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Praise for Pulisic; Gold Cup to delay Chelsea debut?

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Christian Pulisic is getting ready to head to London this week, as his Borussia Dortmund side play against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash.

[ MORE: UCL last 16 picks

All eyes will be on the USMNT star, officially a Chelsea player but on loan at Dortmund for the rest of the 2018-19 campaign, as the hype around his Premier League arrival continues to grow.

Pulisic, 20, could play a key role for Dortmund against Spurs as Marco Reus is out injured for the game at Wembley, while multiple outlets in the UK are focusing on the fact that he will likely be called up to play for Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT squad for the Gold Cup this summer.

With the U.S. expected to go far in the competition, Pulisic could miss the start of Chelsea’s preseason as they’re scheduled to play a game in Japan in mid-July, just a few days after the Gold Cup final.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that Chelsea will go on a tour of Asia this summer, with the game in Japan the first leg of their preseason.

Pulisic will likely be given a 21-day break after the Gold Cup final, meaning he will not be able to train with Chelsea until a week before the 2019-20 PL season begins. That said, Pulisic hasn’t played a lot for Dortmund this season so even if he features, as expected, for the USMNT this summer, he could make a good impression by turning up early for Chelsea’s preseason.

As for the British perception of Pulisic right now, BBC and BT Sport host Gary Lineker  told football.london that he likes Pulisic but prefers Sancho.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of him and I think he’s got a lot of talent,” Lineker said. “He’s not been an out-and-out regular in their side. I prefer Jadon Sancho to be perfectly honest from what I’ve seen, which is quite a lot as I do watch a hell of a lot of football from all leagues like a geek! He is talented, there’s no question about that.”

“It’s good to see a young American talent because if he does become a superstar that will be a real lift for the game over the other side of the pond. He’s got a lot of talent and it will be interesting to see how he does at Chelsea. He’s got a real chance, but if I could pick one of them I would definitely go with Sancho.”

Pulisic isn’t one for focusing on what others think about him, and when asked about the game against Spurs and impressing fans in England he said it is a “it’s a chance to show them what I’m about.”

If Pulisic helps Dortmund knock Spurs out of the Champions League, he will already be a fans favorite at Chelsea before he has even kicked a ball for the Blues.

“Sounds good,” Pulisic said. “I don’t look at that stuff all that much. I’m just trying to focus here and trying to enjoy the rest of my time here.”

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern closes ground after BVB’s awful finish

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A wild day in the Bundesliga saw humiliating performances for two of the Top Three.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth ]

The third side did not blow its chance to take advantage, as Bayern Munich moved ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach to get within five points of leaders Borussia Dortmund.


Borussia Dortmund 3-3 Hoffenheim

Leading 3-0 at home with 15 minutes remaining in the match, Dortmund disintegrated.

There’s no other way to describe it. Jadon Sancho, Mario Gotze, and Raphael Guerreiro led to a solitary point thanks in large part to Ishak Belfodil.

The 27-year-old scored his fifth and six goals of the season, sandwiched around a Pavel Kaderabek goal, as Hoffenheim keeps its European hopes alive.

USMNT attacker Christian Pulisic was an unused sub in the draw after playing 120 minutes at midweek. BVB meets Tottenham on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Borussia Monchengladbach 0-3 Hertha Berlin

Thirty-three year old Salomon Kalou was among the scorers as Hertha scored a result almost as surprising as Hoffenheim’s draw. Ondrej Duda and Davie Selke scored second half goals to put the away win in the bag.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Schalke

An own goal started the scoring at the Allianz Arena, and the hosts didn’t wilt when Schalke answered in the 25th minute, as American midfielder set up Ahmed Kutucu.

The deadlock lasted all of two minutes.

Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry scored on either side of halftime to give Bayern a boost in the table and leading into a UEFA Champions League tie with Liverpool.

And Lewandowski assisted Gnabry’s goal with a very nice-looking overhead attempt.

