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

Toronto loses CONCACAF Champions League in PKs

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Chivas Guadalajara scored on all of its penalty kicks to clinch a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League Final, breaking the hearts of Toronto FC in Mexico on Wednesday and earning a berth in the 2018 Club World Cup.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore scored in regulation as Toronto FC picked up a 2-1 win to reverse their first leg loss and push it to kicks.

Orbelin Pineda scored Chivas’ goal.

Hometown kid Jonathan Osorio hit the cross bar on Toronto’s second PK and Michael Bradley sent the fifth offering into outer space.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Toronto flew out of the gates, and Rodolfo Cota came flying off his line to deny Altidore a 10th minute chance.

Alex Bono collected a header off a Chivas corner kick earned by a counterattack.

Pineda then made Toronto’s task even harder with a 19th minute goal, cooking Auro’s mark to reach a through ball and dancing around Bono for 1-0.

But Altidore was somehow unmarked for Nic Hasler’s pass despite five Chivas defenders and Cota inside the six-yard box, and TFC leveled the second leg at 1.

And TFC got the next goal through Giovinco, slipped through by Marky Delgado and taking advantage of a yard of space and a second to shoot with his fourth goal of the CCL knockout rounds.

The Reds kept coming in the second half, with Delgado winning a big 50-50 ball deep in Chivas territory and Victor Vasquez ripping a shot that Cota dove to smother.

Chivas found its footing in 58th minute, sending a shot over the bar before Jesus Godinez hit the post in the 61st (though his dive seemingly had the near post covered). Bono the next knocked a free kick over the bar from a similar position as the ball that beat him in the first leg.

Javier Lopez curled a vicious attempt just over the goal in the 72nd. He’d have the next best chances moments after Altidore subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury, but dribbled onto Bono’s lap and fired off the keeper.

Giovinco worked a 1-2 with Osorio and cruised a shot just wide of the far post in the 87th minute. Delgado then mailed a sitter over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time.

Premier League Power Rankings: In tiers

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Liverpool has knocked Manchester City from the Champions League, but sits 19 points behind the leaders and City has a match-in-hand.

Manchester United beat City just weeks ago, but was bounced from the UCL even earlier. The Red Devils also took four of six points from Liverpool.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Spurs are fourth in the table but also took four of six from Liverpool and could be level on points with the Reds by winning its match-in-hand.

So the question remains, who’s the best team in the Premier League right now? That’s why we’re revisiting our Premier League Power Rankings for the first time in a while, since City was the unquestioned No. 1 for months.

Will it change anything? Spoiler alert: Probably not.

Spots 20-14: Not safe yet

20. West Bromwich Albion: The Baggies are going down, but Darren Moore has at least instilled some life into a moribund bunch which was saddled with the dour and unsuccessful tactics of Tony Pulis before moving onto the peppy and hard-to-understand tactics of Alan Pardew.

19. Stoke City — The Paul Lambert jump has faded, and the Potters’ inferior goal differential and one more match played than both Southampton and Swansea City feel like a death knell.

18. Southampton — Yes, the Bottom Three is the same as the table, but Saints are a New South Coast Derby win away from sitting three points back of pulling Palace and perhaps Huddersfield Town and West Ham United back into the picture.

17. Huddersfield Town — If David Wagner cannot lead the Terriers past Everton this weekend, his side finishes at Man City, at Chelsea, and home to Arsenal. That’s a recipe for watching a six-point advantage on the drop zone melt away.

16. Swansea City — Still four points clear of the drop zone, Swans have the cup half-full of facing Saints and Stoke City. The two sides aren’t very good, but also the only teams to worry about when it comes to their Premier League lives.

15. Crystal Palace — Given their turnaround from the beginning of the season, it feels dirty to have them so low. But of the three clubs sitting six points clear of 18th, the Eagles are the one to have three matches left and not four.

14. West Ham United — A brutal schedule featuring two of David Moyes‘ old sides — Everton and Manchester United — means the Irons cannot breathe safely yet (especially with Swans, Saints, and Stoke set to take points off each other).


Spots 13-11: Foot off the gas (and is there any gas in the tank?)

13. Watford — Javi Gracia may have Watford safe, and that was his charge, but the Hornets look like the same team they did under previous bosses. The Hornets have two points from their last six, and would be much further down the table if they weren’t essentially safe.

12. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe is probably wondering how that Arsenal chair would feel right about now, as the Cherries have probably reached a glass ceiling. Now a derby against Saints can define the run-in to the season.

11. Brighton and Hove Albion — Perhaps satiated by a five-match unbeaten run that featured a win over Arsenal and beat downs of Swansea and West Ham, Chris Hughton‘s Gulls have two points in five matches including a derby loss to Palace.

10. Everton — Sam Allardyce‘s men nicked a win off of Newcastle last weekend, and it was about as satisfying as moribund draws against Liverpool’s B Team and Swansea City. There’s a lot of unrest at Goodison Park, and Sam Allardyce has to go. Because of the relative positive vibes at lower table sides Leicester and Newcastle, Everton sinks beneath them.

