Arsenal will go after Llorente, Lopez and Vorm in January
Wenger draws up hit list as he admits Arsenal attack needs a new spearhead
ARSENE WENGER will dust off his chequebook in January and go hunting for a top-class striker who can act as the long-term replacement for Robin van Persie, and top of the his shopping list is Athletic Bilbao frontman Fernando Llorente.
At least that's what the Daily Mail would have you believe. It says Wenger has not yet found a proper replacement for the departed Dutchman but now accepts that he needs a new spearhead. The paper claims that Oliver Giroud was only brought as an auxilliary striker while Lucas Podolski is better suited to a wide role.
Arsenal's fabled scouting network is currently drawing up a shortlist of candidates for the role but Llorente is the name on everyone's lips. He is unhappy at his current club and as his contract expires at the end of the season, so Bilbao may let him go for a cut-price fee in January, rather than lose him for nothing in the summer.
Another player in the frame is Atletico Madrid striker Adrian Lopez, who, according to the Mail, has already been watched by Arsenal "spies".
The Gunners will also offload some dead wood in the January window and could also go after Swansea keeper Michael Vorm as back-up for Wojcich Szczesny, despite the impressive performances of Vito Mannone this season.
Talking of dead wood, defender Bacary Sagna is already being linked with a move to Inter Milan. The Metro reports that the Frenchman is being kept under surveillance by the Italian giants, although what exactly they're surveying other than some light jogging isn't made clear.
It's believed Milan will wait to see how Sagna fares when he returns from the broken leg he sustained at the end of last season. If they see no decline in Sagna's performances then the Metro claims the Serie A side could make an offer as early as January.
The rise of Carl Jenkinson this season in the Arsenal XI, in place of Sagna, has bolstered Milan's belief that the right-back could be open to a move in the New Year. A string of eye-catching displays from Jenkinson has impressed Arsene Wenger and warned Sagna that he may no longer be first choice for the Gunners.
Still with Milan – albeit AC – and Italian paper Corriere della Sera reports that Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone dreams of one day appearing between the sticks at the San Siro. Injuries this season to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski have thrust the 24-year-old Mannone into the spotlight, and the Italian shotstopper has responded with a series of solid performances.
And just what is it with Italian teams and Arsenal stars this month? For according to Talksport Roma are closing in on Johan Diourou and could offer him a route out of the Emirates in the New Year.
The 25-year-old is surplus to requirements in north London after a string of disastrous defensive displays in the past two years. Talksport claims that Roma gaffer Zdenek Zeman is "keen to add some experience to his defence" and he believes Diourou is just the man he needs. Next he'll be hiring John Terry for his diplomacy skills.
Elsewhere and calciomercato reports that Juventus have called off the hunt for Fiorentina frontman Stevan Jovetic. That will be music to the ears of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini who has also been running after the Montenegrin marksman. According to Italian reports, Juventus director Beppe Marotta has admitted defeat in the club's pursuit of the 22-year-old: "I don't think Jovetic is interested (in Juventus). We cannot keep up with the huge investments of the Spanish and English clubs."
Of course, like any quality striker in Europe, Jovetic is also said to feature on the Arsenal hit-list.
Finally, The Sun says that Edin Dzeko isn't planning on leaving the Etihad any time soon. The Bosnian striker has been a bit-part player for much of his time at Manchester City since arriving two years ago. But despite the rumours suggesting the Sky Blues are after Jovetic and Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao, Dzeko is happy to stay and fight for his place.
"Every time I see a paper, for what seems like a year or more, there is a story saying that I am leaving City, or that I want to go," said the 26-year-old Dzeko. "But I've never said that so the stories don't come from me. I've always wanted to stay at City and fight for my place. My motto has always been ‘Never give up'."