Elsewhere
Mainz 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
RB Leipzig 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Freiburg 3-3 Wolfsburg
Hannover 96 2-0 Nurnberg
Werder Bremen v. Augsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Stuttgart — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 21 15 5 1 54 23 31 9-2-0 6-3-1 50
 Bayern Munich 21 14 3 4 47 24 23 6-3-1 8-0-3 45
 Mönchengladbach 21 13 3 5 41 21 20 9-0-1 4-3-4 42
 RB Leipzig 21 11 5 5 38 18 20 7-3-1 4-2-4 38
 Eintracht Frankfurt 21 9 6 6 40 27 13 5-2-3 4-4-3 33
 Bayer Leverkusen 21 10 3 8 37 32 5 5-1-4 5-2-4 33
 VfL Wolfsburg 21 9 5 7 32 30 2 3-3-4 6-2-3 32
 Hertha BSC Berlin 21 8 7 6 34 31 3 4-4-2 4-3-4 31
 1899 Hoffenheim 21 7 9 5 41 32 9 3-5-3 4-4-2 30
 Werder Bremen 20 7 6 7 32 32 0 3-4-3 4-2-4 27
 FSV Mainz 05 21 7 6 8 23 33 -10 4-4-3 3-2-5 27
 SC Freiburg 21 5 8 8 29 37 -8 3-5-3 2-3-5 23
 FC Schalke 04 21 6 4 11 25 32 -7 4-0-6 2-4-5 22
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 20 6 4 10 22 39 -17 4-0-6 2-4-4 22
 FC Augsburg 20 4 6 10 29 33 -4 2-4-4 2-2-6 18
 VfB Stuttgart 20 4 3 13 17 44 -27 3-2-5 1-1-8 15
 Hannover 96 21 3 5 13 20 44 -24 3-1-7 0-4-6 14
 1. FC Nürnberg 21 2 6 13 17 46 -29 2-4-5 0-2-8 12

Reports: Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi hands in transfer request to force Bayern move

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As far as Callum Hudson-Odoi is concerned, the time for the next step of his career has arrived, and it doesn’t involve Chelsea, the club that has developed and nurtured him from the age of seven.

[ Transfer rumor roundup: Perisic to Arsenal; Gomez to West Ham ]

Now 18 years old and having shone brightly in his handful of appearances for the Blues, Hudson-Odoi is seeking a regular first-team place and he’s willing to leave west London London England to prove his worth. According to multiple reports out of the UK, Hudson-Odoi has submitted an official transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to German giants Bayern Munich.

The six-time Bundesliga champions have been linked with a $25-million deal for the London-born forward in recent weeks. With no new assurances he’ll be given first-team opportunities, Hudson-Odoi recently rejected Chelsea’s offer of a new contract that would reportedly pay him north of $110,000 per week. Rather than going the route of loan after loan, which has become synonymous with Chelsea academy products for the past decade, Hudson-Odoi prefers the stability of a permanent move — even abroad.

[ FA CUPSETS: West Ham bounced by third-tier Wimbledon | Millwall oust Everton ]

When you consider that Bayern remain one of the biggest clubs in the world — an absolute behemoth in their domestic league, whether or not they’ll eventually win their seventh straight Bundesliga title this season — it all seems a bit backwards that a young player views a perennial Champions League contender like Bayern a better place to earn playing time than, say, a yo-yo-ing (not to mention, aging) top-four Premier League side like Chelsea.

Hudson-Odoi will have no doubt seen the success and rise to prominence of Jadon Sancho since making his move from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017. 19-year-old Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson is currently on loan to Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, where he’s enjoying a successful spell of his own with six goals in 13 appearances (five starts).

For far too long, English players were hesitant to insistent against moving abroad, for any number of reasons. However, in recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that the place to come of age is any number of countries and clubs elsewhere on the continent.

Three or five years from now, PL clubs — maybe even Chelsea or Man City — will pay upward of $75 million to bring players like Hudson-Odoi and Sancho back to the PL, when a bit of patience and trust in their in-house youngsters could have saved them tens of millions — if not hundreds of millions by then — of dollars. Not only is testing themselves abroad a smart route for a number of elite young players, but it’s also a market inefficiency that dozens of clubs should be looking to exploit.

Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

Bundesliga is back: What to watch for

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The Winterpause ends Friday, as Bayern Munich visits Hoffenheim with a new feel for its first match of a calendar year: That of the title chaser.

