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.

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

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An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.

Whoops! Unai Emery puts up Arsenal message on web site

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Arsenal’s next manager is very close to being officially Unai Emery.

That is unless, the Gunners’ brass has its mind changed by his sloppy web savvy.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Emery — or his people, or hackers — mistakenly put up a graphic featuring the Spanish coach, the Arsenal logo, and the phrase “Proud to be a part of the Arsenal family” before taking it down in short order.

Emery is expected to take over for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium this summer. Something tells us we’ll have an announcement on Wednesday or even later tonight…

State TV: Ghana president orders arrest of FIFA executive

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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday ordered police to arrest football federation head Kwesi Nyantakyi, a member of the powerful FIFA Council, over allegations of fraud.

Akufo-Addo’s order was announced by the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Abu Jinapor, deputy chief of staff at the president’s office, said the order for Nyantakyi to be arrested and investigated related to an undercover documentary that purports to show the football official asking businessmen for money in return for access to the president and other senior government officials.

“It was a clear case of defrauding by false pretense,” Jinapor said, adding that Akufo-Addo’s order came after he watched excerpts from the documentary, which has not yet been broadcast.

Nyantakyi is president of the Ghana Football Association, a vice president of the Confederation of African Football, and has been a member of the ruling FIFA Council since 2016. He was the FIFA official chosen to oversee the football competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ghanaian media reported that Nyantakyi was not in Ghana at the time of the president’s order but was returning home.

Nyantakyi has been accused of improper behavior before when a British media investigation just before the 2014 World Cup claimed he had been willing to allow the Ghana national team to play in games that could be fixed by others. He denied the allegation.

Premier League managerial power rankings

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There’s a new sheriff at West Ham United, and it’s no small-time boss.

Former Premier League champion manager Manuel Pellegrini is taking over the London side, which had us wondering how high he’d move up the acclaim ladder upon hiring (as of post time).

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

With the 20th spot still open — will it be Fulham or Aston Villa — the Arsenal and Everton jobs vacant for now, and both Neil Warnock and Nuno Espirito Santo yet to manage their clubs in the top flight, we rank the power status of the 15 other active Premier League bosses.

15. Javi Gracia, Watford — Manager don’t usually last long at Vicarage Road, and Gracia doesn’t have a record for sticking around clubs for too long himself.

14. Mark Hughes, Southampton — Saints stayed in the Premier League, and Hughes deserves credit for pushing the buttons on a talented squad.

13. Claude Puel, Leicester City — A disappointing finish to his season keeps Leicester outside the Europa League, and so he has a bit more to prove after an impressive reclamation job at the King Power Stadium.

12. David Wagner, Huddersfield Town — Keeping Town in the Premier League was impressive, but we’re not sure how much we learned about the long-term prognosis of Jurgen Klopp‘s best pal.

11. Chris Hughton, Brighton and Hove Albion — He’d led several clubs to Premier League promotion, and coaxed fine seasons out of what appeared to be a subpar defense at season’s open.

10. Eddie Howe, Bournemouth — One of the brightest young managerial minds, can he take the next step on the South Coast?

9. Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace — What he did upon inheriting and then overseeing one of the worst starts in Premier League history was nothing short of brilliant. Clearly he hasn’t stopped learning unlike many other PL “retreads.”

8. Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham — What will a few years outside the Premier League, if anything, have done to the one-time Man City leader. Don’t forget: The season City won the PL season, he coaxed 20-plus goal campaigns in all competitions from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo, and Yaya Toure.

7. Antonio Conte, Chelsea — Tactically and experience-wise, he’s so much higher on the list. Regardless of the mess at Chelsea, better was needed this season.

6. Sean Dyche, Burnley — Guiding tiny Burnley to the Europa League is as impressive a feat as any outside of what Guardiola did this year and Claudio Ranieri did at Leicester City.

— BONUS — 6b. Unai Emery, if hired at Arsenal —

5. Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United — Considering his resume, it shouldn’t be as surprising that he kept United up despite his owner refusing to green-light a real answer at center forward. Worked career years out of Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.

4. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool — The Champions League final says something, especially in a year he sold Philippe Coutinho, but his team still lacks the consistency of the three men in front of him.

3. Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur — Spurs have smartly spent and kept their stars around, but their financial outlay arguably should not have them consistently finishing ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

2. Jose Mourinho, Manchester United — Still a defensive marvel, still a genius, still somewhat hilarious… but we all know who No. 1 is…

  1. Pep Guardiola, Manchester City