Despite Wednesday evening's Champions League action involving both Chelsea and Real Madrid, Thursday's newspapers remain dominated by the fallout from Manchester United's shock defeat against Olympiakos 24 hours prior.
Reporters seem to have conflicting ideas about David Moyes' future at the club—with one broadsheet claiming he has just 12 games to save his job—but there is further speculation surrounding one of his key players, as things look set to get worse for the ex-Everton boss before they get better.
Elsewhere, there is some intriguing transfer speculation involving both Liverpool and Manchester City, so click on for all the day's gossip and transfer tidbits.
The Guardian reports that Robin van Persie is considering his Manchester United future, as the club endures a horribly disappointing campaign at home and in Europe.
Van Persie, 30, has two years remaining on his current deal, but the paper believes he could try and force a move elsewhere in the summer after becoming disgruntled at Old Trafford.
Jamie Jackson writes:
Robin van Persie is uncertain whether to remain at Manchester United and will consider his future in the summer. It is understood that the Dutchman has no release clause in a contract that will have two years left in July and the champions would resist any attempt by the player to leave.
The manner in which United resisted Wayne Rooney's desire to move to Chelsea last summer when he had become disgruntled with life at Old Trafford is now considered the default stance at the club when seeking to retain top-line players.
Following United's dismal 2-0 Champions League defeat at Oympiakos on Tuesday, van Persie signalled his disquiet by complaining that his team-mates were taking up positions he wanted to occupy. Although the striker was careful to defend Moyes, his frustration with his fellow players was also an implied criticism of the manager's tactical approach.
Van Persie was particularly disappointed when Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes' predecessor, retired at the end of last season.
On Wednesday night Raymond Verheijen, the former Wales coach who has been an outspoken critic of Moyes' United reign, suggested van Persie should look to leave the United "swamp." He wrote on Twitter (via the Evening Standard):
The Man United board must have been extremely desperate to save the Utd brand by giving a 300K per week salary to an ‘over the hill’ player.
Wayne Rooney is no longer a world class player. He is a player who once in a while delivers a world-class performance.
The problem of keeping both RvP & Rooney is that both players have to play. Playing with 2 strikers means No. 10 Mata has to play on the wing.
It would be better for him to leave the Man United swamp.
The Daily Mirror believes Liverpool will look to sign current Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic in the summer, should he be available for a knock-down price.
Bojan, who is currently on loan at Ajax, has struggled to establish himself after a series of temporary moves away from the Nou Camp and, with Barcelona seemingly seeing no future for him at the club, he is likely to be allowed to leave in the summer.
That could well pique the interest of Liverpool, who see the 23-year-old as a young player with a lot of potential—in a similar way to current Anfield star Philippe Coutinho.
The Mirror reports:
Just like Philippe Coutinho, snapped up from Inter Milan for £8.5m 13 months ago, Krkic fits the Anfield bill perfectly—a young player with a massive reputation who played more than 100 games for Barca, but has lost his way a little in recent seasons.
The Reds will monitor the situation, and if they can do a deal at around the £5m mark they are ready to make their move in the summer.
The paper quotes Bojan as recently saying, "We'll see about my future, there are still two months of the season to go before any decisions have to be made."
Manchester City have resolved to make Luke Shaw one of their top summer transfer window priorities, according to a report in Thursday's Guardian.
Shaw looks set to be one of the most sought-after players of the 2014 transfer market, with City believing he will strengthen their left-back ranks considerably.
Chelsea and Manchester United have also been long credited with an interest in the player, with the position widely accepted as one of slight weakness for both clubs.
The report reads:
Manchester City have identified Luke Shaw as a summer transfer target, with the manager, Manuel Pellegrini, intent on strengthening his options at left-back.
City face stiff competition from Chelsea and Manchester United for the 18-year-old but, with Gael Clichy having lost his first-team berth and doubts about the defensive abilities of his replacement Aleksandar Kolarov, the Southampton defender represents an attractive, long-term investment.
Chelsea are in pole position, with Shaw being a fan of the club and the training ground in Cobham being close to where his parents live.
Even if Patrice Evra decides to stay at United, David Moyes is intent on signing a left-back, though the champions have only an outside chance of landing Shaw.
Many of the day's newspapers seem to have conflicting opinions—or have received conflicting private briefings—about the future of David Moyes at Manchester United; with some saying that he retains the support of the club's owners and others suggesting he has until the end of the season to save his job.
The Times (subscription required) reports that the ex-Everton man has lost the dressing room somewhat, as players lose faith in his tactics and managerial style.
James Ducker writes:
The next few weeks could be critical in terms of determining whether Moyes can stop the rot, buy himself some valuable breathing space and win round a dressing room that is harbouring increasing doubts about the Scot’s suitability for the job.
Certainly, in the 2-0 defeat by Olympiakos, the players gave the impression that they had stopped playing for him. Even after the victory against Crystal Palace three days earlier, though, the word was of relief among the players that they had won, given the doubts that had been building about their ability to break down a resolute Palace side.
Confidence, collectively and individually, is at a real low, yet so is faith in Moyes' approach.
Jamie Jackson in The Guardian claims that Moyes' overhaul of United's scouting department has helped him earn the Glazers' mid-term backing:
David Moyes continues to have the firm backing of the Glazer family despite his dismal inaugural campaign as the Manchester United manager.
Such is the faith in Moyes that the ambition for 2014-15 is not to finish in a Champions League position but to win a 21st domestic title.
The support Moyes enjoys from the Glazers is based on the depth and detail with which he has restructured the club. Moyes has reconfigured United's scouting system, with the 50-year-old creating a dedicated nerve-centre at Carrington that resembles the 'bunker' from which he plotted player acquisition at Everton when manager.
Yet, in contrast to that, The Independent on Thursday leads with a story saying that David Moyes has just 12 games to save his United reign—no doubt increasing the pressure on the Scot.
Costa is considered one of the top targets in the summer for European clubs in need of striker—most notably Chelsea—and it has been reported that Atletico could let their top striker leave for Stamford Bridge, especially if it helps them secure on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Diego Simeone will still need to add a striker if Costa departs, however, and the Mirror believes Suarez is on the provisional shortlist the club has drawn up:
According to Spanish media outlet Cadena Ser, a series of players' names were leaked after a meeting between club officials to discuss their summer plans.
And while as many as six players were on the list, Liverpool's Uruguayan hitman was the star name.
Suarez had made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League and he looks as if he will get his wish this season, with Brendan Rodgers' men in pole position to finish in fourth.
However, that may not stop Simeone making a move, which could be funded by the potential departure of Diego Costa.
Other players linked with the Madrid club include Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic, Zenit's Axel Witsel and Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena.
The Daily Mirror claims that Kyle Naughton will leave Tottenham in the summer, as he searches for regular first-team football in his preferred position of right-back.
The Mirror also believes that Stoke could be in line to sign Croatia forward Ivica Olic in the summer, after the Wolfsburg man suggested the Potters were one of two clubs to approach him.
The Daily Express, meanwhile, remains adamant that Patrice Evra could join Inter Milan in the summer—following current Manchester United team-mate Nemanja Vidic—despite recent reports that the Frenchman will stay at Old Trafford for at least one more campaign.
The Daily Star quotes Shay Given as confirming that Aston Villa want him off their wage bill by the end of the summer.
Freddy Guarin, a January transfer window target for Chelsea, has seemingly committed his long-term future to Inter Milan, per the Daily Express.
And finally, the Daily Mail reports on Chelsea players being turned into characters in an upcoming episode of The Simpsons—although unfortunately it appears David Luiz is not among them.