The six-time defending Bundesliga champions enter the second half of the season six points back of Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Still 2.5 months from the next Der Klassiker (April 6 at the Allianz Arena), Bayern has to navigate a title fight without the chance to directly affect its rivals. Both clubs face Premier League opposition in the Champions League — Bayern with Liverpool, BVB v. Spurs — and neither has a particularly easy start to 2019. Other storylines to watch:

How much will Christian Pulisic’s transfer further affect his playing time? Whether or not Pulisic leaves for Chelsea as a Bundesliga champion is one thing, but many American eyes will be trained upon how often he’s deployed by Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund.

Let’s be clear on one thing: Favre has rotated his forwards heavily between Champions League and the Bundesliga. Jadon Sancho has played 1025 minutes, Jacob Bruun Larsen 830, Maximilian Philipp 515, Paco Alcacer 503, and Pulisic 483. Numbers two through eight on the playing time scale are defenders or midfielders (Marco Reus is first with 1483).

Amongst BVB attackers in the Champions League, however, only Reus has played more than Pulisic’s 339 minutes. And while Pulisic played 1 and 2 minutes in consecutive Bundesliga matches, he went 90 against Monaco in the UCL match separating those sub spots.

In other words, this isn’t as much of a quagmire as some Americans would lead you to believe. Yes, ex-Man City man Jadon Sancho has stolen Pulisic’s wonder boy numbers and title, but the kid isn’t being left in the cold.

Is Weston McKennie heading for Liverpool? It seems more likely a new deal is coming at Schalke, but you could easily see Jurgen Klopp liking the versatility of the 20-year-old midfielder as its midfield gets a bit older.

Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

What about the rest of the Americans (and a Canadian)? Almost as many eyes will be on Tyler Adams as the New York Red Bulls product takes the next step at RB Leipzig. FC Dallas’ Chris Richards is also now with Bayern Munich, while Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies begins his much-anticipated time with Bayern.

John Brooks of Wolfsburg is the top-rated American player in the top flight this season via WhoScored.com, one of eight Yanks to take the field.

Here are the Americans abroad in Germany :

Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund — 11 apps, 483 mins, 1G-2A
Weston McKennie, Schalke — 13 apps, 778 mins, 1G-1A
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen —
2 goals in 45 senior minutes
John Brooks, Wolfsburg — 16 apps, 1440 mins, 1G-1A
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig  —  
Arrived in January
Haji Wright, Schalke  —  5 senior games, 1 goal
Bobby Wood, Hannover 96 — 14 apps, 913 mins, 3G-1A
Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen — Hasn’t played
Fabian Johnson, ‘Gladbach — 11 apps, 543 mins, 1 goal
Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Hasn’t played
Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — 11 apps, 917 mins, 1 goal
Caleb Stanko, Freiburg — Hasn’t played
Timothy Tillman, Nurnberg — Hasn’t played

How low will Schalke finish? A dreadful start to the season has last season’s No. 2 team, Schalke, sitting four points above the relegation playoff spot, nine back of the last Europa League spot, and 13 behind the Top Four.

Schalke’s other route to Europe include the DFB-Pokal, where they next face Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Round of 16, and winning the Champions League (Manchester City is their next opponent).

Will Robert Lewandowski defend his Golden Boot? The Bayern Munich star is chasing his fourth time leading the league in goals since 2013-14, his final year at Dortmund. Here are the current leaders:

Race for the Golden Boot
Pos Name Total
1 Luka Jovic, Eintracht Frankfurt 12
1 Paco Alcácer, Borussia Dortmund 12
3 Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund 11
3 Timo Werner, RB Leipzig 11
5 Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich 10
6 Sebastien Haller, Eintracht Frankfurt 9
6 Thorgan Hazard, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
6 Alessane Plea, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
9 Youssef Poulsen, RB Leipzig 8
10 Alfred Finnbogason, Augsburg 7

[ MORE: Emery on possible exit for Mesut Ozil, reason for his absence ]

Will any of the new boys survive? Two teams go down and a third goes to a playoff game against the third place team in 2.Bundesliga (currently FC St. Pauli).

