Paper Gossip: Balotelli Boost for Arsenal, Man Utd Set Van Gaal High Targets
Sunday's sports sections are filled with reports and rumours at the top of the Premier League, with column inches filled with plenty of speculation about summer transfer moves.
One outlet believes there has been good news for Arsenal and Tottenham in the pursuit of a certain Italian striker, while Chelsea could raid the same country for a midfielder to boost their pursuit of silverware next term.
On the subject of silverware, the Sunday Telegraph reports on some high expectations for the next Manchester United manager, whoever he may be.
For all those stories, and many more, click on.
Arsenal and Tottenham Alerted After AC Milan "Give Up" on Mario Balotelli
Arsenal and Tottenham are increasingly confident of Mario Balotelli's availability in the summer, according to Ben Jefferson of the Sunday Express.
Balotelli is in focus once again in Italy following an argument with journalists on Friday, during which he suggested they know nothing about football. The spat led to reports in Italy that the club's hierarchy have finally "given up" on Balotelli, with the player also reportedly considering a return to England in the summer.
Balotelli clashed with journalists after being substituted during Milan's 2-0 loss to Roma on Friday night.
And reports in Italy suggest that the outburst is the final straw for the Milan hierarchy.
The 23-year-old later took to Twitter to express his disbelief at the way he 'divides' Italy.
He said: "Mamma mia, I divide Italy in two! Amazing! While almost everyone overseas is united with me! What a strange game."
Indeed, Balotelli may feel that a move back to England where people are more appreciative of his abilities could be a good option at the end of the season.
It now remains to be seen whether Arsenal—whose new shirt deal with Puma could prove helpful—and Tottenham are willing to take a chance of the occasionally volatile striker in the summer.
Chelsea Pinpoint Arturo Vidal as a Top Summer Target
Chelsea have identified Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal as a top target in the summer, according to Dave Kidd of the Sunday People.
The paper reckons Vidal's all-round qualities are exactly what Jose Mourinho is looking for in the summer, and that the Chilean will be affordable as long as the Portuguese can manage to offload one or two fringe members of his squad.
Chelsea are plotting a £20 million summer swoop for Juventus’ Arturo Vidal.
Jose Mourinho’s scouts have been keenly watching the Chile star, who is an all-round box-to-box player and is seen as a potential replacement for the Blues' long-serving Frank Lampard.
Vidal, 26, is believed to fancy a move away from the Serie A leaders this summer. And with Juve expressing an interest in Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Ramires, a swap deal could even be struck.
Ramires may be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
After the re-signing of Nemanja Matic in January, Mourinho is keen to recruit another central midfield player this summer.
Manchester United Demand Moyes Replacement Wins Title in First Year
The new Manchester United manager will be expected to deliver the Premier League in his first season in charge, claims the Sunday Telegraph.
Louis van Gaal is widely expected to take over at Old Trafford in the summer, but regardless of the identity of the new man the United board will expect the Red Devils to return to their former place atop the pack in England.
Jason Burt writes:
Manchester United will set their new manager the immediate target of winning the Premier League next season, in the wake of David Moyes’s disastrous tenure.
With sources close to Louis van Gaal insisting on Saturday night that the Holland coach had agreed to take over at Old Trafford—but had not yet signed a deal—the United hierarchy will press ahead with spending up to £200million this summer.
Senior sources told The Sunday Telegraph that whoever took over would be expected to deliver the title in their first campaign.
Ryan Giggs remains a candidate to take the job vacated by David Moyes on a permanent basis, although Burt indicates he is not currently in the board's thoughts despite overseeing Saturday's 4-0 win over Norwich.
However United have already ruled out appointing Giggs with sources saying that although they might be willing to compromise on some of the criteria they would demand a “minimum level of experience” and the 40-year-old does not have that, although that resolve could be tested should they finish the season strongly.
United would like him in particular, or another former player, to be involved in the new set-up to provide a “thread of continuity” with the past.
United are publicly and privately denying any agreement has been reached with Van Gaal, who will leave his current post after the World Cup, and has held talks with Tottenham Hotspur.
United intend to draw up a shortlist of candidates, but Van Gaal’s ready availability, plus his stature in the game, makes him an attractive option and informal talks have taken place.
Suarez and Skrtel in Training Ground Spat Ahead of Chelsea Match
The paper claims that Suarez was driven to confront Skrtel after the defender cheated during a game of "head tennis", with the two players being separated by team-mates.
The paper reports:
Star striker Luis Suarez and defender Martin Skrtel appeared to come to blows over a heated game of head tennis.
The spat shocked and divided players before teammates stepped in to separate the pair.
The squad was laughing and joking around, but Suarez could not see the funny side with the Uruguayan seemingly taking offence to Skrtel's approach.
Pictures of the alleged incident are also provided, although they do not provide any firm evidence that the confrontation was anything more serious than a quick flashpoint between competitive professionals.
Bits and Pieces: Loic Remy and David Moyes in Hot Demand
Arsenal continue to monitor Loic Remy's situation as the on-loan Newcastle forward plots his future away from parent club QPR, reports Jamie Sanderson of Metro. The Sunday Times' Jonathan Northcroft (subscription required) reckon Liverpool and Manchester United are also lingering.
Everton are to double Seamus Coleman's contract in order to keep him at the club, claims Alan Nixon of the Sunday People, and they have also joined the race for summer free agent Jack Colback.
The Sunday Express' Neil Fissler reports that Tottenham and Liverpool have joined the hunt for Southampton duo Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.
Lee Ryder of the Newcastle Chronicle reports that Newcastle could re-sign Demba Ba in the summer, after the striker was told he can leave Chelsea.
Tim Sherwood is in the frame for the West Brom job, should Pepe Mel leave the club in the summer, per the Sunday Mirror.
The Mail on Sunday reckons Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has lined up Benito Carbone to replace Brian McDermott as the club's boss.
Meanwhile, David Moyes has already received tentative interest in his services from clubs in England, Germany, Spain and Turkey—and could return to management very shortly, per the Sunday Express.