ProSoccerTalk’s Top 50 winter transfer targets: #25 – 1

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With the January transfer window now open and in full swing, we take a look at the top targets that could potentially move in the transfer window.

This list is a rough ranking of top players that we are watching the most, and have made noise in reports recently. The rankings are determined by skill, star power, potential impact for a new team, and chance to move in the window.

So who could be on the move? Let’s find out! Remember, this is far from a “Who will move?” and more of a “Who could move and how interesting would it be?”

TOP 25 WINTER TRANSFER TARGETS (Read Nos. 50-26 here)

25. Joel Campbell (FW)
Current club:
Arsenal            Potential price: $9 million
Scoop: Looks like a loan deal for one of Costa Rica’s breakout stars, as Arsenal reportedly wants to ink the 22-year-old to a new contract. Real Sociedad and David Moyes await the decision.

24. Benedikt Howedes (DF)
Current club:
Schalke            Potential price: $19 million

23. Norberto Neto (GK)
Current club:
Fiorentina          Potential price: $9 million

22. Ron Vlaar (DF)
Current club:
Aston Villa            Potential price: $5 million
Scoop: Out of contract this summer, the Dutch defender has been linked with Manchester United (like seemingly everyone else).

21. Julian Draxler (MF)
Current club:
Schalke            Potential price: $36 million

source: Getty Images20. Wilfried Bony (FW)
Current club:
Swansea City           Potential price: $20 million
Scoop: We say $20 million, but Manchester City is apparently interested in flexing everyone else out of the market with a $45 million move.

19. Ilkay Gundogan (MF)
Current club:
Borussia Dortmund           Potential price: $24 million

18. Mario Balotelli (FW)
Current club:
Liverpool            Potential price: $29 million

17. Alexandre Lacazette (FW)
Current club:
Lyon            Potential price: $20 million

16. Yohan Cabaye (MF)
Current club:
Paris Saint-Germain            Potential price: $27 million
Scoop: The Frenchman has played as much as expected since coming to PSG from Newcastle last January, and some are saying the Parisian giants will look to double-down on Magpies with a Cabaye and money swap for Moussa Sissoko.

15. Ezequiel Lavezzi (MF)
Current club:
Paris Saint-Germain            Potential price: $24 million

14. Arturo Vidal (MF)
Current club:
Juventus           Potential price: $50 million

13. Xherdan Shaqiri (MF)
Current club:
Bayern Munich            Potential price: $18 million
Scoop: Off the market? The World Cup hat trick hero looks set for Inter Milan.

source: AP12. Moussa Sissoko (MF)
Current club:
Newcastle United            Potential price: $15-20 million
Scoop: There is no question the 25-year-old has been the Magpies’ brightest star this season, and the engine in their attack. To think that $15 million is all he’d cost is incredible.

11. Kevin Strootman (MF)
Current club:
AS Roma           Potential price: $27 million

10. Mattia Destro (FW)
Current club:
AS Roma            Potential price: $16.5 million

9. Christian Benteke (FW)
Current club:
Aston Villa            Potential price: $18 million

8. Hugo Lloris (GK)
Current club:
Tottenham Hotspur            Potential price: $20 million
Scoop: Why would Spurs sell their captain, who is on a long-term deal? Well, if speculation is true it’s because he wants to go to a UEFA Champions League power. Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and it’s crazy to think he’d be sold. But people are talking, so he makes the list.

7. Raphael Varane (DF)
Current club:
Real Madrid            Potential price: $30 million

6. Mats Hummels (DF)
Current club:
Borussia Dortmund            Potential price: $42 million

5. Marco Reus (MF)
Current club:
Borussia Dortmund          Potential price: $60 million

4. Sami Khedira (MF)
Current club:
Real Madrid            Potential price: $36 million

source: Getty Images3. Ross Barkley (MF)
Current club:
Everton            Potential price: $45-70 million
Scoop: It seems insane for the Toffees not to sell Barkley if English clubs are placing his value at $70 million. The only way it wouldn’t be a good move that could fund Everton’s hopes and dreams moving forward is if Barkley fulfills every bit of his potential. For example, if he went for his high-end price of $70 million, he’d cost $10 million more than Marco Reus. Do you honestly believe Barkley will become Reus or better? Classic English overvalue (and he’s a fine, fine player).

