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


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.

Real Madrid on brink of La Liga title; record ninth-straight win

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid is on the verge of reclaiming the Spanish league title, after its ninth straight win following the pandemic break.

Madrid defeated Granada 2-1 on Monday to move within two points of winning the La Liga title.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema scored first-half goals to keep Madrid four points ahead of second-placed Barcelona with two rounds to go.

Madrid can clinch its first title since 2017 on Thursday with a win at Villarreal, or if Barcelona loses points when it hosts Osasuna. Two draws in the final two rounds will also be enough to secure Madrid a record 34th league trophy.

“We are a step closer but we can’t relax, we haven’t won anything yet,” Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said. “There are still points to be won. We depend on ourselves and we have a game at home coming up, hopefully we can win it and celebrate the league title.”

Madrid was in control early in Granada and Mendy’s first goal since joining the Spanish club this season came from a beautiful angled shot into the top corner after getting past a defender inside the area in the 10th minute.

Benzema added to the lead six minutes later by scoring his 19th league goal with a right-footed strike into the far corner.

Granada, which was 10th in the standings, got on the board with a goal by Darwin Machis in the 50th and pressured to the end.

The hosts came closest to the equalizer with about five minutes left, when Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to make a difficult save and Ramos cleared a shot at the goal line.

Madrid had not conceded a goal in its last five league matches.

Sevilla secured the final Champions League spot after Villarreal lost to Real Sociedad 2-1.

The loss left Villarreal nine points behind fourth-placed Sevilla with two rounds to go. Sevilla beat Mallorca 2-0 on Sunday for its fourth straight win.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have the other berths in the Champions League.

Sevilla last featured in the Champions League in 2018 when it was eliminated by Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals. It played in the Europa League in 2018-19 and this season, where it will face Roma in the round of 16.

Villarreal needed a win to keep alive its hopes of making it to the Champions League. It has won six of its nine matches following the pandemic break, but the home setback against Sociedad ended its chances of qualifying. It remains in good position to grab a Europa League spot, though, as it kept fifth place.

Sociedad also stayed in contention for the Europa League with its third win since the break, moving to seventh place. Willian Jose scored in the 61st minute and Diego Llorente in the 75th, while the hosts pulled closer through Santi Cazorla in the 85th.

Getafe stayed in sixth place after drawing at relegation-threatened Alaves 0-0.

A late goal disallowed by video review kept Getafe from earning its second win since the league resumed after the pandemic stoppage.

Alaves has also won only once since the break and is winless in seven straight league matches. It is four points above the relegation zone.

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Man United: ‘We will put it right’ and not feeling pressure in top 4 race

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Manchester United insist they will put their draw against Southampton right and the reaction from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players was clear that they aren’t feeling the pressure of the top four race.

Leading 2-1 in the 96th minute at home against Southampton, they conceded a late equalizer from a corner and Solskjaer looked understandably frustrated with two points dropped.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Within a few seconds they went from moving up to third with three games to now sitting in fifth, behind both Leicester City and Chelsea in the top four race.

Speaking to reporters via Zoom after the game, Solskjaer was asked if he believes in the mentality of his players to put things right.

“I have to say the mentality of the boys has been absolutely brilliant. We’ve had a few setbacks and this is another challenge for us. I’m very confident in the mentality of them,” Solskjaer said. “Very disappointed, of course, but you have to take the disappointments as well as the positives when you win games. Disappointment because one of the last kicks of the ball you concede a goal and you lose two points, that’s just part of football. We’ve learned a hard lesson today, hopefully. We will make it right and put it right. The boys, I trust them in that respect.”

[ MORE: Maguire reacts to draw ]

Solskjaer was then asked if the pressure of the situation, watching Chelsea and Leicester both get hammered at the weekend and giving them the chance to jump up to third, played on the mind of his players.

“Absolutely not,” was Solskjaer’s reaction. “I don’t think any of our players have been thinking what have Chelsea done this weekend. Not at all. It is just the way the games go. We all play against the same teams and we all have 38 games to go through. It will even itself out during a long season and you will deserve the position you get in the end.”

