Paper Gossip: Man Utd Chase Miralem Pjanic, Vincent Kompany Wanted by Monaco?

Alex Dimond@alexdimondUK Lead WriterOctober 29, 2013

Paper Gossip: Man Utd Chase Miralem Pjanic, Vincent Kompany Wanted by Monaco?

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    Tuesday's newspaper gossip columns contain more excitable stories about big European transfers being lined up—and it seems the vultures are already lining up after AS Roma's remarkable start to the season.

    Elsewhere there is news of possible departures for two leading Premier League defenders, while there is also finally some good news for Gareth Bale at Real Madrid.

    So click on for the round-up of the day's best rumours.

Miralem Pjanic Latest £25m Midfielder Linked with Manchester United

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    Miralem Pjanic is on Manchester United's radar, with Gazzetta dello Sport claiming the club are ready to test AS Roma's resolve with a £25 million bid for the attacking midfielder.

    Pjanic, 23, has been instrumental as Roma have made a flying start to the season in Serie A—but it remains to be seen if the lure of Old Trafford is enough to tear him away.

    As relayed by the Daily Express:

    Pjanic was a top target for Spurs in the summer, though a deal failed to materialise.

    More significantly, having bought Erik Lamela, Roma were reluctant to offload Pjanic.

    The 23-year-old Bosnian is being eyed up by United according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    It is also known that Pjanic turned down proposals to renew his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

    £25m seems a lot of money for a player out of contract in the summer—only yesterday the same paper was reporting that Robert Lewandowski, a more high-profile player in a similar situation, was being offered for £7m—but it remains to be seen if Roma would be receptive to any offer.

Monaco Target Vincent Kompany in Big-Money January Deal

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    French side AS Monaco will make a lucrative move for Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany in January, according to the Daily Express.

    Monaco, who are backed by billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, are currently neck-and-neck with fellow big spenders Paris St-Germain in Ligue 1, with the Express claiming that the club believe shoring up the defence is a priority if they want to keep pace.

    Kompany is their target, although Barcelona may complicate matters if they move on a long-held regard for the Belgian.

    City themselves have few financial concerns, so they have little incentive to sell one of their most important players. It appears that will not stop Monaco from testing the waters, though.

Franck Ribery Heads Bayern Munich-Dominated Ballon D'Or Shortlist

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    Elsewhere, in the early hours of Tuesday morning FIFA and France Football announced their 23-man shortlist for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

    In a lineup of few surprises, reigning Champions League winners Bayern Munich have the most nominations with six, with Franck Ribery widely regarded as one of the favourites for this year's award.

    There are nominations as usual for Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta—while the world's most expensive player, Gareth Bale, gets a nod despite a difficult start to life at Real Madrid.

    The captains and head coaches of each national team, along with selected members of the media, will now vote for their winner, with the top three being announced in December.

    The full FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist:

    Gareth Bale (Wales), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribéry (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).

Joe Hart Facing the Axe for Club and Country After Latest Blunder

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    Joe Hart will finally be dropped by Manchester City following his latest blunder, according to Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail.

    Following his part in the defensive mix-up that cost City dearly against Chelsea on Sunday, manager Manuel Pellegrini is set to play Costel Pantilimon in goal for the club's Capital One Cup match against Newcastle on Wednesday—with a view to keeping him between the sticks going into the weekend's Premier League meeting with Norwich.

    Pantilimon has tended to be the preferred goalkeeper in the Capital One Cup this season, but his performance against Newcastle may hold extra significance.

    Ashton writes:

    City’s next Barclays Premier League fixture is against Norwich on Saturday at the City of Manchester Stadium and Hart is no longer guaranteed to start.

    Manager Manuel Pellegrini was furious with his keeper after City slid to their third defeat on the road in the Premier League.

    Ashton's assertion is backed up by James Ducker of the The Times (subscription required). Ducker adds:

    Hart retains the long-term trust of City’s management staff and there is an acceptance that a series of injuries in defence have hampered the goalkeeper to a degree, but there is also a belief that he would now benefit from time on the sidelines and out of the spotlight.

    Hart is also set to be dropped at international level—although this may only be on a temporary basis.

    Ashton writes that Roy Hodgson will blood Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster against Chile in November, before Hart is restored to the starting lineup for the friendly against Germany at Wembley a few days later.

    Ashton adds:

    He still rates Hart as one of the best keepers around but wants to blood some alternatives before the World Cup, and the games are already running out.

    Since Hodgson replaced Fabio Capello as England head coach in May 2012, Jack Butland, John Ruddy and Ben Foster have played only 45 minutes each.

Daniel Agger Makes 'Play Me or Lose Me' Threat to Liverpool

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    Liverpool could be heading for life without Daniel Agger after the defender revealed he would demand to leave the club if he continues to be left out of the first-team.

    Agger has been overlooked in recent weeks in favour of the likes of Martin Skrtel and new signings Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho, raising the prospect of his imminent departure.

    According to The Sun (subscription required) and Express, Agger said: "If I don’t play. If the manager doesn’t think I’m good enough, that could make me leave Liverpool."

    “I’m here to play football, nothing else. So if I don’t play football, then I don’t want to be here.”

    Barcelona have previously been linked with the Denmark international.


Bits and Pieces: Clubs Fight for Salah, Exit Finally in Store for Adebayor?

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    Liverpool and Tottenham are both lingering around the Basel winger Mohamed Salah, according to the Daily Mail, who also report that both clubs will show firm interest in Derby star Will Hughes in January.

    After revealing Michel Platini's for World Cup expansion on Monday, The Times (subscription required) reports that the 40-team proposal has been met with "cautious enthusiasm" by members of FIFA's hierarchy.

    The Daily Mirror is confident former Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal midfielder Yossi Benayoun will sign a two-year deal with QPR this week. Benayoun is currently a free agent.

    Darren Fletcher played over 60 minutes for the Manchester United Under-21s on Monday night, raising the prospect of a first-team return in the near future. MUTV showed that David Beckham was also at the game, while the Daily Mail claims that Wilfried Zaha's absence is an indication he will be involved in the Capital One Cup clash with Norwich this week.

    Martin Jol has denied claims he has made an approach to bring Clint Dempsey back to Fulham in January, with the Mirror quoting him as calling it "unbelievable speculation."

    Besiktas will return for out-of-favour Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor in January, according to the Express.