Paper News & Gossip: Doubts About Vertonghen, Van Persie Hits out at Critics
Friday's gossip columns once again do not disappoint, with a number of interesting stories about what the future holds for some high-profile Premier League players.
One of those is Robin van Persie, who has finally responded to recent suggestions that he might look to leave Manchester United in the summer. The Dutchman might be staying, but Jan Vertonghen's future at Spurs looks far less certain.
Elsewhere, there is also a report claiming that Arsenal have identified the man they eventually want to succeed Arsene Wenger—so click on for that and much more...
Arsenal Target Martinez as No. 1 Choice to Succeed Wenger?
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is Arsenal's preferred candidate to replace Arsene Wenger when the Frenchman leaves the Emirates, according to the Daily Star.
In an exclusive, the newspaper claims that there have already been discussions in the boardroom about the suitability of Martinez to fill Wenger's shoes, with the Spaniard impressing since joining Everton at the start of the season.
David Woods writes:
The Spaniard’s work at Everton this season has seen the former Swansea and Wigan manager’s stock rise even higher.
Martinez has impressed Wenger and the rest of the Gunners’ hierarchy with the style of play he demands—a cultured passing game—and by the way the 40-year-old handles himself.
Starsport understands Martinez enhanced his credentials even further with the digniﬁed way he reacted to Everton’s 4-1 FA Cup defeat at the Emirates on Saturday.
Arsenal are poised to conﬁrm Wenger has signed a new contract, expected to be for two years, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.
But it is believed discussions have already been held within the club about the suitability of Martinez as an eventual replacement.
Vertonghen Set for Summer Battle to Leave Tottenham
The London Evening Standard reports that Jan Vertonghen looks increasingly likely to leave Tottenham in the summer following the club's disappointing campaign.
Vertonghen has previously made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League but, with Spurs unlikely to qualify for the competition again this season, the Standard expects the Dutchman to try and force a move in the summer to fulfil his wishes.
Vertonghen has two years remaining on his current deal at the club, meaning Spurs have little negotiating room if they want to receive a reasonable fee for the centre-back, who has often been played out of position at left-back during his time at the club.
Tom Collomosse writes:
Jan Vertonghen's long-term future at Tottenham looks increasingly unclear as the Belgium defender considers his options for next season.
Vertonghen moved to White Hart Lane two years ago, in preference to joining Arsenal, expecting to be able to help the club qualify for the Champions League. But after missing out narrowly last term, Spurs find themselves off the pace again in the Premier League, where they are outsiders for a top-four finish.
Vertonghen, 27 next month, has two more full seasons left on his four-year contract, worth about £40,000 a week. He is almost certain to be offered a new, improved deal, possibly before the World Cup, but whether he will sign it is another matter.
Hugo Lloris has also hinted that his future might lie away from Spurs if they cannot reach the top four this season. Yet while the France goalkeeper’s attitude and performance level have remained exemplary, not everyone at Tottenham believes the same can be said of Vertonghen.
Liverpool Add Juan Iturbe to Transfer Wishlist
Liverpool are keeping tabs on Porto winger Juan Iturbe, claims Simon Jones in the Daily Mail.
The Reds have made no secret of their desire to sign a wide attacker in recent months, failing with raids for the likes of Willian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Yevhen Konoplyanka over the past two transfer windows.
Iturbe would fall into a similar bracket, the Porto player being currently on loan at Verona, where he has frequently caught the eye.
Liverpool are among clubs showing interest in Porto winger Juan Iturbe.
The 20-year-old Argentine has impressed during a loan spell at Hellas Verona which has also alerted Roma, Inter and Juventus.
Liverpool target Yevhen Konoplyanka of Dnipro has emerged as an option for Paris St Germain who held preliminary talks with intermediaries in Qatar on Monday.
Van Persie Hits Back Angrily at Critics, Wants to Stay at United
Robin van Persie has hit out at the speculation that has surrounded him in recent weeks, stating that he wants to finish his career at Manchester United and has no problem with manager David Moyes.
Rumours have been rife about Van Persie's happiness levels and long-term future at Old Trafford ever since he seemed to express dissatisfaction with the club and his manager following the Champions League defeat to Olympiakos, but the Dutchman has denied he is unhappy.
In quotes run by The Times (subscription required):
“I don’t mind if my performances get dissected and people criticise what I’ve done on the pitch,” Van Persie, 30, said. “They can talk about my game 24/7 for all I care, and a lot of those opinions and criticisms may actually be right.
“What I need to address are the situations when people are taking it upon themselves to think for me, make assumptions or interpret things as if they are me. I’m the only one who knows exactly what I’m feeling and that is not what I or the fans have been reading.
“The truth is I’m very happy here at this club. I signed for four years [from Arsenal in 2012 [for £22.5 million] and I’d be delighted to stay even longer, beyond the next two years I have left on my contract.
“I’m very happy with my team-mates and I’m very happy with my manager and his staff. The sessions we have on the training ground are fantastic and I’m learning a lot from them every day. There’s no doubt I’m learning new things and progressing with David Moyes.”
Bits and Pieces: Poyet in Demand, Fabianski Snubs Gunners U-Turn
Newcastle are to launch another bid for Montpellier's Remy Cabella in the summer, according to the Daily Star.
Three London clubs, along with Barcelona and Inter Milan, are interested in signing Charlton's 18-year-old midfielder Diego Poyet—son of Sunderland manager Gus—according to the Daily Express.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Lukasz Fabianski has snubbed a late attempt from Arsenal to keep him at the club beyond the end of the his current contract (which expires in the summer).
West Brom boss Pepe Mel has acknowledged that he could be dismissed this weekend if his side loses to Swansea, according to the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror also reports that Roma are interested in signing Newcastle full-back Mathieu Debuchy.