Paper Gossip: Arsenal Up Sagna Stakes, Manchester United's Gundogan Blow
Saturday's newspaper gossip features a series of stories about ongoing activities at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
The reports feature some familiar names to transfer enthusiasts—with Ashley Williams, Bacary Sagna and Ilkay Gundogan all finding themselves continuing to create headlines.
Click on for all those stories and many more.
Arsenal Break with Rules to Try and Keep Bacary Sagna
Arsenal are ready to break with their own club rules in order to keep Bacary Sagna at the club beyond the summer, according to a report in the Daily Mirror.
Sagna is out of contract at the end of the season and has attracted the interest of Manchester City in recent days. The France international had been holding out for a three-year deal from his current club, who have recently made it a policy of only offering one-year extensions to players over the age of 30.
But Arsene Wenger is reportedly ready to break with that guideline and give Sagna what he wants in order to prevent his departure—especially to a Premier League rival.
Sagna, 31, is a free agent when his current deal expires this summer and has already had interest from Manchester City, Inter Milan and Galatasaray.
But Mirror Sport understands that Arsenal are determined to try and persuade Sagna to stay and have broken with club tradition to try and keep him.
Arsenal have offered Sagna a three year deal which is a major statement as up until recently Arsene Wenger has only offered only one year extensions to their 30-somethings.
But they are bending the rules for Sagna and want to reward him for his loyalty with a deal which would see him finish his career at the Emirates.
Gunners boss Wenger is hopeful Sagna will stay even though foreign clubs are free to talk to him and even offer him a pre-contract. But Wenger denied City have made him an offer.
Liverpool Eye Cut-Price Deal for Inter's Mateo Kovacic
Liverpool are weighing up a possible move for unsettled Inter Milan youngster Mateo Kovacic, according to Metro.
The paper reports that Kovacic is unhappy at the club, who are planning a wholesale reshuffle of their playing squad over the summer. That has alerted Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, who could be interested in the Croatian for a fee in the region of £8 million.
Jamie Sanderson writes:
Liverpool are ready to make an £8million summer bid for Mateo Kovacic after his agent revealed the player is unhappy at Inter Milan.
Kovacic is currently rated as one of the most promising midfielders in Europe, having established himself as a key player for Inter since his switch from Dinamo Zagreb.
But despite a string of impressive performances, the 19-year-old has been dropped in recent weeks amid claims of a fall out with manager Walter Mazzarri—and a transfer is on the cards.
Kovacic’s agent refused to confirm the talk this week, but he has revealed his client is unhappy, telling reporters: ‘Everybody is confused as to why Mateo is not playing.
‘Is there a row with Mazzarri I can’t say a lot, but he is not happy.’
Manchester United's Ilkay Gundogan Hopes Knocked by Barcelona Interest
The Daily Express claims that Manchester United's hopes of signing Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund have been hit after Barcelona stepped up their interest in the injured midfielder.
Gundogan has missed almost the entire season with a problematic back injury but remains on the radar of a number of top clubs throughout Europe due to the fact his contract with Dortmund is due to expire in the summer of 2015.
Manchester United had hoped to lure the Germany international, but Barcelona's interest would represent a sizeable obstacle.
The Express reports:
Reports in Spain suggest that [team doctor] Dr Richard Pruna was not present when Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes underwent tests on a knee injury that will end his season because he was in Germany meeting with Gundogan.
Gundogan has not played for Dortmund since August after coming down with a mysterious back injury, but is widely expected to leave Germany in the summer.
Manchester United are known to be interested in bringing the 23-year-old to Old Trafford, with some reports suggesting that Shinji Kagawa could be included in a possible swap deal in the summer.
But this latest development may mean that Barcelona are now in pole position to land the German international should all the medical issues check out.
Ashley Williams Keen for Arsenal to Revive Interest
Swansea City defender Ashley Williams is hopeful of a revived move to Arsenal this summer, according to the Daily Mail.
Williams was on the Gunners' radar last summer, but manager Arsene Wenger ultimately decided against making a move for the centre-back. However, with Thomas Vermaelen possibly set to leave the club this summer and Williams' contract up in a year, the Mail believes Wenger could return for Williams—at the right price.
Williams is keen to test himself at the next level. The paper reports:
At the age of 29, he fears time may be running out for him to join a leading club. His current deal expires at the end of next season and he will resist attempts to extend the contract.
The Wales captain came close to joining Arsenal last summer, holding two meetings with Gunners officials.
But the club’s reluctance to commit any of their transfer funds on a move for Williams prior to landing the big-money signing they had promised supporters delayed the deal.
And the fact that Mesut Ozil did not join until the final hours of transfer deadline day meant Williams’ proposed move collapsed.
Arsenal could yet revive their interest, particularly if captain Thomas Vermaelen asks to leave.
John Obi Mikel Desperate for Chelsea Exit
John Obi Mikel has decided the time has finally come to leave Chelsea after falling down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
The Daily Mirror reports that Mikel has been disappointed with his playing time in recent months, having seen January signing Nemanja Matic leap above him in Jose Mourinho's estimation, and is keen to move on in the summer.
John Cross writes:
Jon Obi Mikel is determined to quit Chelsea this summer.
Mikel, 26, has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge this season and wants more regular first team football.
Chelsea midfielder Mikel has three years left on his contract but wants to leave after getting frustrated under Jose Mourinho.
There has already been strong interest from Galatasaray but there are also likely to be Italian clubs in the chase for Mikel.
Chelsea are unlikely to allow Mikel to leave on the cheap but the player wants to go.
Bits and Pieces: Management Return for Steve Clarke?
Everton are looking at Fiorentina's youth-team prospect Giacomo Calo, according to TalkSPORT.
The Daily Star claims Hull City goalkeeper Allan McGregor could lose a kidney following a horrible clash in the game against West Ham.
Former West Brom boss Steve Clarke is a candidate for the vacant Nottingham Forest job, according to the Daily Telegraph.