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Transfer news: Berahino on the move, Schmeichel to Man United, Witsel to Tottenham

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Chelsea are the new favorites to land wantaway West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino in January, with bookmakers slashing the odds on him ending up Stamford Bridge.

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Berahino, 22, hasn’t started a game for the Baggies since Oct. 31 and has fallen out with Tony Pulis following West Brom turning down four bids from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. The England U-21 star has only scored four times this season and has only appeared off the bench over the past three months but Chelsea are said to be ready to snatch him in January and bolster their attacking options. However, the Daily Express is reporting that Newcastle United are ready to pounce and are eyeing up a move for Berahino and Tottenham winger Andros Townsend.

West Brom may well cash in on Berahino now rather than risk his value dropping even more after an unsavory few months at the Hawthorns following their insistence to not sell their star striker.

[ MORE: Four Chelsea stars to leave? ]  

Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel has refused to rule out signing for Spurs with the London Evening Standard once again running the story after speaking to the midfielder in Qatar during Zenit’s winter training camp. Tottenham reportedly made a late bid last summer to try and sign the defensive midfielder. Witsel, 27, is excelling under former Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas in Russia but after four years in St Petersburg perhaps the Belgian international is ready to take his talents to the Premier League.

His Marouane Fellaini esque hairdo will raise eyebrows and his defensive work in midfield, coupled with a smooth passing style and strength in the air, will suit the PL well. Spurs currently have English youngster Eric Dier playing out of position in the holding midfield role and he’s doing a sterling job. Do they need $25 million Witsel? The report claims Witsel may move to White Hart Lane in the summer and is currently focused on Zenit.

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Wrapping up the transfer news, The Sun claims that Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is being lined up by Manchester United. Schmeichel, 29, would follow in his fathers footsteps if he did sign for the Red Devils. His dad, Peter, was the goalkeeper for many of their most successful years under Sir Alex Ferguson, winning multiple Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League during his time at Old Trafford. The report centers around the fact that if David De Gea leaves United for Real Madrid either this January or in the summer — it all hinges on if Real manage to overturn their transfer ban for the next two windows — then Schmeichel will be signed as his replacement.

With just two campaigns in the PL under his belt it could be risky but there’s no denying Schmeichel Junior has many similar attributes to Schmeichel Senior and he’s already a full international, like his dad, for Denmark. Quick, accurate kicks and bring brave to dive at the feet of opponents are some of Schmeichel’s biggest strengths.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: “Good news” on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

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Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

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In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho doesn’t have attacking options, but he does have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

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Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.