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Top 10 players to watch in January window

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January is here and the transfer window is open again with plenty of big moves rumored as Premier League clubs aim to kick on in the second half of the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players you should keep an eye on during this month as they could be moving to or leaving the PL.

We will keep you updated with all the latest goings on throughout this month with analysis and reaction right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
The 33-year-old isn’t getting much game time at Chelsea and reports suggest he is being offered to plenty of clubs, including Lyon, as Chelsea want to bring in Moussa Dembele. Giroud’s ability to hold the ball up and score goals mean plenty of PL clubs will be looking at a January move, maybe on loan, as the French international is out of contract this summer. He will be desperate for minutes in the second half of the season as he pushes to start for France at EURO 2020 this summer.


Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Currently out injured, Ake has been a rock for Bournemouth since he arrived on loan then permanently from Chelsea. It is said the Blues have a $50 million buyback clause and given their defensive problems this season, that would be a smart buy for Frank Lampard‘s side. The Dutch international has also been interesting Man City and Arsenal and if he doesn’t leave Bournemouth this January, he will be a man in demand this summer.


Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Teams in the bottom half of the table usually take a punt on a player doing really well in the Championship. Bowen, 23, fits the bill as he’s scored 17 goals for Hull City so far this season and bagged 22 last season. A real poacher in and around the box, Bowen has been linked with a move to Leicester, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Newcastle among others. He has come up through the ranks in non-league and seems capable of making the next step up.


Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
A veteran striker with undoubted quality, both Arsenal and Man United have been linked with El Matador. So too have Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami, but Cavani, 32, playing in the Premier League would be very interesting. He is more physical than Gonzalo Higuain but injuries have hit him hard in recent months. Would he would be worth a gamble for a team pushing to get into the top four?


Moussa Dembele (Lyon)
The former Fulham and Celtic forward is a man in demand after another fine season in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Chelsea and Man United are said to be interested in signing him this month even though Lyon have said they don’t want to sell until summer, if they’re going to at all. Dembele, 23, is a clinical finisher who hovers around the box and he also has the ability to make clever runs behind opposition defenders. Would cost way over $70 million.


Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Available on a free this summer, Eriksen could well stay at Spurs and see out his contract but chairman Daniel Levy loves a good deal and if they can get a transfer fee for Eriksen now perhaps he will leave. Eriksen has been indifferent throughout this season as he’s been linked to Man United, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and other giant clubs across Europe. He has all of the ability to excel wherever he ends up and maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved on this month.


Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the man most coveted in this window, Zaha wanted to leave in the summer but Arsenal and Everton didn’t match Palace’s valuation. After a fine few months leading up to January he will probably go for close to $110 million and Chelsea are the frontrunners to sign him. Zaha’s pace and trickery are his main strengths and he is desperate to return to a team challenging for trophies and playing in the Champions League. At 27 years old, now seems like the perfect time for Zaha to make the step up.


Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The French winger has reportedly been offered to Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and other Premier League clubs as Atletico try and move on the man they paid Monaco $66.5 million in the summer of 2018. Lemar, 24, has got regular minutes for Atletico but has only scored three times in 49 La Liga appearances. Surely, Spurs and maybe even Chelsea will see this as a cheaper, and very decent, alternative to buying someone like Sancho or Zaha.


Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Crystal Palace, Southampton and others have been linked with a loan move for Spurs’ young right back who hasn’t been able to jump ahead of Serge Aurier. Walker-Peters needs game time to keep his development going and it is unlikely he will leave permanently. A no-brainer for PL clubs further down the table who want some extra help in defense.


Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Another January, another loan move on the cards for Batshuayi. The Belgian international has joined Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Palace in recent windows and the likes of Palace and Aston Villa have been linked with a loan move for him this time around. Batshuayi is second-choice behind Tammy Abraham and Chelsea will not be willing to let him go if they fail to bring in Dembele, or someone else, in attack.

DC United acquires Julian Gressel from Atlanta

Atlanta United trades for Julian Gressel
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How much is Major League Soccer’s best assist man worth?

About $750,000.

DC United paid Atlanta United that fee in allocation money for the rights to Julian Gressel, who had been at a contract impasse with the club who drafted him in 2017.

That fee could hit $1.1 million in incentives, and even so could be a bargain.

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Gressel was due to make around $133,000 this season and wanted an improved deal from Atlanta given his massive production since becoming the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

That salary is less than hundreds of players, most of them nowhere near Gressel’s impact. Nineteen Atlanta United players made more than him last season, so it’s understandable that the 26-year-old wanted to get paid.

We don’t know what he was asking, or why Atlanta wouldn’t get there. From MLSSoccer.com:

“If we really wanted to, we could have had him play on $130,000 this season, extend him a bona fide offer at the end of the season and (we’d still own his MLS rights),” said Atlanta United vice president Carlos Bocanegra. “We’re also trying to do the right thing for a guy who has given so much to the club and is really just a good kid all around.”

It’s a weird one, given what the club’s been paying others.

