Paper Gossip: Balotelli Eyes Prem, Mata Exit Talk, Robben Snubs United and More
There was the small matter of the Champions League final on Saturday, but the game going to extra time caught out the Sundays with many of the papers going to print before the result was known.
But what they missed in terms of Real Madrid's 10th European Cup triumph, they more than made up for in transfer gossip.
There's stacks of transfer gossip to get your teeth into, with some surprise names and familiar faces featuring.
All this and more feature in Sunday's edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
Balotelli in the Frame for Premier League Return
Mario Balotelli is manna from heaven for editors the world over, such is the interest he generates.
The summer transfer window is barely spluttering into life, but Balotelli is headline news.
Rob Shepherd of the Mail is reporting that the AC Milan forward is set for a “sensational Premier League return,” with Arsenal and Liverpool in the frame.
According to Shepherd, Balotelli has grown sick of the racism he faces in Italy and has come to the conclusion that life in England is much more comfortable.
Shepherd does, though, throw in a couple of caveats. He claims Arsenal are in talks with Real Madrid to sign Karim Benzema but will consider Balotelli.
There are also ifs and buts with regard to Liverpool’s interest, with Shepherd suggesting Balotelli will come on their radar if Luis Suarez is lured away from the club in the summer.
Redknapp Ready for Transfer Raid
Mail scribe Shepherd has also delved into the future of Queens Park Rangers, who are now planning for life in the Premier League following play-off glory on Saturday.
The R’s have money issues following their relegation from the top flight the previous season, but Shepherd claims manager Harry Redknapp has his eyes fixed on the transfer market.
According to Shepherd, Redknapp will raid the free-transfer area to lure the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole to Loftus Road.
United Not Interested in Cesc
Cesc Fabregas has been in the news this weekend. Just a day after the Star’s Jeremy Cross claimed the midfielder was Manchester United’s No. 1 target, the Mail’s Joe Bernstein has moved to blow that report out of the water.
Under a headline of “I want Cesc!” Cross reported that new United boss Louis van Gaal had set his sights on Fabregas.
Bernstein claims Fabregas is eager to return to the Premier League but is firm in his belief that Van Gaal will not enter the bidding for the Spain international.
Cech Ahead of Courtois in Chelsea Keeper Battle
Thibaut Courtois may have tasted defeat in the Champions League final, but he did not dent his reputation with his performance.
The focus now switches to the keeper’s future. Chelsea have yet to make a decision on whether the Belgian will return to the club or spend another season out on loan.
Alex Miller of the Mail claims to know what the decision is. He references club insisders in his piece which states Petr Cech will remain No. 1 at Stamford Bridge for one more season—before Courtois takes over in 2015/16.
Spurs in Frame for Cech
Miller’s view on the Chelsea keeper situation differs somewhat from Dave Kidd’s piece in the Mirror.
Kidd, in a piece tagged exclusive, claims Tottenham will make a move for Cech amid fears Hugo Lloris will be lured away from White Hart Lane this summer.
In his piece, Kidd wrote: “With Thibaut Courtois almost certain to return to Chelsea this summer as first-choice keeper, Cech is likely to be on his way, after an outstanding decade at Stamford Bridge.”
With such differing views, all we can say is watch this space.
Robben Snubs United
Arjen Robben is the latest player to deliver a snub to Manchester United, per a report from the Mirror’s Simon Mullock.
New manager Van Gaal is ready to make his mark in the summer transfer window, but Mullock claims he won’t be getting his hands on fellow Dutchman Arjen Robben.
In his piece, Mullock has a quote from Robben, who said: “I don’t want to join United.
"Even if United and Bayern are able to agree a deal over a transfer fee I will not move to Manchester."
Mata Set for United Exit?
Mata only joined United in January from Chelsea, but Chapman cites a report from Spanish daily AS which claims Barcelona are readying a £40 million bid.
Chapman suggests Van Gaal would be ready to cash in so he can fund bids for a host of pacy wingers.
Arsenal Take a Look at Khedira
Arsenal could raid Real Madrid for the second summer in a row, according to Steve Stammers of the Mirror.
Mesut Ozil was lured to Arsenal 12 months ago and Stammers claims Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will make a move for another Germany international in the guise of Sami Khedira.
Stammers claims Khedira could be available for a cut-price £15 million, as he has just one more season remaining on his Real contract.
Richards and Milner in Limbo at City
Manchester City’s issues with financial fair play could result in Micah Richards and James Milner staying at the club, according to the Mail.
The Mail reports that City are struggling to meet their homegrown player requirements under new financial fair play rules and will retain Richards and Milner as a consequence.
Bits and Pieces: Burnley Eye Bendtner, Newcastle Consider Sidwell and More
Fulham will demand £15 million for Patrick Roberts to ward off potential interest from Manchester United, according to Dave Kidd of the Mirror.
Nicklas Bendtner is a target for Burnley following his release from Arsenal, according to Tom Hopkinson of the Sunday People.
Tom Ince is on the brink of signing for AS Monaco rather than Inter Milan, per a report from Neil Moxley of the Sunday People.
Newcastle United are considering a move for midfielder Steve Sidwell, who is available on a free transfer following his release from Fulham, according to Clive Hetherington of the Star.