Paper Gossip: Arsenal Make Move for Smalling, Man Utd to Finally Land Fabregas?
Sunday's transfer gossip columns are dominated by stories surrounding Manchester United, with David Moyes set for a busy summer of wheeling and dealing if all the reports are to be believed.
It seems the embattled boss will receive a number of bids from other Premier League clubs for some of his squad members in the offseason—and may well use that money to finally land a player he coveted for long periods of last summer.
Elsewhere, there are reports of a couple of curious scandals hitting English football. So click on for all the latest updates...
Cesc Fabregas Pursuit Back on for Manchester United
Manchester United's hopes of signing Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona have been given a boost, with Jamie Sanderson of the Metro claiming that the Catalan club have told suitors they will listen to offers for the ex-Arsenal man in the summer.
United were unsuccessful in their attempts to sign Fabregas last summer but, following a campaign that has seen the midfielder continue to struggle to truly impose himself at his boyhood club, it seems Barcelona may now be more amenable to a deal.
The paper reports:
United made signing former Arsenal captain Fabregas their number one priority last summer, but despite making three different bids, Barca refused to sell.
The deal eventually collapsed and United have been looking elsewhere, but less than 12 months later, it could be back on with Barca said to be ready to part with the midfielder.
According to various reports in Spain, Fabregas has been told that he will be part of a squad clear out this summer—and if a suitable offer arrives he can leave.
Fabregas has failed to impress since re-joining boyhood club Barca, having found himself playing out of position on many occasions.
United are thought to value the Spain star at about £25million and could now make a new bid at the end of the season, in the hope he can fill their creative midfield void.
Arsenal to Make Audacious Bid for Manchester United's Chris Smalling
Arsenal will make a £13 million bid for Chris Smalling this summer, reports Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, with Arsene Wenger testing David Moyes' resolve to keep hold of the young defender.
The paper reports that Wenger has always been an admirer of the England international, and he is probing United's desire to keep the defender after a number of recent off-field indiscretions.
Paul Hetherington writes:
Smalling, 24, upset United boss David Moyes recently after he was pictured on a night out at 3am – when he was out of action through injury.
Posing as a suicide bomber at a fancy dress party didn’t go down well at Old Trafford, either.
Smalling was an £11m signing by previous United boss Sir Alex Ferguson four years ago.
But a return to London could now be on the cards. Smalling has not fully established himself at United and Moyes wants a new central defender this summer.
England's Top Sides to Fight It out for Antoine Griezmann
The Sunday Mirror's Steve Stammers reports that a whole host of English clubs have joined the race to sign Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad in the summer.
The newspaper claims that Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool are all interested in the France international, who would command a fee in the region of £20 million.
The paper reckons that Arsenal would be the favourites to land Griezmann's signature, but the Gunners might instead choose to sign a more conventional out-and-out striker when the time comes:
Antoine Griezmann will be the summer target for a cluster of Premier League clubs – with Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton joining Arsenal in the race for the 23-year-old French winger.
Griezmann has excelled for Real Sociedad this season and it is understood that the Spanish club will listen to offers around the £20million mark.
Paris St Germain were believed to be the favourites to sign Griezmann whose form prompted France manager Didier Deschamps to call him up for full international duty in March for the friendly match against Holland.
The strong French influence at Arsenal would be a major attraction for Griezmann but manager Arsene Wenger is likely to focus his attention on a central striker.
Tottenham Peg Danny Welbeck as Potential Summer Target
Dave Kidd of the Sunday Mirror claims that Tottenham have turned to Danny Welbeck in their pursuit of a new striker in the summer
The paper reports:
Tottenham are weighing up a £20million summer move for Danny Welbeck.
The England striker has two years left on his current deal at Manchester United and Spurs sources believe the Old Trafford club could be willing to do business.
Spurs are determined to sign a top-level striker with Premier League experience—and Welbeck is top of their list.
The White Hart Lane club are working through potential summer signings, even though they do not have a manager in place for next season, with Tim Sherwood certain to lose the role and No.1 target Louis van Gaal keeping all options open.
The north London club are also keen on Belgians Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke, but Benteke is currently out with a serious injury while the Mirror reports that Lukaku has informed interested clubs he only wants to join a side competing in the Champions League next season.
Police and Authorities Investigate Drug Scandal at English Club
Meanwhile, The Observer claims to have a major exclusive about a drugs scandal that has hit what the paper describes as a "major football club in England."
Writing about the situation at the club, Daniel Taylor reports that:
The police were called in to investigate after senior members of staff started suspecting some of their colleagues were regularly using class-A drugs inside the stadium. The allegations go to the top of the club and involve at least one high-profile figure with a considerable reputation within the sport.
On one occasion, two prominent officials were allegedly caught snorting cocaine in the boardroom of a rival club during an away fixture. Rumours of the incident have spread among other clubs in the same division. Officials of the league in question have been made aware and are treating it as a first within the sport.
However, there are people at the relevant club who are concerned it may be a more widespread problem than just the one case. At a home match, one member of the club's hierarchy became concerned when he noticed the residue of a white powder on the clothing of a colleague as he took his seat.
The club cannot be named for legal reasons but a high-ranking source has confirmed that internal inquiries began "following allegations that hard drugs were being consumed by certain people on the premises".
Expect to read more about this story in the coming weeks.
Bits and Pieces: Evra Backs Suarez, Pedro Wants Out?
Gareth Barry is keen to remain at Everton for another season if a deal that suits all parties can be agreed, according to Joe Bernstein of the Mail on Sunday.
Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has voted for Luis Suarez as his PFA Player of the Year, per Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, despite the feud between the pair after Suarez was deemed to have racially abused the Frenchman.
The Mail on Sunday's Bernstein reports that England boss Roy Hodgson has asked clubs to avoid using potential England World Cup squad members in any end of season friendlies they may have.
Barcelona winger Pedro has Manchester United and Manchester City on alert as he begins to consider his future away from the club, according to Paul Hetherington of the Sunday Star.
Everton have identified Wilfried Bony as a possible replacement for Romelu Lukaku, reports Bill Mills of the Sunday Mirror.
And finally, did Crystal Palace also know the Aston Villa side well in advance of their recent meeting? That's the claim, according to Dave Kidd of the Sunday Mirror.