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Kick Off: Obafemi Martins
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Kick Off: International names fire up 2012 hot stove talk

The rumor mill did not take the day off on Jan. 1.

While many are still getting their heads around the Samuel Eto’o chatter that hit the wires this weekend, another African-born player is said to be courted by an MLS club. This article claims that former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins has held talks with the LA Galaxy. Apparently he does not like the night life in Russia, where he plays for Rubin Kazan.

We’re not done with the big names. In Italy, they are speculating that there is more to Luca Toni’s stay in New York City than merely a New Year’s getaway trip. That’s what Italian daily Tuttosport is hearing.

Although LA Designated Player Robbie Keane has said he is not seeking any sort of loan move, in England they say that Aston Villa are actively seeking to work out a two-month arrangement with the Galaxy.

There is nothing official on the Thierry Henry to Arsenal loan deal, but there was a photo published on the club’s website featuring Henry in a Gunners jersey. Check it out here. (PHOTO)

Arsenal players are not holding back from discussing his return. Robin van Persie calls the Frenchman “brave” for putting his reputation on the line as a legendary figure for the club.

At one point it looked like a done deal that David Beckham would sign with Paris-St. Germain. Now the word is that new PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti could prefer Kaká over the English midfielder.

As far as PSG sporting director Leonardo is concerned, the Beckham decision revolves around family and the French club is willing to wait: “The question has never been professional, but about family. It is a difficult choice to make the whole family move to Paris. We will wait a little. It is a personal choice, and it is not that easy to him.”

It helps to have Hollywood. It seems that Frank Lampard’s wife has the potential of a gig alongside Simon Cowell on X Factor in the US if the Chelsea star’s rumored move to MLS materializes. “The Americans love an Irish presenter,” said one source for the story.

While many of us have turned our focus to 2012, Portland Timbers right back Lovell Palmer is still reflecting on 2011 and how his ex-teammates at the Houston Dynamo made the MLS Cup final after he was traded: “As an athlete, you will definitely feel bad because you start to wonder to yourself, ‘Was I the person who was holding back the team, why?”

Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear is reaping the rewards of that amazing turnaround in 2011. The Houston Chronicle says that his old contract was ripped up and he was given a new four-year deal by the club’s owners.

Also with a vote of confidence for 2012 is Chicago Fire boss Frank Klopas, who is reportedly lining up a Spanish midfielder who goes by the lone moniker Abraham. He’s a 26-year-old who plays for Alcorcón in his native Spain. (SPANISH)

While Spain is relatively unchartered territory as far as the MLS talent search goes, the mining for talent in Colombia is well established. Find out more about two young players who are reportedly set to join the MLS Player Combine in Florida ahead of the SuperDraft. For comparison’s sake, they hope to be the Javier Mascherano and Mario Yepes of MLS. (SPANISH)

Things are less clear for New England Revolution forward Rajko Lekic, who tells a Danish outlet that he hopes for a resolution to his future in the next 10 days. (DANISH)

We leave you with the TV action for today from England, which is highlighted by Clint Dempsey’s match against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal: Wolverhampton vs. Chelsea (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer) and Fulham vs. Arsenal (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer).

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

SuperDraft prospect mulling over decision between MLS and Mexican league

Luke Rogers vs. Landon Donovan spat highlights the top quotes of 2011

The Kasey Keller tribute is recognized as the Moment of the Year

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