Arsenal on alert after Llorente row, Everton in for Arshavin?
Spaniard on the way out of Bilbao after training ground bust-up, strange rumours in Liverpool
NEWS of another training ground bust-up in Bilbao has got tongues wagging across Europe and gossips are suddenly suggesting that the latest row between Fernando Llorente and his coach Marcelo Bielsa in Spain could be good news for Arsenal.
The player was ordered off the pitch in training this week and the latest spat appears to have made his departure in the January transfer window almost inevitable.
CaughtOffside explains that the 27-year-old hitman has long been admired by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and is in the final year of his contract at Bilbao, so could leave on a free next summer. It also points out that Olivier Giroud has not made the most convincing start to his Arsenal career and suggests that Arsenal may therefore try to land Llorente for a knock-down price in January.
But before fans start dreaming of Llorente playing alongside Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, it seems Llorente could have more than one suitor. The Daily Mail is rarely one to dampen speculation about English clubs, but even it concedes that Arsenal, as well as Chelsea and Manchester City, are second favourites behind Juventus in the race to sign the Spaniard.
The paper reports that Llorente has "verbally agreed" to join the Old Lady of Turin and can expect to be paid around £200,000 a week. If Arsenal were prepared to pay that sort of wage they would still have Robin Van Persie in the team.
Having vowed to stay and fight for his place in the Arsenal side this season, Andrey Arshavin may find matters taken out of his hands if rumours from Liverpool are to be believed. Everton blog Feelin Blue suggests that David Moyes may try and get his hands on the Russian winger in January in a loan deal.
Even the blog concedes that the rumour "may sound a bit mad" but argues that Arshavin can still be a good player on his day. Some at the Emirates may disagree.
With Manchester United in danger of falling apart quicker than an American Ryder Cup team, Talksport claim that they’ve turned their attention back to Wesley Sneijder. The Red Devils have been linked to the 28-year-old playmaker for the best part of a year, but Inter Milan have managed to hold on to the Dutch international.
However Talksport says that United will attempt to finally get their hands on Sneijder in the New Year by offering the Italian club unsettled winger Nani in “a straight-swap deal”. Even though the Portuguese star scored in United’s 3-2 defeat to Spurs on Saturday, he’s become surplus to requirements at Old Trafford this season and Alex Ferguson now sees him as bait for Sneijder.
But if Fergie thinks he’s getting his hands on AC Milan’s sensational young striker Stephan El Shaarawy he can think again. Apparently the surly Scot has been tracking the 19-year-old star for months, ever since El Shaarawy moved to the San Siro from Genoa.
Since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint Germain in the summer, the teenager has been given a run in the AC Milan side and he’s responded with four goals in six starts. That’s piqued the interest of the United manager once more but in an interview with Italian TV channel Sky Sport 24, AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani laughed when asked if he feared losing El Shaarawy to United:
“Ferguson can forget about the player,” said Galliani.
Elsewhere and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has declared his intent to extend his existing contract with the Reds, despite their poor start to the season. The 32-year-old scored in Saturday’s 5-2 thrashing of Norwich, Liverpool’s first win of the season, and that’s put a spring in the Scouser’s step.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the gifted playmaker is loving life on Merseyside and believes the club is moving in the right direction. “I am contracted for another 18 months or so, and I am really happy here,” replied Gerrard when asked about his future.
“I love playing for the club, I love being the captain. It's living the dream, so to speak.” Gerrard also had warm words for new boss Brendan Rodgers and the regime he’s introduced at Anfield: “The training is good, it's a very exciting time, and hopefully I can continue to play and to contribute under the new regime.”
Finally, Sky Sports report that Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo has insisted that Frank Lampard still has a future at the Bridge. In recent weeks the veteran midfielder has been left out of Chelsea’s starting XI, fuelling speculation that the 34-year-old could accept an offer to play in America. But speaking to Sky Sports, Di Matteo said Lampard was still very much in his thoughts: "His future is very strong at this club. He's a very important player for us… He's very supportive of the team when he's not in the team. When he's in the team, he's a great performer as well.”