Arsenal eye Igor Denisov, but what about Aron Johannsson?
Zenit St Petersburg player is unsettled after pay row. Does Icelandic striker's agent protest too much?
THREE of the Premier League's finest - plus Liverpool - are said to be squaring up for a showdown after Igor Denisov was demoted into Zenit St Petersburg's youth team.
According to Talksport, the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool "could be set to fight it out" for the captain of the Russian national team after he was punished for allegedly criticising the club's wage structure.
Talksport claims that the midfield maestro had spoken out about the astronomical wages being paid to new signings Hulk and Axel Witsel, saying they were three times the rest of the squad's. In an interview with Russian rag Sport-Express, Denisov let rip with a fury not seen since Andrew Mitchell last pushed his bike out of Downing Street. "I could understand it if we signed Messi or Iniesta, who are worth any price," he stormed. "Are they so much better than others to earn a salary three times better?"
As a result of the bust-up, Talksport reports that the four English clubs are "exploring the situation" with one or more tipped to make a move for the 28-year-old playmaker in the New Year.
Young Icelandic striker Aron Johannsson might want to consider getting himself a new agent, after his current Mr Ten Per Cent took time out of his busy schedule to deny that Arsenal were interested in the 21-year-old, who currently plays in Denmark for AGF.
Sky Sports reports that Magnus Agnar Magnusson has played down reports linking hotshot Johannsson, who has ten goals in ten games this season and last month scored a hat-trick in under four minutes, to the Gunners.
The youngster's contract runs out next summer and he could then move on a free, but his agent insisted that he would be happy to stay in Denmark. "We have heard nothing from Arsenal and at the moment we are concentrating on extending the deal with AGF," said Magnusson.
He then appeared to prove that he is more concerned about Johannsson's career than his own wallet. "A move to England would be interesting as every player would love to play there but it would not make sense for him to sit on the bench for the next two years," he said. "Sure, he might make a lot of money but he would not develop as a player if he does not play."
However, he added that his client would still consider a move to a bigger European league if it was offered, and went out of his way to praise Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. Perhaps he knows what he is doing after all.
To other news and the Metro claims that Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has "brushed off" rumours linking him with a move to Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea. The 24-year-old Belgium star has been the talk of the Toffees in their sensational start to the new season and speculation has been rising quicker than one of Nigella Lawson's soufflés that he could soon be on his way out of Goodison Park.
Not so, says Fellaini, who's quoted in the Metro saying: "I am happy here. I play for a great club, with great players and wonderful fans. Every season I get better." But ominously for Everton fans, Fellaini did add that his ultimate aim "is to win prizes". So with Arsenal out of the equation it leaves United to slug it out with Chelsea in the New Year, once the dust has settled over Denisov.
Elsewhere and Swiss daily Blick claims that Newcastle United have their heart set on FC Basel defender Aleksander Dragovic. The 21-year-old Austrian defender, capped 14 times by his country, has been in impressive form at the back this season and the Magpies are "lining up a £5m offer for the spring-heeled youngster. They'll have to look lively, however, for Stuttgart and Fiorentina are said to be sniffing around him too.
The Evening Standard reports that Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand has urged his rival for the Chelsea left-back spot to go ahead and sign a new contract. Ashley Cole has yet to put pen to paper at the Bridge, leading some to speculate that the Blues might be happy to see the England star leave safe in the knowledge they have the up and coming Bertrand to replace him.
But the 23-year-old has declared life wouldn't be the same with Cole. "Yes, I want Ashley to stay," said Bertrand. "He has been a fantastic servant for the club and he rightly deserves what he is asking for. It doesn't affect me… I have learnt a lot from him and the longer he stays the more I will continue to learn."
Tottenham misfit Jermaine Jenas will return to where it all began if a loan deal goes through and he rejoins Nottingham Forest. The midfielder, who came through the ranks at the City Ground, has been frozen out at Spurs and almost rejoined Forest in the summer. If the deal goes through in time the former Red could be back by the banks of the Trent to take on Derby at the weekend, claims The Guardian.
Finally The Sun says Chelsea are "plotting a £45m swoop" for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. Apparently preliminary discussions have already taken place between the Blues and Atletico Madrid and the feeling at the Bridge is that a deal will be done in the New Year.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich okayed the move after watching Falcao inspire Atletico to victory over the Blues in the recent Uefa Super Cup, further proof, says The Sun, that the European champions believe they need extra firepower up front if they're to retain the trophy.