Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Marica to Arsenal, Krul to Juventus

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What’s that, you can’t believe transfers rumors regarding the January Transfer Window are already hotting up?

I know, neither can we. But the fact is folks, plenty of whispers of transfer activity across Europe is already happening, so here’s the latest word on the street.

How likely are the transfers below?

Arsene Wenger is already looking to strengthen his front line in the January transfer window, but he’s looking towards a player you probably haven’t heard of before. Romanian international striker Ciprian Marica is on the Gunners wish list as the Getafe forward is exactly what Wenger wants in a back up forward for Olivier Giroud. Marica, 28, has played for Stuttgart, Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk in the past and would be a much cheaper alternative than the likes of Christian Benteke or Karim Benzema. Should Arsenal splash out on one of the big boys? Or go for Marica?

Tottenham are looking to add 25-year-old Sevilla winger Diego Perotti to their ranks and could snap up the Argentine for $12 million. Perotti has expressed his desire to move to England in January and is keen on helping Spurs reignite their offense as Andre-Villas Boas’ men struggle to find any goalscoring threat. Perotti has interested Arsenal and AC Milan but several small injuries this campaign has hampered his progress. If the exciting winger can get back to full fitness, a switch to the PL could be in the cards this winter. Do Tottenham really need another tricky winger? I’d say a striker is of more pressing concern.

Tim Krul has excelled in goal for Newcastle United this season… but the Dutchman could be on his way out of St. James’ Park. After a string of impressive displays the 25-year-old is being lined up by Italian champions Juventus as a potential long-term replacement for legend Gianluigi Buffon but the Magpies want $30 million for their star shot-stopper. If that mega move does go through, Alan Pardew wants to bring in Reading’s Alex McCarthy as Newcastle look to life after Krul.

Everton’s out of favor striker Nikica Jelavic could be on his way out of Goodison Park in January as West Ham look to snap up the Croatian forward amid their growing injury concerns up top. Jelavic, 29, has been stuck in a rut for over a year with the Toffees and has looked devoid of confidence ever since the start of the 2012-13 PL season. There’s no doubt he has all the talent to excel in England’s top-flight after he scored 11 goals in 16 games when joining Everton in January 2012 from Glasgow Rangers. But since then Jelavic’s goals have dried up and he scored just eight goals in 43 games last season. An initial loan move has bee mooted by the Hammers with a permanent deal worth $7.5 million in the offing if Jelavic delivers.

Dundee United wonderkid Ryan Gauld is described by many as the “Scottish Messi” and the 17-year-old certainly put on a dazzling display this weekend in the Scottish Premiership. Gauld made all four go United’s goals in a 4-1 win over Partick Thistle and the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool are sniffing around to acquire the highly-rated attacker. Dundee United want $9 million for his services and the tricky attacker has been a revelation since Jackie McNamara took charge at Tannadice. Expect to hear plenty of top European clubs linked with this kid over the coming weeks and months.

NFL’s 49ers purchase minority stake in Leeds United

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One of England’s most famous clubs is receiving investment and strategic business connections from one of the NFL’s most famous brands.

Leeds United and the San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday that 49ers Enterprises, an investment arm of the 49ers ownership, has purchased a minority stake in the Championship club. Multiple reports state that the 49ers now own 10-15 percent of the club, but current Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority owner.

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As part of the deal, 49ers President Paraag Marathe gets a seat on the Leeds United board of directors. Per Leeds, the money invested will stay with the club and be used for the first team, as Leeds looks again to make its way back to the Premier League in next season’s campaign.

An American ownership group investing in England is nothing new, but to identify and purchase a stake in a club with history and a decent chance at making it to the Premier League is impressive. In addition, the York Family, who owns the 49ers, has a net worth in the billions, which could help fund Leeds’ push back into the Premier League.

For the 49ers, this is also a savvy business decision. By investing low in a club in the Championship, they hope that they can experience the financial windfall of playing in the Premier League. This season, clubs made a combined $3.2 billion (with a capital B) thanks to revenue sharing, international and domestic TV rights, and other sponsorship deals.

With even the relegated sides taking home nine figures in revenues from the league, who wouldn’t want to invest and take a cut of that?

Now, only time will tell how long it is before the 49ers influence helps – or hinders, based on the 49ers current state of affairs in the U.S. – Leeds reach the pinnacle of English football.

Iniesta joins Japanese club Vissel Kobe

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TOKYO (AP) Former Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta was introduced as the newest member of Japanese club Vissel Kobe on Thursday, a poorly kept secret that’s been rumored for weeks.

Iniesta appeared before a packed news conference at a central Tokyo hotel on Thursday along with Kobe’s billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani.

[READ: Earnie Stewart being considered for U.S. Soccer post]

“I’m pleased to announce,” Mikitani said, “that Andres Iniesta will be signing up play with Vissel Kobe after his historic career at Barcelona.”

Iniesta signed his contract as Mikitani watched, and then spoke through an interpreter.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Japanese media are reporting he will earn $30 million annually on a three-year deal.

“For me this is a very special day,” the Spaniard said. “This is an important challenge for me. My family is excited to come to Japan and we are very pleased. There were many offers. Other clubs showed interest. But I decided to sign with Vissel Kobe because the project presented to me was impressive.”

Mikitani is also the CEO of Barcelona sponsor Rakuten, a Japanese online retailer.

Iniesta held up the team’s red shirt with his famous No. 8 on the back, and his name written across the bottom.

Iniesta previously had said he would probably retire from international soccer after Spain plays at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

The 34-year-old Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. He also was a key part of Spain’s two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

He announced last month he would leave Barcelona after 16 seasons. His last match for the Spanish club was on Sunday against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Vissel Kobe is in sixth place after 15 games in the J-League. It signed Lukas Podolski last year, but the German striker is out until the end of June with an injured calf.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfielder unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.