, NBCSports.com

Bob Bradley has taken plenty of flak at Swansea City, and rightly so. Since his anointment as the first American manager in England’s top flight, the Swans have picked up just five points and still sit bottom of the table, two points back of anyone else. But to be fair, the competition has been tough. The four losses since his appointment have come against Arsenal, Stoke City, Manchester United, and Tottenham, and he picked up a pair of points against 8th placed Everton and 11th placed Watford. Now is his chance to pick the Swans off the bottom with a win against those directly above him.

[ RELATED: Swansea issues vote of confidence for Bob Bradley ]

Sunderland visits Wales sitting in 18th, and should Swansea win, they would jump above the Black Cats. The task is no given, however, with Sunderland owning three wins in its last four, meaning they’ve picked up nine of their 11 total points in the last month. Bradley fended off much criticism the past week, and if he’s going to silence those calls for his job after just two months, this is a must-win.

5. West Ham finishes gauntlet stretch

Liverpool vs. West Ham United — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, NBCSports.com

The Hammers are in the midst of a brutal run of matches where they have just two points, putting them a single point above the relegation zone. The teams they’ve played? Everton, Stoke City, Spurs, Manchester United, Arsenal. Yikes. And yet, if West Ham aspire to the heights they reached last season, Slaven Bilic will expect better. Can the Hammers get a result against the high-flying Reds? Liverpool sits four points off the top, but goalkeeper Loris Karius was exposed last week in the stunning Bournemouth comeback, and it’s possible that disappointment leaves a lasting impact. Who will prevail?

FA bans Leeds owner Massimo Cellino 18 months

LEEDS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13:  Massimo Cellino President and Director of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Fulham at Elland Road on December 13, 2014 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)
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Leeds United may be making a push to return to the Premier League, but they’ll have to do so without their owner.

Massimo Cellino, who took over Leeds in February of 2014, has been banned for 18 months by the English FA for his involvement in the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham later that summer. He was also fined $315,000 and required to complete a course outlining the duties and restrictions for owners in the English league.

During McCormack’s sale, a significant payment was apparently paid to unlicensed agent Barry Hughes, facilitated by McCormack’s official licensed agent Derek Day, who was also banned for 18 months, although 11 of those are suspended, leaving him sidelined for seven months should no other infractions arise.

This likely will only serve to accelerate the current potential sale of Leeds to Andrea Radrizzani, with both sides having publicly acknowledged discussions are ongoing.

Leeds is currently in fourth in the Championship table, having won five of their last six matches. McCormack, meanwhile, scoring a whopping 42 goals in 100 appearances over two years before making a big-money move to Aston Villa this past summer, where he has slumped at Villa Park, owning just two goals over 13 Championship appearances this season and losing his place in the team. To be fair, he struggled in his early days at Fulham as well, scoring just twice in his first 15 matches before exploding in his second season at Craven Cottage with 21 league goals.