Paper Gossip: Arsenal Eye Lukaku, Rodgers Deal Wrangle, Utd Want Cavani and More
Sunday mornings have always offered up their fair share of transfer speculation and this weekend's papers have not disappointed.
As well as the transfer speculation, there’s plenty of focus on the huge Premier League game between Liverpool and Manchester City.
All this and more feature in Sunday’s edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
Arsenal Enter Chase for Lukaku
Arsenal’s lacklustre FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday reinforced the opinion that the Gunners require new blood.
The forward is due to return to Chelsea from his loan spell at Everton.
Shepherd’s belief is that Chelsea will sell the forward in the summer, and that the interest of Arsenal could well see the price spiral towards £40 million.
Shepherd's piece on Lukaku is at odds with a Sun (Subscription) report which claims Manchester City want the forward.
Lamela Heading for Spurs Exit
Shepherd often covers plenty of ground in his Football Grapevine column, and he backs up his Lukaku story with claims that Erik Lamela will be bombed out by Tottenham Hotspur in the summer.
The winger has cut little ice since joining Spurs last summer, and he is not expected to play again this term because of injury.
Shepherd suggests Lamela has played his last game for Spurs, as he believes the player will be heading back to Italy.
A return to Roma is on the cards, per Shepherd, who also states Juventus could make a bid.
Either way, the Mail writer says Spurs will have to take a substantial hit on the £30 million they paid for Lamela.
Disciplined Gerrard a Surprise for Hamann
The big game on Sunday sees title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City lock horns at Anfield.
Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann is well placed to comment on the two sides, as he featured for Liverpool and City in his career.
Hamann played in the same team as current Reds captain Steven Gerrard, and he’s expressed surprise at how well the player has adapted to his new role in the club’s midfield.
Writing in his column in the Mail, Hamann said:
I played with Steven Gerrard for seven years and never did I expect to see him end up in my position, as a holding midfielder. He just wasn’t the most disciplined—and that position is all about being disciplined and giving the team balance. Often when you were playing with Steven you would think: ‘Where’s he going? What’s he doing there?’ A couple of minutes later he would be beating someone down the wing to set up a goal.
So I had my reservations when Brendan Rodgers started playing him in the more defensive role. He’s been a revelation partly because he’s older now and understands the position. But also because he probably feels he can trust the players in front of him.
Looking ahead to the game, Hamann believes the contest will be won and lost in the midfield.
Manuel’s Pellegrini’s selection could be decisive. If they do start with Fernandinho and Toure in midfield, with Samir Nasri, Silva and Jesus Navas in front, Liverpool will expose them.
If Pellegrini does go with Toure and Fernandinho together in midfield, I would make Liverpool favourites—and as such, favourites finally to end the 24-year wait to win the title. But if he goes more defensive with Garcia, it’s easy to see to City getting a result.
Chelsea and Atletico to Meet over Courtois
The Thibaut Courtois contract clause affair continues to rumble on, with the Mail’s Rob Draper suggesting Chelsea and Atletico Madrid officials will meet to try and find common ground.
It emerged last week, prior to the two sides being drawn together in the Champions League, that Courtois had a clause inserted in his loan deal that required Atletico to pay Chelsea if the teams were drawn together in Europe.
UEFA have taken a dim view of the affair and made it clear Chelsea would be in breach of the governing body’s rules if they moved to enforce the clause.
Atletico would appear to be in the driving seat, but it’s never that simple.
Draper points out that Atletico want to keep Courtois on loan for another season, and that Chelsea are interested in Diego Costa.
It does seem likely that Courtois will face his parent club, but the meeting Draper has revealed could be interesting viewing.
Gambling Footballers in the Firing Line
Gambling in football has been in focus in recent days, and the Mail’s Nick Harris suggests 3,000 players could be in the firing line if the Football Association’s blanket ban comes into force.
The governing body are looking to press on with a proposal to ban players from taking part in any gambling on football.
As things stand, players can bet on football provided it is not on a tournament or league they are involved in.
Harris cites research by the Professional Footballers’ Association which suggests one in three players gamble on football—which equates to roughly 3,000 players potentially facing sanctions.
Pressure Mounts as Fans Call for Pardew's Newcastle Exit
The pressure continues to mount on Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.
His side slipped to a fourth successive defeat at Stoke City on Saturday and during the game sections of the Magpies fans unfurled banners calling for the manager’s head.
Tom Sheen of the Mail picked up on the banners, which read "No more lies or excuses. Pardew out” and “Pardew is a muppet.”
Ba Eyes PSG Move
Demba Ba has confirmed his desire to leave Chelsea and has set his sights on a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Ba fired Chelsea past PSG with a late goal in the Champions League this week. That goal has put him in the spotlight, and he’s used it to confirm he wants out of Stamford Bridge because of a lack of playing time.
The People's Steve Goodman has the quotes:
I’m looking to leave Chelsea. I want to play the full 90 minutes, get the maximum number of games and enjoy myself. I’ve not done that very much this season, and I doubt things will change for me here.
I could well imagine myself at PSG. That is even though they have taken on a new dimension, and seem to be looking for international stars in the £50 million bracket rather than steady performers costing £10m.
But if PSG are looking for someone to play alongside Zlatan, then I’m their man.
Rodgers Wants Bigger Say on Liverpool Transfers
Brendan Rodgers has put himself in a strong position with Liverpool pushing for a title, and he is seemingly going to be aggressive in his contract negotiations.
Money may well be on the agenda, but Simon Mullock of the Mirror claims it is control over transfers that Rodgers wants.
Mullock claims that when Rodgers sits down to discuss his future with the club, he will demand a greater say on player recruitment.
In his piece, Mullock wrote:
Liverpool’s transfer business is currently done by committee. Rodgers works in tandem with chief executive Ian Ayre, head of recruitment Dave Fallows and Michael Edwards.
But owners Fenway Sports will have to change their US recruitment model if they want to keep Rodgers, 41, happy.
United in the Hunt for Cavani
Manchester United are likely to be major players in the summer transfer window, and the Star’s Paul Hetherington says Edinson Cavani is in their sights.
The Uruguay forward will not come cheap, with Hetherington suggesting it could take £50 million to lure him away from the French capital.
Hetherington claims that United will look to smooth through any deal by offering cash plus Portugal winger Nani in a bid to tempt PSG into a sale.
Cavani is not the only PSG player United are interested in, according to Hetherington, who claims Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi are also on the Red Devils’ radar.
A player Manchester United are unlikely to get their hands on, per Anthony Chapman of the Express, is Koke, who claims he has no desire to leave Atletico Madrid.
Bits and Pieces: Saints Eye Fabianski, Arsenal's Inter Milan Battle and More
Newcastle United are readying a bid for Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong, according to Steve Bates of the People.
Inter Milan are ready to rival Arsenal in the race to sign Rodrigo Moreno from Benfica, per a report from Alan Nixon of the People.
Southampton are in the hunt for Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski, according to Dean Jones of the People.
Arsenal are planning for life without Bacary Sagna, according to Tony Stenson of the Star, and they are looking at Toulouse defender Serge Aurier as a new full-back.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will axe striker Olivier Giroud in the summer, per a report from the Charlie Wyett of the Sun (Subscription).