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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.

Neymar heaps praise on USMNT’s Weah ahead of Celtic loan

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Even with the caveat that they are teammates, Neymar has issued some strong words in support of new Celtic loanee Timothy Weah.

“He has everything to go and be one of the top attacking players in Europe,” Neymar said.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

The American teenager couldn’t quite break into the PSG strike corps, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani chewing up minutes and the precious few remaining sprinkled between 19-year-old Moussa Diaby (2G-5A in 536 minutes) and 21-year-old Christopher Nkunku (1G-1A in 487 minutes, mostly in midfield).

There’s zero shame in that, and Neymar is tipping Weah to not just play well in Glasgow, but to star for the Scottish leaders. From The Scottish Daily Record:

“He has the talent, we know that, but also he has a great attitude. From the first day I have met him he has wanted to learn off the players who have already won the major trophies, from the players who have already achieved big things in the game.

“He is a fun guy to be around – but also he is very humble and that is what you want to see from a young player. It’s what a coach wants to see because it means they want to learn.”

Neymar went on to say Weah has the same demeanor the Brazilian possessed as a 18-year-old.

Weah has a goal in eight caps for the USMNT, and two goals in six senior appearances for PSG.

Ligue 1: Fabregas nearly the hero on Monaco debut

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PARIS (AP) — Cesc Fabregas almost had a dream debut for Monaco in the French league only for teammate Youri Tielemans to waste a late golden chance in a 1-1 draw at Marseille on Sunday.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Despite only signing from Premier League Chelsea on Friday, Fabregas went straight into the team and added poise and assurance to Monaco’s midfield.

In the first minute of injury time, Fabregas cleverly chipped the ball over the Marseille defense, only for Tielemans to drag his shot wide.

[ MORE: Messi scores 400th goal in route; the Madrids hold serve ]

Watching from the sideline, Monaco coach Thierry Henry could barely contain his frustration. Still, it was an important point for 19th-placed Monaco in its relegation fight.

Next up for Henry’s Monaco is eighth-placed Nice at home on Wednesday, a match which pits Henry against his former Arsenal and France teammate Patrick Vieira, who is now coach of Nice. Both Henry and Vieira were also teammates of Fabregas when he started his Arsenal career late in 2003.

Ligue 1: Mbappe scores no. 14; PSG enjoying massive lead

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PARIS (AP) Kylian Mbappe struck his French league-leading 14th goal as Paris Saint-Germain won at Amiens 3-0 on Saturday.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

The 20-year-old Mbappe has 14 goals in only 13 games, compared to 13 in 27 matches last season for PSG. France’s World Cup star is well on course to eclipse his best tally of 15 in 2017, when he was a rising star of world soccer and won the title with Monaco.

The win moved PSG 13 points clear of second-place Lille , having played two games less.

Edinson Cavani put PSG ahead from the penalty spot after 57 minutes and, after Mbappe struck in the 70th, center half Marquinhos completed the scoring in the 79th.

It was a return to winning ways after the humiliating home defeat to struggler Guingamp in the League Cup on Wednesday.

Amiens almost caught PSG with a perfect sucker-punch seconds before halftime, when a PSG free kick was cleared and Colombian Stiven Mendoza sprinted down the field before crossing into the penalty area. The ball fell to midfielder Eddy Gnahore, whose shot was kicked away by goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United ]

It was a reprieve for PSG, which was missing Brazil star Neymar. He was rested by coach Thomas Tuchel after taking a minor knock to his knee against Guingamp.

“There was a clash of knees and he felt some pain in the knee. He wasn’t free in his movements,” Tuchel said after the Amiens game. “It was too risky (to play him). It’s more important he’s not injured so he can be with us in Doha.”

Qatar-owned PSG is flying to Doha on Sunday for a four-day training camp.

Amiens looked in control until midfielder Alexis Blin slid to block a shot from Angel Di Maria with his arm. In the absence of Neymar, Cavani took the penalty and converted it confidently for his 11th league goal.

Midway through the second half, Amiens went down to 10 men when left back Khaled Adenon was sent off for a second yellow card after pulling back Mbappe.

Moments later, Mbappe swept in a fine cross from Cavani following a counterattack quickly launched by midfielder Julian Draxler, who dribbled his way into the area to set up Marquinhos.

Report: Neymar has been asking Barcelona to buy him back

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This is pretty sad.

Not in a “death of a family pet” way, rather a “buck up, son” way.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines ]

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar wants to return to Barcelona, and the megastar’s father has contacted Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu a handful of times in a bid to return to the Camp Nou.

From Marca:

“He is disappointed and sorry,” El Mundo report the player’s father as saying to the Barcelona president.

Anyway, if true, this is a big one (even if a move clearly wouldn’t happen until the summer).

The left winger has 18 goals and nine assists in 21 matches this season, including five and two in the UEFA Champions League. He was blanked against Napoli but had a goal and an assist against Liverpool.

His PSG record on the whole is unreal, with 46 goals and 25 assists in 51 games.

At 26, he’s got years left in his prime and Malcom, Ousmane Dembele, and Philippe Coutinho have yet to grab the proverbial bulls by their horns.

Here’s why the move would not necessarily be insane rumor mill click-mongering: It takes a special cat to thrive with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and Neymar has proven he can do that. In fact, he’d likely be in line to play a bigger role than when he previously spent time at Barca.