Gressel arrived at Providence College from Eintracht Bamberg and immediately started delivering for the Big East side. He finished his four years with 30 goals and 26 assists and All-American status.

There was some adapting to MLS, but he’s gotten better with every season. He scored 10 goals with 13 assists in all competitions last season.

Spurs chairman reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale

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As a neutral, the idea of Gareth Bale rejoining Tottenham Hotspur would be a delight to our Premier League matchday viewing.

Obviously this applies to Spurs fans to the nth degree, especially after a dull 0-0 with Watford at the weekend.

In the short-term, Bale would be a terrific stopgap as Spurs struggle to find themselves without Harry Kane in both the PL and Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

In the long-term, Bale and Heung-Min Son on the wings of Harry Kane would be enough to make any PL power trio blush (unless Liverpool really does add Timo Werner).

A report out of Spain says Real Madrid president Florentino Perez met with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy about several things including the availability of Bale.

The Welsh star has been long admired by Jose Mourinho, and of course knows Spurs well having become a superstar after arriving from Southampton.

Bale is 30 and his wages would easily top Spurs’ pay list. His 21 goals and nine assists in the 2012/13 Premier League season join his 19 and 11 in 2015 La Liga as his top league seasons.

Spurs host Norwich City on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

Guardiola praises Laporte, “the best left central defender in the world”

Pep Guardiola praises Aymeric Laporte
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Manchester City kept its first clean sheet of 2020 on Tuesday, posting a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

It took the two-time reigning Premier League champions six tries to get there, the previous zero coming against this same Blades side at the Etihad Stadium.

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City manager Pep Guardiola was quick to give credit to a returning hero, as center back Aymeric Laporte returned to the fold for the first time since Aug. 31.

The club was 3W-1D at that point. They went 12W-2D-5L without him.

Here’s Guardiola, from the Manchester Evening News:

“It’s incredible,” Guardola said. “We have missed him a lot, he’s the best left central defender in the world. Imagine the best teams in the world lose their best central defender. We miss him a lot because he’s a specialist left foot where our buildup. He is fast, strong in the air.”

“He has something that we don’t have in the squad. His left foot and many actions to build up to make it quicker and better – we don’t have it, not because the other ones are not good but he has the only left foot as a central defender and for the way we want to play that is so important. His character and mentality and winning, he has all the attributes. For me, when he is fit he is the best left central defender in the world.”

If you read that as a little bit of an explanation for City being 13 points off Liverpool, you’ve similar eyes to us.

Pep is asking how Liverpool would look without Virgil Van Dijk, how Real Madrid appears when Sergio Ramos is out.

It’s not the be-all, end-all, but as I wrote when Laporte went down, this is the key piece to their defending efforts as well as where they begin possession.

We’re also grateful that Guardiola didn’t drop some sort of, “He’s like a January transfer addition,” statement (at least as far as we’ve read.

Chelsea admit they miss USMNT’s Pulisic

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LONDON — Since USMNT star Christian Pulisic was injured in training in the first week of January, Chelsea have lost against Newcastle, drawn with Arsenal and blown away Burnley.

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In the two games where they’ve dropped points they’ve missed Pulisic’s genius in the final third with both Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi easily shackled by Arsenal in their London derby. Chelsea admitted as much when speaking after the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Tuesday, an Arsenal side who played with 10 men for over 60 minutes of the game.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk about Pulisic’s adductor injury and if they missed him during the draw against Arsenal, downbeat Chelsea boss Frank Lampard noted that Pulisic, 21, was “playing really well” before his injury.

“Yeah, a game like today could have been a good where he would have been helpful for us because he was playing well for a patch. But other people have to stand up in those situations,” Lampard said.

When will Pulisic be back?

Lampard confirmed he is making good progress but will not be fit until after the mid-season player break in February, which means he will miss their FA Cup trip to Hull City this Saturday and their clash at Leicester City on Feb. 1. He may not be back until Feb. 17 when they host Manchester United in the Premier League, which means in total he will have been out for a period of six weeks.

“In terms of when he’s back, it is not going to be a week, it is probably be the other end of the early February break but he is getting better and he isn’t far away,” Lampard said.

Speaking to Pro Soccer Talk pitch-side at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who scored their late second goal which looked like being the winner, lavished praise on Pulisic when asked about his absence over the last week.

“Christian is a magnificent player. Since he joined us in the summer he has shown us his potential and we know that he can make the difference at any time. Whenever a player is injured it is not good for a team because we lose potential and I hope to have him back soon,” Azpilicueta said.

Chelsea’s skipper is expecting big things from Pulisic when he does return to fitness, as the fourth-place Blues now have just a six-point cushion to those outside of the top four and have played a game more.

It seems like everyone at Chelsea hopes the USMNT star can rejuvenate their attack in the final months of the season.

“After coming to Europe as a young boy to Germany, he came to Chelsea and it is one step forward, playing for Chelsea every game, fighting to win and fighting for trophies,” Azpilicueta said. “In my role I’ve tried to help in settle into the city and the club. He has a brilliant attitude. Always trying to improve. I am sure he will become bigger and bigger.”