2. Paul Pogba (MF)
Current club:
Juventus            Potential price: $60 million

1. Lionel Messi (FW)
Current club:
Barcelona            Potential price: $250-300 million
Scoop: One of the world’s most prolific scorers seems Barcelona through and through, but there’s been plenty of hullaballoo at the Camp Nou recently and Chelsea is said to be lurking in the shadows (Not to mention Instagram “drama”). Especially since it would leave transfer-ban bound Barca in the lurch. Still, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and Roman Abramovich is always hungry.

USMNT’s Arriola likely will miss MLS season, six World Cup qualifiers

Paul Arriola
AP Photo/LM Otero
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WASHINGTON (AP) D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola had major knee surgery Monday and likely will miss the entire Major League Soccer season and the United States’ first six qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup

The operation was to reconstruct his right anterior cruciate ligament. The team said there was no additional cartilage damage.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 25-year-old midfielder injured his knee Feb. 15 during D.C. United’s preseason match against Orlando in Tampa, Florida.

Arriola has been a regular starter for the U.S. national team under coach Gregg Berhalter. Arriola has five goals in 33 international appearances.

After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. starts qualifying for the 2022 tournament this year. The Americans have two matches each in September, October and November, then complete qualifying with two games apiece in March and September 2021.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

State of play in CONCACAF Champions League

CONCACAF Champions League
AP Photo/Carlos Gonzalez
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Four of five Major League Soccer clubs alive in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 are in fine shape to reach the quarterfinals after one leg.

The fifth has a tall hill to climb.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

LAFC trails Club Leon by two and did not collect an away goal in Mexico during first leg play last week.

“It’s 2-0, but we’re going to work hard,” said LAFC attacker Latif Blessing. “We’re going to prepare ourselves to win the next game. … We did good, but we want to win. It couldn’t happen that way but we’re going to prepare next game to win this game. We need to win.”

The second leg in L.A. is one of the last two matches of the round, kicking off at 10 p.m. ET Thursday just as Seattle Sounders square off with Olimpia.

The Honduran side managed a controversial comeback in the 2-2 draw with Jordan Morris-fueled Seattle last week, but the Sounders will be happy to have those two away goals and home field.

Montreal Impact has the same situation for Deportivo Saprissa’s visit at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, while Atlanta United scored an away goal in a draw with Motagua and hosts the visitors from Honduras’ capital at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

That leaves us with NYCFC, who got a Heber hat trick amongst five away goals at Costa Rican side San Carlos in a 5-3 win. The second leg begins at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday at Red Bull Arena (yes, you read that correctly).

Elsewhere, Liga MX sides don’t have it much better. Cruz Azul leads Portmore 2-1 heading back to Mexico, while Club America scored an away goal in a draw with Comunicaciones.

Finally, Tigres UANL trails 2-1 after one leg with Alianza in El Salvador.

CCL second leg schedule
all times ET

Atlanta United v. Motagua (1-1) — 8 p.m. Tuesday
Cruz Azul v. Portmore United (2-1) — 10 p.m. Tuesday
NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday

Eleven to go: Ranking obstacles on Liverpool’s unbeaten path

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Liverpool has won all five of its matches since the last time we evaluated its path to an unbeaten Premier League season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Those matches were ranked 14th, 12th, 11th, 10th, and 4th on our first rankings of obstacles to immortality, so very little of the heavy lifting has been conducted.

Let’s get something out of the way: If Liverpool is unable to overturn their first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, you can probably etch that zero in the league loss column into stone.

That said, many expect the Reds to overcome that 1-0 disadvantage from Madrid, so here’s where we slot the difficulties moving forward.

Unranked — Crystal Palace at home (March 21) and Brighton away (April 18) — Both of these dates are very easy on the eyes, but will be moved if Liverpool is alive in the FA Cup.