9. Leicester City — A fun team which has had infuriating lapses at the back. Jamie Vardy‘s as reliable as ever, and there’s a real question what they’ll do without Riyad Mahrez (allegedly) in the future. Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray, and Fousseni Diabate look a big part of said future, but it’s a bit alarming that the Foxes haven’t been able to take advantage of the relatively open door to seventh since Claude Puel righted Craig Shakespeare‘s sinking ship.

8. Newcastle United — The Magpies saw their win streak snapped by Everton, but Rafa Benitez is playing with house money after coaxed a midtable season out of a Championship squad. A healthy Islam Slimani has moved Dwight Gayle to his rightful role as a spark plug off the bench, but don’t sleep on the wonders Benitez has worked in turning Mo Diame, DeAndre Yedlin, and Paul Dummett into serviceable Premier League players. The future is bright if Mike Ashley sells the team or at least opens his purse strings to make one of the longest road trips in the PL even harder for visitors to St. James’ Park.


Spot 7: One of the best stories in Premier League history

7. Burnley — A loss to Chelsea and draw with Stoke has sunk Sean Dyche‘s excitement, we’re sure, but Southampton’s departure from the FA Cup means seventh place means Europa League. It’s Burnley in Europe: Yes, for real!


Spots 6-4: The bargaining stage of grief

6. Chelsea — The Blues have won two-straight in the league and reached an FA Cup Final against old pal Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, but there’s as much uncertainty at Stamford Bridge as there is at the Emirates. The difference? We know Roman Abramovich will spend more to try to fix it.

5. Arsenal — The danger of slipping behind Burnley and into seventh on the table has passed, but the Arsene Wenger goodbye tour is focused firmly on the Gunners’ fate versus Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League and the quite decent form of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as a resurgent and healthy Aaron Ramsey. Defenders need improving in a big way and there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding Wenger’s replacement. Don’t know what you’ve got til its gone?

4. Spurs — No trophy again this season, and there’s a very good chance Tottenham will miss out on third place by virtue of goal difference when all is said and done; When all’s said and done, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will have drawn 1-1 or 0-0 against West Brom, Swansea, Watford, West Ham, Saints, and Brighton. That’ll render a decent record against top foes less impressive.


Spots 3-1: Power trio

3. Manchester United — The Red Devils are better than almost everyone thinks despite precious few standout seasons from its players (David De Gea, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard are among the pardoned). When it comes to talking progress, however, second place won’t cut it: Mourinho needs that FA Cup win over Chelsea, a trophy United hasn’t won since (checks his notes) oh, two seasons ago.

2. Liverpool — The Reds looked incredible in dicing up Roma for 80 minutes, but allowed Roma a sliver of hope. Moreover, the last four goals Liverpool has allowed have come in the 79th, 88th, 81st, and 85th minutes. Why won’t we put them ahead of City? Well, let me clarify: it’s not PST, it’s me. I’ll own this: As brilliant as Liverpool was against City, they were out-chanced 31-14 over two legs. Give me that scenario 100 times, and I’m betting on the 31 about 85-90 times. The Reds are almost there, and Naby Keita over Jordan Henderson would be a huge upgrade (especially if this success convinces Emre Can to stick around). Next year, yeah. This year, just no.

  1. Manchester City — The records continue to fall, and it’s funny to consider that should City had lost the first Manchester Derby and been knocked out of the UCL a round earlier — yes, even by Liverpool in the same manner — no one would be arguing for anyone other than City at No. 1.

WATCH: Giovinco levels CONCACAF Champions League Final

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A trademark Sebastian Giovinco goal snapped a 1-1 first half tie and put Toronto FC in the driver’s seat for Major League Soccer’s first title in the CONCACAF Champions League era.

Jozy Altidore scored the first goal after Orbelin Pineda put Chivas Guadalajara ahead early in Mexico, and the tie is level at 3-3 after 135 minutes.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Toronto needs to score once more and stay ahead by one, or win in penalty kicks.

The winner goes to the Club World Cup in December.

Look at this quick work from Giovinco after Marky Delgado slipped him into his office.

Spartak and Zenit fined in latest Russia fan racism cases

AP Photo/Julia Chestnova
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MOSCOW (AP) Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg have both been fined for racist chants by their fans, the latest such incident in World Cup host nation Russia.

Spartak’s fans were accused of aiming monkey chants at FC Tosno player Nuno Rocha, who is black, while some Zenit supporters allegedly chanted a Nazi slogan during a league game.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

The clubs must each pay a 100,000-ruble ($1,600) fine, and Spartak has been hit with a partial stadium closure for its next cup game, state news agency RIA Novosti quotes Russian Football Union disciplinary committee head Artur Grigoryants as saying.

The verdict comes after FIFA charged Russia with racist abuse of France players during last month’s friendly.

Zenit has also faced two racism charges from UEFA this season.