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Top 10 loan signings for January

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The winter transfer window is opened, and that means a fresh chance for players to make an impact across the Premier League and Europe.

The Silly Season is already well underway, with confirmed moves such as Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool and tons of un-confirmed and sometimes un-sourced rumors of Harry Kane and Dele Alli to Real Madrid, just as an example.

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However, the January transfer window presents both clubs and players with a unique opportunity. For some players, it’s a chance for them to find playing time on a new team. For clubs, it’s a chance to upgrade their squad for a second-half title push or battle against relegation.

Here’s a look at 10 potential loan signings that Premier League clubs can make this month:

10. Mathieu Debuchy, Arsenal

The marauding French right back got off to a strong start in London in 2014 after two years at Newcastle acclimating to the Premier League, but a calf strain was the beginning of his problems.

Since then, Debuchy has missed most of the last three seasons with a variety of injuries, keeping him off the field as he lost his place for both club and country. Debuchy has said he plans on leaving Arsenal in January and now fit, he’s an international-caliber signing that will improve just about any team he moves to, barring another injury.

9. Renato Sanches, Swansea City

One in a half years ago, Sanches was named the young player of the Euro 2016 tournament as Portugal won the title. The then 18-year-old had impressed enough during the season prior to the tournament at Benfica to earn a big-money move to Bayern Munich, but the last 18 months have not gone as planned.

Sanches failed to find playing time under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich and under his former assistant coach Paul Clement at Swansea City, it’s been a similar story. It would be wild for the former young player of the tournament to fail to make the 2018 World Cup squad for Portugal, but if Sanches doesn’t rescue his season, that could very well happen. On paper, Sanches should bring dynamism and energy to a central midfield, should he move to another Premier League club on loan.

8. Sergio Romero, Manchester United

The 30-year-old has been Argentina’s No. 1 goalkeeper for the last seven years. But at the club level, he’s only found regular playing time in three of those last seven, spending the last three years playing as the backup.

Now, with the World Cup coming up, Romero is looking to leave Man United for some regular playing time, giving a club a chance to bring on a talented goalkeeper in his prime.

7. Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal

With Egypt heading to the World Cup for the first time since 1990, the Egyptian National Team is going to want to make a good impression on the world’s stage.

Elneny though, a mainstay in the national team, has found himself second choice in central midfield for Arsenal this season, and could find a new club to move to where he’ll have a better shot at minutes other than in cup games or UEFA Europa League matches.

6. Theo Walcott, Arsenal

Let’s keep it with Arsenal, shall we. Another international who has found playing time hard to come by this season is Theo Walcott. First called up to the England National Team as a 16-year-old, Walcott is in danger of missing the upcoming World Cup, which amazingly would just be his second after not making the 2010 or 2014 squads.

There are reports that Walcott is looking around for a new club, and when fit, he brings a dash of speed and dribbling ability down the wings or in the center of the field, though he’s always lacked consistency throughout his career.

5. Jasper Cillessen, Barcelona

The Barcelona and former Ajax goalkeeper has had to be the backup to Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the last two seasons, and though he doesn’t have a World Cup to prepare for next summer, Cillessen has said in the past that he wants to be a No. 1 goalkeeper at a club.

While he was willing before to fight for his place at Barcelona, perhaps now is the time for him to find a new club to call home.

4. Luke Shaw, Manchester United

When he signed for Manchester United from Southampton, Luke Shaw looked like the heir apparent to Gareth Bale, a marauding left back and winger with speed to burn and technical skills that could make him a regular down Manchester United’s left for a decade.

But serious injuries have scuttled that, and with Shaw not in manager Jose Mourinho’s plans, the England youngster is looking around for a new setting where he can find his old form.

3. David Luiz, Chelsea

The Brazilian’s second spell at Chelsea hasn’t gone as well as the first one. After playing most of last season, Luiz has lost his place while injured to Andreas Christensen, and looks to be on the outside, looking in.

While few clubs could afford his wages, Luiz as a defensive midfielder has always been impressive, though when he’s a centerback he’s struggled as the last line of defense.

2. Arda Turan, Barcelona

Back in 2015, Turan completed a big-money move from Atletico Madrid, where he became a club legend, to Barcelona, even though he knew he’d have to sit out the first six months of the season before Barcelona’s transfer ban was lifted. Unfortunately for Turan, his patience never really paid off.

Looking to break into the central midfield, Turan played just 18 La Liga matches in each of the last two seasons, with many appearances off the bench, while this season he’s been relegated to the sidelines for the entire campaign. He’s reportedly been offered to Everton, and whoever brings him in will be getting a dynamic midfielder who is disciplined defensively as well as skilled offensively.

1. Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea

Batshuayi scored the title-winning goal for Chelsea last season, but he’s never been able to win over Antonio Conte, first playing backup to Diego Costa and now this year to Alvaro Morata.

The Belgian is fighting with Romelu Lukaku for a starting place at the World Cup, and if he wants to start, he’ll need to find another club where he can get regular minutes. It will be interesting if another Big 6 club in the Premier League takes a shot on him, provided Chelsea will allow him to leave to a league rival.

Honorable Mention: Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen

The Icelandic-American striker has struggled to overcome injuries and find the form that earned him a place on the U.S. Men’s National Team squad at the 2014 World Cup. His new coach at Werder Bremen appears ready to count on him, but perhaps a change of scenery could yield better results.

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

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According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

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Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.