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

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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 – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Grimsby Town vs. Derby County
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm

Celtic qualify for UEFA Champions League group stage

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Celtic survived a scare in Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season on the trot.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side beat FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff last week at Celtic Park but the trip to Kazakhstan proved much trickier with Astana leading 4-1 late in the game which had pulled the score back to 6-4 on aggregate.

However, Scott Sinclair had scored a priceless away goal to make it 1-1 at half time and despite a late flurry of goals for the hosts Olivier Ntcham scored a deflected effort and Leigh Griffiths wrapped things up late on as Celtic lost 4-3 on the night but went through 8-4 on aggregate.

Last season the Scottish champions went out in the UCL group stage after being drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach and will be hoping for a kinder draw this time around.

Premier League clubs on League Cup upset alert

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The second round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18 for sponsorship reasons) kicks off on Tuesday with 13 Premier League clubs in action.

[ MORE: League Cup scores live ]

All 13 have been drawn against lower-league opposition and those klaxons you can hear signify upset alerts.

Below is a look at how each Premier League club will get on as they enter the competition on Tuesday and Wednesday with a ranking on each game out of 10, with 10 being the most likely for an upset to occur.

Remember: the seven PL teams in European competition will enter the League Cup in the third round.


Upset alert ranking for PL clubs

Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 8/10
Brighton vs. Barnet – 4/10
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom – 7/10
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City – 6/10
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth – 7/10
Watford vs. Bristol City – 5/10
MK Dons vs. Swansea City – 5/10

Wednesday
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest – 6/10
Southampton vs. Wolves – 7/10
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United – 7/10
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United – 8/10
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 6/10
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley – 6/10

Barcelona sues Neymar for $10 million signing bonus

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona is suing Neymar for the $10 million bonus it paid the Brazil striker for signing a contract he later broke to join Paris Saint-Germain on a world-record transfer.

Barcelona said on Tuesday that it wants Neymar to pay back the bonus for a contract in Oct. 2016 that tied him to the club through 2021. It also wants an additional 10 percent interest.

Neymar was able to leave Barcelona earlier this month after PSG paid 222 million euros ($262 million) to trigger a release clause included in his contract.

Barcelona said in a statement that it “has taken these actions in defense of its interests after the unilateral breaking of the contract carried out by Neymar just a few months after having signed his renewal.”

The club is also demanding that PSG pay the money, if Neymar is unable to do so.

Barcelona said the suit was filed on Aug. 11.