9. Newcastle away, time TBD May 17 — We’re now calling this the easiest date left. Klopp’s men aren’t going to lose an unbeaten season at the altar just because Steve Bruce bunkers down. St. James’ Park is a hassle, but

8. Watford away, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday Klopp probably feels like he’s already playing with house money in the FA Cup, so there’s no reason to think he’ll hand any priority at all to the following FA Cup meeting with Chelsea.

7. Bournemouth home, 7:30 a.m. ET March 7 Situated between Chelsea in the FA Cup and the home UCL second leg versus Atleti, it’s not easy…  but the Cherries have given us less reason to believe they’ll threaten the Reds than any other team besides Newcastle.

6. Aston Villa home, 11:30 a.m. ET April 12Dean Smith‘s desperate Villans will have Villa Park rocking before Liverpool’s possible UCL quarterfinals 2nd leg days later.

5. Burnley home, 7:30 a.m. ET April 25 — Taking place just before a possible UCL quarterfinal first leg, Burnley will try to trouble the Reds in a similar manner to West Ham.

4. Chelsea home, time TBD May 9 — Both the Blues and Reds could be coming off UCL semifinal second legs. Don’t forget that Chelsea took the Reds to the wire in the UEFA Super Cup despite it being very early in Frank Lampard‘s tenure.

3. Arsenal away, time TBD May 2 — Both sides may be days away from needing a result to qualify for the UCL or UEL final.

2. Everton away, 4 p.m. ET March 16 — This may as well be the only match left on the Toffees’ docket that matters more than another, as Carlo Ancelotti and his men know the message they could send regarding the building up of Everton.

Not only that, but Everton has nothing else left to circle, no other competitions, nothing.

1. Man City away, 11:30 a.m. ET April 5 — Taking place 3-4 days before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and on the heels of an international break, it’s the lone date on the calendar that Liverpool won’t be heavy favorites to win.

Champions League: Chelsea, Napoli aim to slow Lewandowski, Messi

UEFA Champions League preview
Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images
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Four of the most dangerous attacks in Europe begin their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

For Chelsea that means trying to find a way to limit the damage of away goals when Bayern Munich visits Stamford Bridge.

Of course, that means trying to slow lethal Robert Lewandowski. The 31-year-old Polish striker has scored 38 times in 32 appearances this season.

Here’s Frank Lampard, via Football.London:

Form of his life means something special with Lewandowski because of how well he’s been consistently in Europe for the last, how many years, I don’t know,” Lampard said. “Everything about him, from a distance, from afar, is just top class. Having the opportunity to watch a lot of Bayern in build-up to this game, that shines through. Of course, he’s going to be a huge threat. He’s not the only threat but he is a spearhead.”

Lampard points to the Blues work without the ball and away from it that will determine whether they can limit Lewandowski and Bayern.

“We traveled to Ajax and had a fantastic game off the ball,” he said. “We’ve had games like that this year in the league as well. But the levels have to go up.”

The Blues won’t have Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and N’Golo Kante, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is finally available after a long injury absence. Pedro may play.

[ MORE: JPW’s score predictions ]

Tuesday’s other first leg sees Napoli hosting Barcelona, which means Gennaro Gattuso trying to find a way to cool down Lionel Messi.

The world’s top player scored four goals at the weekend and had six assists in his three previous La Liga outings.

Another player who’s helped Barcelona reclaim the league lead will be critical to controlling the midfield against Napoli, and that’s Frenkie de Jong.

The 22-year-old has had fits and starts at Barca, especially this month. He admits that he’s had an odd time adjusting to Messi, the teammate, though it hasn’t been part of the problem. From FCBarcelona.com:

“When I began training with him it was strange, because when I was 12, still in secondary school, I used to watch a lot of football. He was already the best in the world. He won the Ballon d’Or back then, so I was a fan, or whatever you want to call it.”

Napoli boss Gattuso was a bit more effusive when addressing Messi, via Football.Espana:

“I have read whether to make a cage or not, but we need the collective game to combat someone like him, and it is not just him,” Gattuso said. “He is the best in the world, for how he has lived his entire career. He is always perfect, never a misplaced word, he is an example for everyone. He does things that I only see on the PlayStation. He has an incredible quality and for years he has been the best of all-time.”

Both matches kick off at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.