Paper News & Gossip: Balotelli on Spurs' Radar, Villas-Boas Reveals Barca Dream
Friday's gossip columns are dominated by former Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, who has publicly expressed his interest in managing Barcelona or Real Madrid—with the former currently believed to be considering a change of management.
Villas-Boas' old club are keeping busy, however, with reports in some quarters that they are preparing a big part-exchange offer in order to land one of Europe's most-feared strikers.
Elsewhere, there is bad news for Nicolas Anelka and good news for Fraser Forster, so read on for all Friday's transfer rumours and reports.
Tottenham to Use Erik Lamela to Land Mario Balotelli?
The Daily Express's Ben Jefferson claims that Tottenham are considering using Erik Lamela to land Mario Balotelli from AC Milan, despite interest from their close rivals Arsenal.
Speculation surrounding Balotelli's future is never far away, with the latest round of reports suggesting the Italy international could move to Arsenal in the summer, after the Gunners' new sponsorship deal with Puma (who also endorse Balotelli) gave them the funds to finance a swoop, per Jefferson.
Tottenham, however, are also keen on the ex-Manchester City striker—and believe they might be able to move to the head of the queue for the player by offering Lamela in part-exchange.
The Express reports:
The Gunners have been linked with a £40m move for the former Manchester City striker, backed by new kit provider Puma, who also have a sponsorship agreement with Balotelli.
But according to reports in Italy Tottenham also have their sights set on the unpredictable frontman.
And with Lamela struggling to adapt after making a £30m move from Roma in the summer Spurs sense an opportunity to get one over on their fierce rivals.
Balotelli is unlikely to move to a club without Champions League football, however. This makes a top-four finish even more important for Spurs.
Villas-Boas Keen on Barcelona Job as Spanish Side Shop Around
Andre Villas-Boas has said it would be a "dream" to manage Barcelona, amid speculation that the club are considering replacing Gerardo Martino at the end of the current season.
The Daily Mail reports that Villas-Boas expects to be back in management in the summer, after being dismissed by Spurs in December. Villas-Boas said:
Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the best teams in the world. I am a young coach and it would be a dream to train either Madrid or Barcelona.
I would like to get to know other leagues and I have had offers from various teams. From around next June I am sure I will be managing again.
Villas-Boas' comments come in the wake of renewed speculation that Barcelona are considering parting ways with Martino in the summer, after a difficult first season at the club.
Meanwhile, Barcelona look set to complete the signing of Dinamo Zagreb's highly-rated young attacker Alen Halilovic, after the youngster posted a message to that effect on Instagram.
Nicolas Anelka's West Brom Career over After Quenelle Verdict
Nicolas Anelka is unlikely to play for West Brom again, reports The Times' Gary Jacob (subscription required), following the results of the hearing into the controversial "quenelle" goal celebration he made.
Anelka was banned for five matches by the Football Association, along with receiving a fine and being asked to attend an educational course. He was subsequently suspended indefinitely by his club—an additional sanction that is likely to mean he never represents the Baggies again.
Nicolas Anelka’s brief career with West Bromwich Albion was effectively ended yesterday when he was exiled by the club after receiving a five-match ban for making the quenelle gesture.
The club suspended the 34-year-old former France striker—who was found guilty by the FA disciplinary panel and also fined £80,000 for a gesture that was deemed anti-Semitic—and asked him not to report for training or matches pending his decision to appeal and their own disciplinary investigation.
It could lead to West Brom terminating his contract before their remaining 11 games of the season are completed. Anelka, who joined the club in the summer, has missed the past month with a calf injury.
Rodgers Dismisses Reports of Reina Return to Liverpool
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has dismissed suggestions Pepe Reina could return to the first-team squad at Anfield following the completion of his current Napoli loan.
The paper quotes Rodgers as saying:
He's already written his letter, hasn't he? He wrote a goodbye letter, didn't he?
I was surprised at the letter—when you are a loan player I would expect that he should come back, but obviously Pepe made it very clear when he went to Napoli that he was looking to move.
He penned a great, big letter saying he was going to work with the best manager that he'd worked with and thanked for his time for Liverpool. So, for me, it probably sounded like he'd made his decision there.
However, Rodgers denied recent reports that Daniel Agger could leave in the summer.
Bits and Pieces: Forster in Demand, De Jong Staying Put
Celtic & England goalkeeper Fraser Forster has half of Europe on his trail, according to The Sun (subscription required)—with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan all credited with an interest.
Nigel De Jong is ready to snub interest from Premier League sides in order to extend his stay at AC Milan, according to Nick Lustig of the Daily Star. Liverpool are mentioned as one of the clubs who had been tracking De Jong.
The Sun's Shaun Custis (subscription required) reports that Steven N'Zonzi wants to leave Stoke City in the summer.
Inter Milan are sniffing around Tottenham's Etienne Capoue, according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror.