Paper Gossip: Courtois Confusion, Cazorla Warns Arsenal, Hazard Upbeat and More
The Champions League quarter-finals concluded on Wednesday, with Manchester United falling to Bayern Munich.
The Premier League champions may have fallen, but the general feeling was that they bowed out with their heads held high.
Chelsea fly the flag for the Premier League, and they are in the news with talk about one of their loan stars.
All this and more features in the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
United Display Green Shoots of Recovery
Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League and will now have to adjust to a season outside of Europe’s elite competition, but there were green shoots of recovery according to Martin Keown.
United ultimately felt the force of Bayern, who bounced back from conceding a stunning goal from Patrice Evra to score three times for a 4-2 aggregate win.
While United could not match Bayern in the end, Keown felt it was as good as they have played under Moyes.
Writing in his column in the Mail, Keown said:
It was more like the United of old, and for the first 60 minutes as good a performance as any this season given the calibre of opponent they were up against.
This was the all-conquering Bayern Munich. Maybe United do not need the massive overhaul that has been suggested. They looked a good side. It was a brave fight.
Courtois Clause Could Hurt Atleti
Atletico Madrid powered past Barcelona to book their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League, but there was a sting in the tail.
Thibaut Courtois was solid once again. In truth, the keeper always is. He is a key figure for Atletico, but he may be forced to sit on the sidelines for the semi-finals—if Atleti draw Chelsea.
Courtois is on loan at Atleti from Chelsea and although UEFA rules allow players to face their parent clubs, it appears there is clause in the Belgian’s contract.
The Mail’s Oliver Todd has picked up on an interview Atleti president Enrique Cerezo gave to Spanish radio station Onda Cero: “If we draw Chelsea, Courtois won't play. It is a figure we cannot pay."
Bale on Brink of Mega Deal
Gareth Bale is one of the world’s elite players, and he’s set to join the elite list of money earners.
Charles Sale of the Mail claims Bale is on the brink of putting his name to a “£20 million, six-year extension to his Adidas contract that will cover his boots and personal sponsorship.”
Sale suggests Adidas, who have had Bale on their books since he was 16, were reluctant to hand him a mega-deal while he was outside of the Champions League. But the move to Real Madrid has smoothed that over.
Cazorla Fires Warning to Arsenal
It’s all gone wrong for Arsenal in recent weeks, and midfielder Santi Cazorla has put the boot in as well.
The midfielder is one of the club’s most potent creative forces, but he’s frustrated with how the season has gone and has suggested the Gunners are lacking a “winning mentality.”
The Mail’s Sami Mokbel has picked up on an interview Cazorla gave to Sport 360, in which he called on the club to make a big push in the transfer market:
Arsenal has everything to win. History, infrastructure, an incredible stadium and great players.
But we have to improve and sign the best players because if you don’t do that, you may lag behind.
Arsenal know what they need next season, but it’s almost impossible to win a title if we haven’t got these kinds of things.
Casillas on Arsenal's Radar
The Mail have eked out plenty of material from Cazorla’s interview with Sport 360, as they have a splash which claims Arsenal are interested in Real Madrid great Iker Casillas.
Wojciech Szczesny has been a largely consistent figure for Arsenal this season, but Cazorla has suggested manager Arsene Wenger is looking at new recruits—Casillas being one of them.
The Mail’s Matthew Morlidge has the quotes:
I've told him [I would like him to join Arsenal], but so far he has just been curious about my experience in England.
His situation is very complicated, but he has to make a decision.
Lots of clubs want him, including Arsenal, but I think that it would be very difficult to leave Real Madrid because of what the club represents.
He knows what he has [at Madrid] and what he could find at another club.
Hazard Shows Sensible Side with Injury
Hazard limped out of the Chelsea’s clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday with a calf problem.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho suggested the winger could be out for a few weeks, but Hazard’s preventative strike may work in Chelsea’s favour.
“I already felt some pain in my calf during the warming-up," Hazard said. "I didn't want to take a risk.”
Shepherd Hints at Newcastle Return
Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd is not ruling out a return to the club if Mike Ashley opts to sell the Magpies.
Ashley has been in charge of Newcastle since buying out Shepherd and Sir John Hall in 2007.
The Sports Direct supremo has since bought an interest in Scottish giants Rangers and Shepherd is lurking in the background should he opt to walk away from Newcastle.
The Mirror’s Jason Mellor has the quotes: “It’d be silly to say ‘never again.’ Who knows what’s going to happen? Nothing surprises me.”
Tottenham in Race Against Time to Land Van Gaal
The clock is ticking for Tottenham Hotspur to thrash out a deal with Louis van Gaal, per a report from the Telegraph’s Matt Law (subscription).
Tim Sherwood is still in charge at White Hart Lane, but there are doubts about his long-term future at the club.
Law claims Sherwood is “resigned to being replaced at the end of the season.”
Van Gaal is firmly in the frame to replace him, but Law suggests a deal must be done by May 7.
After that point, according to Law, van Gaal will put talk of his future on hold to focus on his current job as Netherlands coach and prepare the squad for the World Cup finals.
Bits and Pieces: United Eye Arias, Rodriguez on United's Radar and More
The Football Association has blocked Hull City’s bid to change their name, and owner Assem Allam is ready to take the governing body to court, according to John Edwards of the Mail.
Southampton midfielder Gaston Ramirez wants to join AC Milan, per a report from Alex Crook of the Mirror.
Arsenal will monitor the injury progress of Southampton's Jay Rodriguez after casting eyes at him, per a report from the Star's Adrian Kajumba.
Arsenal and AC Milan are on the tail of Rubin Kazan forward Sardar Azmoun, per a report from the Star’s Gary Jones.
Manchester United are casting eyes over PSV Eindhoven defender Santiago Arias, per a report from Vic Holly of the Sun (subscription).