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Top 10 loan signings for January

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The winter transfer window is opened, and that means a fresh chance for players to make an impact across the Premier League and Europe.

The Silly Season is already well underway, with confirmed moves such as Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool and tons of un-confirmed and sometimes un-sourced rumors of Harry Kane and Dele Alli to Real Madrid, just as an example.

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However, the January transfer window presents both clubs and players with a unique opportunity. For some players, it’s a chance for them to find playing time on a new team. For clubs, it’s a chance to upgrade their squad for a second-half title push or battle against relegation.

Here’s a look at 10 potential loan signings that Premier League clubs can make this month:

10. Mathieu Debuchy, Arsenal

The marauding French right back got off to a strong start in London in 2014 after two years at Newcastle acclimating to the Premier League, but a calf strain was the beginning of his problems.

Since then, Debuchy has missed most of the last three seasons with a variety of injuries, keeping him off the field as he lost his place for both club and country. Debuchy has said he plans on leaving Arsenal in January and now fit, he’s an international-caliber signing that will improve just about any team he moves to, barring another injury.

9. Renato Sanches, Swansea City

One in a half years ago, Sanches was named the young player of the Euro 2016 tournament as Portugal won the title. The then 18-year-old had impressed enough during the season prior to the tournament at Benfica to earn a big-money move to Bayern Munich, but the last 18 months have not gone as planned.

Sanches failed to find playing time under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich and under his former assistant coach Paul Clement at Swansea City, it’s been a similar story. It would be wild for the former young player of the tournament to fail to make the 2018 World Cup squad for Portugal, but if Sanches doesn’t rescue his season, that could very well happen. On paper, Sanches should bring dynamism and energy to a central midfield, should he move to another Premier League club on loan.

8. Sergio Romero, Manchester United

The 30-year-old has been Argentina’s No. 1 goalkeeper for the last seven years. But at the club level, he’s only found regular playing time in three of those last seven, spending the last three years playing as the backup.

Now, with the World Cup coming up, Romero is looking to leave Man United for some regular playing time, giving a club a chance to bring on a talented goalkeeper in his prime.

7. Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal

With Egypt heading to the World Cup for the first time since 1990, the Egyptian National Team is going to want to make a good impression on the world’s stage.

Elneny though, a mainstay in the national team, has found himself second choice in central midfield for Arsenal this season, and could find a new club to move to where he’ll have a better shot at minutes other than in cup games or UEFA Europa League matches.

6. Theo Walcott, Arsenal

Let’s keep it with Arsenal, shall we. Another international who has found playing time hard to come by this season is Theo Walcott. First called up to the England National Team as a 16-year-old, Walcott is in danger of missing the upcoming World Cup, which amazingly would just be his second after not making the 2010 or 2014 squads.

There are reports that Walcott is looking around for a new club, and when fit, he brings a dash of speed and dribbling ability down the wings or in the center of the field, though he’s always lacked consistency throughout his career.

5. Jasper Cillessen, Barcelona

The Barcelona and former Ajax goalkeeper has had to be the backup to Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the last two seasons, and though he doesn’t have a World Cup to prepare for next summer, Cillessen has said in the past that he wants to be a No. 1 goalkeeper at a club.

While he was willing before to fight for his place at Barcelona, perhaps now is the time for him to find a new club to call home.

4. Luke Shaw, Manchester United

When he signed for Manchester United from Southampton, Luke Shaw looked like the heir apparent to Gareth Bale, a marauding left back and winger with speed to burn and technical skills that could make him a regular down Manchester United’s left for a decade.

But serious injuries have scuttled that, and with Shaw not in manager Jose Mourinho’s plans, the England youngster is looking around for a new setting where he can find his old form.

3. David Luiz, Chelsea

The Brazilian’s second spell at Chelsea hasn’t gone as well as the first one. After playing most of last season, Luiz has lost his place while injured to Andreas Christensen, and looks to be on the outside, looking in.

While few clubs could afford his wages, Luiz as a defensive midfielder has always been impressive, though when he’s a centerback he’s struggled as the last line of defense.

2. Arda Turan, Barcelona

Back in 2015, Turan completed a big-money move from Atletico Madrid, where he became a club legend, to Barcelona, even though he knew he’d have to sit out the first six months of the season before Barcelona’s transfer ban was lifted. Unfortunately for Turan, his patience never really paid off.

Looking to break into the central midfield, Turan played just 18 La Liga matches in each of the last two seasons, with many appearances off the bench, while this season he’s been relegated to the sidelines for the entire campaign. He’s reportedly been offered to Everton, and whoever brings him in will be getting a dynamic midfielder who is disciplined defensively as well as skilled offensively.

1. Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea

Batshuayi scored the title-winning goal for Chelsea last season, but he’s never been able to win over Antonio Conte, first playing backup to Diego Costa and now this year to Alvaro Morata.

The Belgian is fighting with Romelu Lukaku for a starting place at the World Cup, and if he wants to start, he’ll need to find another club where he can get regular minutes. It will be interesting if another Big 6 club in the Premier League takes a shot on him, provided Chelsea will allow him to leave to a league rival.

Honorable Mention: Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen

The Icelandic-American striker has struggled to overcome injuries and find the form that earned him a place on the U.S. Men’s National Team squad at the 2014 World Cup. His new coach at Werder Bremen appears ready to count on him, but perhaps a change of scenery could yield better results.

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

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Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the two finalists from last season, are first up and both will be happy enough with their draws in the last 16.

That said, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool know that Diego Simeone’s Atleti are a very dangerous team to play as they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. As for Spurs and Jose Mourinho, the news that Heung-min Son has broken his arm and could be out for the rest of the season is a huge blow but they host an inconsistent RB Leipzig.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta host Valencia in the other last 16 ties this week and both should be cracking encounters between two very evenly-matched teams.

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Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 PSG

Wednesday
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 RB Leipzig
Atalanta 2-1 Valencia

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

FC Cincinnati coach Jans resigns amid investigation over remarks

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CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned amid an investigation by Major League Soccer of his use of a racial slur in the locker room.

Jans resigned late Monday, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said: “The club had suspended Jans pending the investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” Berding said.

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The club designated Yoann Damet as interim head coach while the team conducts a search. Cincinnati is training in Florida for its second season in MLS.

Cincinnati has been through two head coaches during its brief stay in the league. It fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left the expansion club with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Damet also was the interim head coach while the team conducted a search that resulted in Jans’ hiring last August.

Cincinnati finished with the worst record in MLS in its inaugural season, with six wins, six draws and 22 losses. It scored a league-low 31 goals in 34 matches.

Cincinnati gained entry into MLS after a successful debut under Koch, who led the team to the semifinals of the United Soccer League’s playoffs in both 2017 and 2018.

German fans turn on fellow supporter for racist abuse

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BERLIN — The fans of German soccer club Preußen Münster showed how racist abuse can be handled, shouting “Nazis out! Nazis out!” after one of their own fans targeted a visiting player with monkey chants.

The perpetrator was a 29-year-old man who was forced out of the stadium. And the player, Würzburger Kickers defender Leroy Kwadwo, thanked the opposing fans their “exemplary” reaction.

“I was racially abused by one single spectator. It just makes me sad,” Kwadwo wrote on Saturday, a day after the match. “I indeed have a different skin color, but I was born here in this wonderful land that has given my family and I so much and made so much possible. I am one of you. I live here and can live my calling as a professional with the Würzburger Kickers.

“Something like yesterday just makes me sad and angry because everyone has to know, racism does not belong in OUR world. We all have the opportunity to oppose it and stop it if it happens.”

The incident occurred during a third-division match in Münster.

On Monday, Münster said it would seek to ban the suspect from all German stadiums for three years, the toughest possible sanction permitted under current regulations.

“The least we an do is ensure that this person is no longer allowed in our stadium,” Münster president Christoph Strässer said. “We will not tolerate racism or any form of discrimination. The issue of integration is naturally important to us as a sports club, and Article 1 of the constitution applies primarily, namely: Human dignity is sacrosanct. That goes for everyone in this country.”

The perpetrator also faces legal consequences. Local police said the man would be charged with incitement, which can lead to financial penalties and a jail term of three months to five years if convicted.

Referee Katrin Rafalski stopped the 0-0 draw in the 88th minute after being informed of the racist abuse by Kwadwo. It was followed by a stadium announcement against the abuse and the “Nazis out!” chants from the fans.

The German soccer federation praised the fans’ reaction on Twitter on Saturday.

“So sad and shameful as the racist incident against Leroy Kwadwo was, so exemplary was the immediate reaction to it,” the federation said. “The third division stands together and says, no to racism and discrimination!”

The incident occurred only days after Bundesliga club Schalke was fined 50,000 euros ($54,600) after some of its fans subjected Hertha Berlin player Jordan Torunarigha to racist abuse during a German Cup game on Feb. 4.

Torunarigha, the son of former Nigerian player Ojokojo Torunarigha, was targeted with monkey chants and was eventually sent off in extra time when he picked up a second yellow card after appearing increasingly upset as the game went on. The 22-year-old German defender was consoled by Schalke’s Amine Harit.

Numerous other racist incidents have tarnished European soccer this season.

On Sunday in Portugal, Porto striker Moussa Marega was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored his team’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães. Several Porto and opposition players attempted to dissuade him from walking off the field in the 71st minute, when he demanded to be substituted.