Do new-look Arsenal still need Sagna and Djourou?
Defenders linked with Emirates exits, but Mannone won't leave just yet
ARSENAL may have started the season with what looked like a makeshift back four, but impressive performances from players like Carl Jenkinson and Per Mertesacker under the tutelage of Steve Bould have not gone unnoticed on the continent and could lead to some changes at the Emirates.
The form of Jenkinson, a laughing stock last season, has been a revelation and could lead to the departure of Bacary Sagna, according to the Metro. The Frenchman is on the comeback trail after breaking his leg last season, but is by no means assured of a place in the Gunners starting line up.
He also expressed some dissatisfaction with life at the Emirates over the summer, and was deeply unimpressed by the sale of Robin van Persie. That has alerted Inter Milan who may try and move for the French defender at the end of the season.
Another Arsenal defender whose time may be up is Johan Djourou, who has slipped well down the pecking order at the Emirates and has made only one appearance so far this season, in the Capital One Cup. The Swiss centre-back has also been warned by his international boss Ottmar Hitzfeld that he needs game time if he wants to stay in his thoughts and he could now be set to join Roma in the new year, according to Talksport.
Goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who has impressed as deputy to the injured Wojciech Szczesny so far this season, is also thinking of a move to Europe, but not in the forseeable future. The Italian stopper told Corriere della Sera that he had his heart set on playing in Serie A, possibly for AC Milan, one day. But he added that he wanted to make a fist of things at Arsenal first, which is good news for anyone who has seen Lucas Fabianski in action.
Chelsea stars Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole have been told they won't be offered long-term contracts when their currents deals expire next year. According to The Sun, the England duo will be given an ultimatum by the Blues – sign a one-year deal or take a hike.
The paper quotes a Chelsea insider as saying: "Frank and Ashley are still very important to Chelsea but if they stay it will only be on the club's terms."
Lampard, 34, has been linked to both LA Galaxy and the Chinese Super League in recent weeks, while the 31-year-old Cole has been linked to Twatgate.
It's believed that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was less than impressed with the defender's Twitter tirade against the FA last week and that's hardened his stance when it comes to contract negotiations. The Sun says, however, that Cole is against the idea of signing on for just one year and a showdown is looming.
Meanwhile Talksport reports that Chelsea are ready to "renew their interest" in Marseille frontman Loic Remy the minute the clock passes midnight on 1 January.
The French international first came to the attention of the Blues during the summer and despite speculation that a bid would be made none was forthcoming. But it appears the 25-year-old is back on Chelsea's radar after manager Roberto di Matteo came to the conclusion that his front line needs strengthening.
Though Fernando Torres has been in the goals this season, RDM sees Remy as an ideal foil for the Spaniard and Talksport report that Chelsea scouts have been spotted in Marseille. It's believed that Marseille will sell Remy in the New Year but only if Chelsea meet their £15m asking price.
Italian paper Tutto Mercato claims that Liverpool are poised to make a swoop for Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez. The 23-year-old joined Barca from Udinese in the summer of 2011 and has so far struggled to set the Camp Nou alight.
Tito Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola as Barcelona boss in the summer, is said to be open to the move as he believes Sanchez doesn't possess the necessary skill set. The Chilean international could be moved on to Anfield to join fellow South American Luis Suarez, though it's reported Barcelona would expect to receive £29m for his services.
Finally, the Evening Standard reports that Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas "has been promised funds" to further strengthen his Tottenham squad in January's transfer window. The paper reports that the Spurs board is delighted with how the team is performing (they currently lie fifth in the Premier League) and believe that a Champions League spot for next season is within their grasp.
To that end, claims the Standard, Villas-Boas will be given the keys to a war chest in the New Year. It's believed Brazilian striker Willian is top of the Lilywhites' wishlist. Tottenham first made an approach to Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer but were told to forget about the South American frontman.
The Standard says that Spurs will make a new and improved bid for Willian, as well as doing their utmost to sign Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen from Ajax. However it's said that Villas-Boas can forget about signing Joao Moutinho as the Portuguese midfielder has no intention of leaving Porto.