Toni Kroos, Pierre-Michel Lasogga

Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup: Kroos to United, Spurs and Liverpool battle over Konoplyanka


As the January transfer window readies to close in the next 24 hours, transfer talk has been dominating the headlines.

We here at Pro Soccer Talk have been following the Julian Draxler to Arsenal rumors quite closely, and after word that the Gunners’ chief transfer negotiator had reportedly been sent to Gelsenkirchen to (presumably) work out a deal for the 20-year-old maestro, it now appears that Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has zero inclination on selling his prized product.

Sticking with Arsenal, reports are raging that they’re on the verge of signing Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic, with some tabloids even reporting that the two clubs have already agreed terms on a loan deal. Seeing as Juventus are running away with the Serie A title, it’s not entirely implausible.

Over on the white side of North London, Tottenham have apparently joined the race to bring Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka to the Premier League, just three days after Liverpool noted their interest. It would be a bold swoop for Timmy Sherwood, especially since Brendan Rodgers just had the rug pulled out from him in the Mohamed Salah deal. Provoke the cracked-lipped gaffer at your own peril, Spurs.

Konoplyanka’s link to Tottenham is strengthened by word of Lewis Holtby’s discontent at White Hart Lane. Naturally, the Germany international is desperate to be a part of his country’s 2014 World Cup run and the good-humored winger knows he won’t get there with his tuchus firmly planted on the bench. Borussia Dortmund and Schalke are the likely destinations.

To the west side of London, despite Jose Mourinho’s protestations that he’s done doing business in this transfer market rumors are percolating that he could add to his center-back ranks with 19-year-old St. Etienne defender Kurt Zouma weighing heavily on his mind.

With all this business getting done, David Moyes wants in and word has it he’s close to bringing in Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos (pictured). After showing his displeasure at being subbed off during the 2-1 win over Stuttgart, Kroos’ future in Bavaria was thrown in the air when manager Pep Guardiola said:  “He [Kroos] is an important player, but things can move fast in football…. Here today, gone tomorrow.”

Up at Sunderland, Gus Poyet’s transfer raid continued Thursday when he signed Argentinian striker Ignacio Scocco. Having already signed Scocco’s compatriots Santiago Vergini and Oscar Ustari, as well as Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso, the Black Cats appear locked and loaded going into the final stretch of the season.

Speaking of done deals, word out of Crystal Palace is that the Eagles have made their first major signing of the transfer window, penning the highly-rated Thomas Ince to a loan deal from parent club Blackpool.

LIVE – EFL Cup: Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, Saints-Sunderland

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United evades Fernandinho of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on April 12, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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There are still three more teams yet to join the quintet who clinched quarterfinal berths in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

We’ve got three all-PL ties to decide their fates.

[ LIVE: Follow EFL Cup scores ]

Follow the action above, as we learn who takes the remaining spots alongside Newcastle United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds United, and Hull City.

Holders Man City are off to Old Trafford for a derby match-up in the Round of 16, while it’s an all-London match at the Olympic Stadium between West Ham and Chelsea.

Finally, Sunderland hopes to break out of its season-long slump to join Northeast rivals Newcastle in the quarters. The Black Cats will need to win at Southampton to move on.

EFL Cup fourth round, Wednesday games

West Ham United vs. Chelsea — 2:45 p.m. ET
Southampton vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET
Manchester United vs. Manchester City — 3 p.m. ET

MLS Cup Playoffs Thurs. preview: Seattle, DC riding hot streaks

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 06:  Osvaldo Alonso #6 of the Seattle Sounders FC dribbles against Roger Espinoza #27 of Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on March 6, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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The 4-5 match-ups in each conference are set for Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs, with two of the league’s hottest teams set to hit the pitch.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

Both Seattle and DC are at home for their “play-in” matches, and face road teams with plenty of veteran experience and firepower in what should be a pair of beauts on each side of our country.

DC United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET

The Black-and-Red have hit their stride under coach Ben Olsen, and seem on board the plan.

Montreal, however, has not seen tranquility in Quebec. Ignacio Piatti has been fantastic, but the headlines have revolved around Didier Drogba‘s unhappiness at not starting under Mauro Biello.

It’s difficult to think Biello won’t start the Ivorian in a must-win match on the road, given Drogba’s experience and ability to dominate a game.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10:30 p.m. ET

Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris have helped Seattle make up for the absence of transferred Obafemi Martins and injured Clint Dempsey.

The duo has been simply fantastic in “rave green”, and Sporting KC is going to have a whale of a time slowing Seattle. Consider the ability and season of under-the-radar MVP candidate Osvaldo Alonso in the center of the park, and all bets are off.

Of course, the thing about KC is there’s little question it has the mettle to not just win on the road, but win a tournament. Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis, Benny Feilhaber… who in that locker room is going to shrink under the bright lights of the playoffs?

TFC’s Bradley: “Responsibility, privilege and passion” on line in playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bradley #4 of United States looks on against New Zealand in the second half during an International Friendly at RFK Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Toronto FC’s supporters fell in love with the club almost immediately, but it’s taken to Year 10 for the Reds to get a home playoff match.

The latest batch of TFC stars have embraced the battle for relevance, at times even surpassing expectations the lofty expectations of championship-starved Toronto.

[ MORE: Bradley talks TFC renaissance

This is a city which has seen the Blue Jays and Raptors find the precipice of glory in recent seasons, but not reach the apex. The Leafs haven’t been to a Stanley Cup final since the NHL had a whopping six teams.

So winning would be a mighty big accomplishment, right Michael Bradley?


“Being captain or a big player on a team in this city carries an extra weight,” said captain Michael Bradley. “I’ve loved every second of that; playing in this city, for this city, and being captain. It’ll be nights like Wednesday night where the responsibility, privilege and passion that I have for this role will get magnified that much more.”

He has a way with words, doesn’t he? The USMNT captain begins Canada’s quest for a title at 7:30 p.m. ET against visiting Philadelphia.

Whitecaps lock up Welsh coach Robinson through 2020

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5:  Head coach Carl Robinson (right) of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during their MLS game against the Colorado Rapids April 5, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Colorado won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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Vancouver is hanging onto stalwart coach Carl Robinson despite a massively disappointing season.

The Whitecaps were tipped to compete for the Supporters’ Shield, only to miss the playoffs. There were plenty of excuses for the ‘Caps, including an injury to Kekuta Manneh and the transfer of Octavio Rivero.

And Vancouver is alive as the No. 1 seed in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, also claiming the Cascadia Cup.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high ]

Robinson has signed an extension through 2020, from

“Carl’s body of work over the course of his five years at the club has shown that he is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in North America. While this past season was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved within the club, we have complete faith in Carl’s continued vision in acquiring the necessary players to build a team that will compete with the best in MLS.”

Robinson turned 40 this month, and has been leading the ‘Caps since December 2013. This is a smart move for both Vancouver and its coach.