Paper News and Gossip: Balotelli Chelsea Link Crushed, Aguero Slammed and More
The transfer window is over two months away from falling open, but there’s plenty of speculation in the papers.
There’s also comment from Manuel Pellegrini with regard to his keeper battle between Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon.
There are also harsh words from one Argentina great towards another.
All this and more feature in Thursday’s edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
AC Milan Rubbish Mario Balotelli Chelsea Talk
The Express' Charles Perrin has poured cold water on his own report which linked Mario Balotelli with a move to Chelsea.
In a piece on Wednesday, Perrin carried quotes from Balotelli's agent who claimed the striker "could be reunited" with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
The rumour mill kicked into gear, but AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, per Perrin's report on Thursday, has thrown a spanner in the works by insisting the striker is not on his way out of the Rossoneri.
Per Perrin's piece, Allegri said:
He will not leave in January. Absolutely not. I think Mario should be left in peace.
It's not difficult to manage him.
There's far too much discussion of the man's private life. I think that Balotelli should be judged for what he does on the pitch like all other players.
Diego Maradona Lashes out at 'wimp' Sergio Aguero
Diego Maradona has let fly at Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, branding him a "wimp," reports the Mail's Charles Reynolds.
Aguero had been in a long-term relationship with Maradona's daughter, and they have a son together.
However, the relationship soured, as reported by the Telegraph, and they are now going through a divorce battle.
It would appear the most famous footballer in Argentina's history is not happy with Aguero, and is keen to be by his daughter's side when the legal battle resumes.
Reynolds' piece cites an Argentinian radio station as the source of Maradona's quotes:
He’s a wimp, who I don’t even want to name.
In my daughter’s next meeting with a lawyer, I want to be by her side. We’ll see who can talk.
The next time I want to be there to see if he (Augero) says anything.
Maradona turned 53 on Wednesday, but age does not show any signs of mellowing the World Cup winner.
Alexandre Pato Reveals Tottenham Hotspur Offer
Former AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato has revealed, per the Mail's Simon Jones, that Tottenham attempted to sign him from Corinthians in the summer.
Tottenham's North London rivals Arsenal had been linked, per the Daily Star's Gary Jones, but his namesake Simon Jones carries quotes from the striker naming Spurs as a side who made a summer gambit.
Pato, per the Mail, told Sportv: "Tottenham had called Corinthians to ask for my transfer. I sat at the table with the club and my agent and I decided I wanted to stay."
Pato is no stranger to European football, as he had a spell with Serie A giants Milan from 2007 to 2013.
Manuel Pellegrini Admits to Joe Hart Keeper Problem
Joe Hart will find out on Thursday if he is set for an extended spell on the sidelines at Manchester City.
The England international's position as City's No. 1 has come under threat following a number of blunders this term.
He was partly to blame for the club's agonising defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, and was replaced by Costel Pantilimon for the Capital One Cup trip to Newcastle.
A number of reports, including one from the Mirror, screamed that Hart had been dropped, but that is premature given Pantilimon regularly features in City's cup games.
The giant Romanian, who stands at 6'8'', did his cause no harm as he made a couple of excellent saves as City beat Newcastle after extra time.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini was asked about his goalkeeping situation. According to the Mail's Sam Cunningham, Pellegrini replied that it will a problem he will attempt to solve on Thursday.
Pellegrini, speaking about Pantilimon, said:
He is a very good goalkeeper and he normally plays in the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup.
This was a very important match for him. But I will start to think about the game against Norwich on Thursday.
Today I was just thinking about winning this match. I think that we will talk tomorrow (about the team selection).
One goalkeeper can play but the other will have our full support. We will think about it.
Toronto Boss Ryan Nelsen Sets Sights on Jermain Defoe
Tottenham are short of striking options, but that has not prevented one of their former players from expressing an interest in signing Jermain Defoe.
Ryan Nelsen, the former Tottenham defender, is now in charge of Toronto, and he has signalled his intention to lure the England international to Canada, writes the Mirror's Darren Lewis.
Per Lewis' piece, Nelsen said:
He is one of the most natural goal-scorers I have ever come across. Always out training, always trying to score.
To get a guy like Defoe for MLS, I cannot think of many that are more suited—I think if you ask most Premier League teams, they would take Defoe.
It would be incredible. I call him and text him all the time. Him playing in Toronto would be phenomenal.
If you look around the world and try and think of a realistic player—and I am not sure how realistic he is—that complements a league like ours, never gets injured, doesn’t drink, can play high, low, scores all sorts of goals.
Lewis suggests Nelsen will make his move in January, and cites the return of Emmanuel Adebayor following a spell with the reserves as a potential opening for the Toronto coach to get his man.
Spurs have also been linked with a move for Corinthians' Pato, whose signing would impact Defoe's chances of regular football at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal in Hunt for £6 Million Winston Reid
Arsenal are plotting a raid on West Ham for defender Winston Reid, reports Metro's Jamie Sanderson.
Gunners chief Arsene Wenger has sent scouts scouring the market for players, and he has been alerted to Reid, per Sanderson, by a glowing report from chief scout Steve Rowley, "who has drawn up extensive reports on Reid’s performances and background."
Sanderson says Manchester United and Liverpool are also interested, but claims a £6 million bid could be on its way from Arsenal in January.
New Zealand international Reid joined West Ham from Swedish side Midtjylland in 2010.
Barcelona Ready to Battle Arsenal and Manchester United for Ilkay Gundogan
If Arsenal and Manchester United want to sign Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund, they should brace themselves for a battle with Barcelona, writes the Express’ Ben Jefferson.
Gundogan is one of Europe’s brightest midfield prospects, and has been linked with both Arsenal and United.
However, Jefferson has picked up on reports in Spain which claim Barcelona have earmarked him as a potential replacement for Xavi.
In his piece, Jefferson writes:
Both United and Arsenal were linked with a summer move for Gundogan, and the player's failure to agree a new contract at Dortmund has only added to the speculation that the German international may be ready to move on.
And reports in Spain suggest that Barcelona have thrown their hat into the ring to add the 23-year-old to their squad.
According to AS Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta travelled to Germany at the start of the week to discuss a potential move for Gundogan.
Bits and Pieces: Pardew Palace Link, Reds Eye New Faces and Young to Fight on
In a piece tagged as exclusive, the Mirror's Ed Malyon claims Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is interested in the vacancy at Crystal Palace.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has trained his sights on Derby County's Will Hughes and Mohamed Salah of Swiss side Basel, writes the Mirror's Liam Prenderville.
Fulham and Steve Sidwell are at loggerheads over a new contract, writes the Mirror’s James Nursey. Sidwell wants a two-year deal, but Fulham have only offered him one year.
The Star's Jeremy Cross has picked up on some quotes from Ashley Young, who says he is ready to fight for his future at Manchester United.
Steaua Bucharest left-back Iasmin Latovlevici is being linked with a move to Liverpool, per the Star's Gary Jones, who carries quotes from the player's agent on the subject.