Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Double Serie A swoop for Arsenal?

Marek Hamsik is reportedly a target for Arsenal, but the Gunners would need to make some sales first.
Arsenal in double Serie A swoop?

Arsenal have been handed one of the choice ties in the Champions League round of 16 against Monaco, but Arsene Wenger would be wrong to think fans will still be on his side should he fail to strengthen the team this January.

It will come as a relief to the Gooners among you, then: Metro reports the French coach is after Serie A duo Mattia Destro and Marek Hamsik.

Destro, 23, is thought to be valued at 15 million pounds by Roma, though talks are reportedly already underway, with the striker repeatedly making references to his future lying away from Rome in recent months. As for Hamsik, 27, the paper reports Rafa Benitez could be tempted to let the playmaker leave Napoli for the right fee as he seeks to shuffle his pack.

Such an outlay would require Wenger to raise cash, however; Metro suggests that strike duo Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell could be sacrificed to provide the funds for an expensive winter outlay.

Man United after Belgian brothers?

While Manchester City may have the brand-spanking new 200 million-pound academy in which to develop the next generation of youngsters, it seems Manchester United are not about to be left behind -- the Daily Mail reports Louis van Gaal has earmarked Belgian brothers Indy and Seppe Boonen as potential stars at Old Trafford, and is intent on landing the pair.

Indy is the older at 15 and has reportedly already had trials at United -- he's also a left-back, which United seem short of these days. Younger sibling Seppe is a 13-year-old goalkeeper, and the duo could well sign professional terms at the club upon their 16th birthdays. Of course, Indy signing would make a deal for Seppe that much more likely.

The Mail also reports United have held off competition from City to sign Portuguese winger Venancio da Silva Monteiro, a small victory in the grand scheme of a state-of-the-art academy, it has to be said.

Regardless, the real story here, surely, is a Dutch manager targeting a Belgian youth player named Indy -- how much more of a football hipster can Van Gaal become?!

Torres sticking with AC Milan

Fernando Torres post-Liverpool is like that last scoop of ice cream -- you can't help yourself, but all you're left with is a headache and a queasy feeling. At least, that's what AC Milan's money-men are feeling as they count the cost of paying the Chelsea loanee's wages for the next 18 months while he fails to deliver.

However, the Rossoneri insist that the striker -- who has just one goal in 10 Serie A appearances this season -- will not be returning to Stamford Bridge, or depart elsewhere, for that matter, in January.

The Spain international has scored just one goal in 10 Serie A appearances for Milan and hasn't featured in their past three league games, increasing speculation that the club will look to offload him in the January transfer window.

Yet Milan club administrator Adriano Galliani told Sky Italia: "I don't think he [Torres] will leave even if the market is unpredictable. He is important and will probably return [to top form]."

"Probably" being the operative word there.

Sneijder to United -- again?!

The Mail seem to have picked up on a story circulating since, say, three years ago, as they claim Manchester United could finally be about to land Wesley Sneijder -- but wait, there's interest from Southampton as well!

Wesley Sneijder's been tipped for Man United many times ... will it happen this time around?
While you may have just spat your coffee out in derision, just remember that Louis van Gaal is known to have a strong relationship with the Netherlands midfielder.

If that alone isn't enough to convince you, the Mail suggests the Dutch technician has not been paid on time by Galatasaray a few times this year, and with a salary rumoured to be around 2.5 million pounds per year, the Turkish club may be keen to offload the 30-year-old in January -- though Ronald Koeman would surely love to get one over on his compatriot by taking Sneijder to the Saints.

Tevez staying at Juve -- for now

"There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it" -- so wrote Kate DiCamillo in "Because Of Winn-Dixie." Carlos Tevez knows he's going back to Argentina, and Juventus know he's going back to Argentina, but the Bianconerigeneral manager Beppe Marotta hasn't ruled out the striker departing just yet.

"[Tevez] is Argentinean and he loves his country and sooner or later he wants to be a star back there again, but I think that is only human nature and logical," he said. "He's certainly not going to go back to Argentina in the very near future."

Odegaard nearing Munich move

The never-ending story that is speculation over Martin Odegaard's future could be drawing to a conclusion, as Bayern Munich are confident of winning the race for the Norway starlet's signature.

The 15-year-old is wanted by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Dortmund and even NASA (not true), but Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says he believes the Bundesliga champions "have a good chance" of convincing the midfielder that his future involves Lederhosen and plenty of titles. That's "titles."

Key to the deal, it seems, could be Pep Guardiola's winning charm and his ability to turn crafty playmakers into the best in the business. Given Odegaard's potential, this could be the real start of the Bayern dynasty.


- Raphael Varane discussed a potential move to Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson before Jose Mourinho convinced him to sign for Real Madrid.

"Yes, it's true. We were close to an agreement with Manchester United. And yes, I met Sir Alex Ferguson," Varane said. "What I liked in what Jose Mourinho said to me is that he was honest." That last quote is not a joke, by the way.

- The weird and not-so-wonderful career of Ravel Morrison continues, with Cardiff City confirming on Monday that the former starlet has cut short his loan deal and returned to West Ham "due to personal circumstances."

- With Frank Lampard's magical spell at Manchester City set to end in January, Bacary Sagna has urged the New York City FC loanee to put off Major League Soccer for a while longer and stay with the Premier League champions.

"[Lampard] is a great guy and he has fitted in perfectly," the France right-back told reporters. "He showed here that he can score important goals. He has shown many times that he is a great player. As long as we have him on board, it's always good."

- Lyon have warned Arsenal and other potential suitors that 10 million euros is nowhere near enough to land the club's prodigy Nabil Fekir.

Fekir, 21, has broken into the first team this season, though club advisor Bernard Lacombe told TF1: "10 million euros would just be for the right leg. There's also the left leg. It will be a lot more expensive than that." They could probably get a decent fee by selling off the respective talented parts of Fekir.

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