That position for Manchester United will still probably be in the top four but they have made it harder for themselves now.

From the start they looked sluggish against Saints, with Paul Pogba giving the ball away on the first goal, then they sat back and looked tired in the second half.

Although Solskjaer said tiredness wasn’t an issue, it looked like midtable Southampton were chasing third place and not Manchester United. Maybe a busy few weeks caught up with United but they now have an FA Cup semifinal and huge games against Crystal Palace, West Ham and Leicester City to finish the season.

Going forward they looked slick and they should have just about enough in the tank to finish in the top four. However, this will be tight and could go to the final game of the season at Leicester.

WATCH: Akinfewa’s inspires after verbal abuse, Wycombe promotion

Adebayo Akinfenwa speech
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Adebayo Akinfenwa is living the life right now.

The 38-year-old striker has helped Wycombe Wanderers into the Football League Championship for the first time in their existence after the club beat Oxford United 2-1 in the League One playoff final on Monday.

If Akinfenwa’s name sounds familiar, it should. The muscular 38-year-old “Beast” shot into the spotlight when he used Wimbledon’s promotion to broadcast that managers should “hit him up on Whatsapp” because he wasn’t done playing the game.

[ MORE: Maguire, Solskjaer rue late Man Utd draw ]

The striker mentioned Whatsapp again on Monday, saying “The only person who can WhatsApp me tonight is Klopp so we can celebrate together. ”

He was recently in the news for vile reasons, reporting that he had been called a “fat water buffalo” in Wycombe’s semifinal win over Fleetwood Town. Akinfenwa says that if the barb wasn’t intended as racial abuse, then his opponents need to be educated on racism.

He didn’t want to speak about that on Monday.

“Today is about, listen, for me, life in football is all about opinions. Four years ago someone gave an opinion about me and that was their opinion. I hope my story shows that the only opinion that matters is the opinion you have about yourself. I was lucky and blessed to find a manager and players who believed in me. I’ll say it for the people in the back: Wycombe is in the Championship. Wait, wait, I’ll say it one more time. Wycombe’s in the Championsh- WAIT! The people in the back didn’t hear me: Wycombe is in the Championship.”

Akinfewa played the final 28 minutes of Monday’s win and his next league appearance will be the first above League One in his long career that started with Watford’s academy in 2000.

He scored 10 goals and added six assists this season, giving him 200 professional goals in more than 650 appearances.

Solskjaer, Maguire react to disappointing Manchester United draw

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The 18th game of Manchester United’s unbeaten streak isn’t going to leave a good taste in the Red Devils’ mouths.

United threw away a late lead and third place on Monday, drawing Southampton 2-2 on a stoppage time goal from Michael Obafemi that came after Red Devils defender Brandon Williams left United with 10 men thanks to a head injury.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“Well it’s the worst time to concede a goal but that happens in football,” said United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“You’ve gotta be strong and take it because we’ve won so many games that way. It’s part of learning for this team to be sat there really disappointed after you thought you’ve got the three points in the bag. We probably didn’t deserve the three points today. … They’re a physical, very very fit side. We never got the rhythm in our passing today especially after we got 2-1.”

Solksjaer was baffled that United didn’t play half the match up a man after Oriol Romeu clattered into Mason Greenwood.

“I know my ankle wouldn’t take that challenge. It’s a nasty one, but we’ve said enough about VAR.”

United failed to claim a top four place for the first time since September and remains behind fourth-place Leicester City on goal differential. Both sides trail Chelsea by one point with three to play.

Red Devils center back Harry Maguire was upset at the failed opportunity to pass his former side.

“Playing at Old Trafford you want to win every game you play for Manchester United. We go for three points. We didn’t get three. We’re disappointed at the moment but we know we’ve gotta dust ourselves down tomorrow. We’ve got some big games coming up and we’ve gotta go get three points.”

United has Crystal Palace, West Ham, and Leicester City on the schedule in its bid for a top four spot.