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.

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.