This season, the four latest teams to earn promotion are all in danger of the drop. Here’s how bottom of the table looks:

14. Fortuna Dusseldorf(2018/19) – 18
15. Augsburg (2011/12) – 15
16. Stuttgart (2017/18) – 14
17. Hannover 96 (2017/18) – 11
18. Nurnberg (2018/19) -11

Transfer rumor roundup: Klopp lining up USMNT starlet; Higuain dominoes

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If you blinked, you might have missed the first half of January, along with the first half of the January transfer window.

Don’t worry, though. Given the lack of deals completed thus far, it would appear that most Premier League clubs missed it, too…

[ MORE: Emery on possible exit for Mesut Ozil, reason for his absence ]

U.S. men’s national team midfielder Weston McKennie sits high atop Jurgen Klopp‘s wish list and could be set for a move to Liverpool — most likely in the summer — according to a report from the Sun (from the same reporter who was first on the scene with word of Manchester City’s interest in USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen).

A bid — expected to be around $26 million — for the 20-year-old could very well be made this month with McKennie allowed to remain at Schalke through the end of the season. Fellow USMNT star Christian Pulisic will join Chelsea this summer, for $73 million, after completing a similar arrangement with Borussia Dortmund.


Perhaps the highest-profile move we’re likely to see this month could be completed inside the next 24 hours, as Chelsea are doing everything within their power to bring Gonzalo Higuain to London in time for Saturday’s trip to Arsenal (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com).

The Blues reportedly made an official offer to Juventus for a six-month loan, with an option for a further 12 months and/or an option to make the transfer permanent, on Wednesday. Higuain is currently on loan to AC Milan.

According to the Standard, manager Maurizio Sarri is desperate for the 31-year-old to arrive as soon as possible.


With Higuain widely expected to complete his move to Chelsea in the coming hours or days, the dominoes will almost certainly quickly fall, beginning with current Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata. After an up-and-down first season and a half at Stamford Bridge, Morata has fallen out of favor with Sarri and could very well leave the club before the window closes on Jan. 31.

According to a report from Sky Sports, Atletico Madrid are already in advanced negotiations with the club and/or player over a $60-million transfer back to the Spanish capital where he was previously surplus to requirements at Real Madrid. Chelsea paid nearly $100 million for the now-26-year-old in the summer of 2017. Atleti signed Diego Costa from Chelsea, for more than $70 million, not long after acquiring two summers ago.


With Harry Kane set to miss the next two months due to another ankle ligament injury, Tottenham Hotspur will surely be linked with a loan move for every available forward over these next 14 days — no matter unlikely they are to actually make a move.

Today’s fill-in comes courtesy of the Telegraph, who claim Liverpool’s Divock Origi is one player currently considered as an option. Fernando Llorente remains at the club despite rumors linking him with various moves around Europe. Mauricio Pochettino will also consider promoting 16-year-old Troy Parrott from Under-23 team, according to talkSPORT.


  • Arsenal are desperate to shed Mesut Ozil’s $450,000-per-week contract with the German international seemingly not in the plans of manager Unai Emery. The Gunners will almost certainly have to eat a significant chunk of his remaining wages, or accept a heavily reduced fee.
  • At 21 years old, Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong is one of the most sought-after youngsters in the world, with the likes of Man City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly hot in pursuit. According to the Mirror, only PSG are willing to meet Ajax’s $85-million valuation of the five-times-capped Dutch international, despite his preference being a move to the defending PL champions.
  • Another Chelsea forward, Michy Batshuayi, remains in limbo as the club attempts to secure a $50-million offer for the 25-year-old. Ligue 1 strugglers Monaco have reportedly already agreed loan terms with Batshuayi and Valencia, where the Belgian has been on loan since the start of the season, but the Blues are holding out for a bid leading to recouping a hefty fee.
  • Bayern Munich claim to be in negotiations with Chelsea and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi after the 18-year-old has shone brightly in limited opportunities with the Blues. In a bid for more first-team action, Hudson-Odoi is said to be open to a move to Germany, following in the footsteps of Dortmund wonderkid Jadon Sancho.