Man Utd want Walcott as Nani substitute, Arsenal after Clayton
Alex Ferguson could snap up Arsenal winger cheap and even make a profit if he sells Nani
IT'S ENOUGH to make a grown Gooner cry, and we're not talking about one of Justin Timberlake's wedding songs. No, it's the news that Manchester United are zeroing in on Theo Walcott, further proof that Arsenal are nothing more than a feeder club these days.
According to Caughtoffside.com, United boss Alex Ferguson is "open to the possibility" of luring Walcott from the Emirates as a replacement for Nani.
With Walcott no longer a regular in the Gunners' squad, the website claims that the 23-year-old winger is "likely to leave the North London club" in January as he looks to resurrect his career. Ferguson believes he'll be able snap up Walcott on the cheap and even make a profit if he offloads Nani at the same time.
Though some might question Fergie's reasons for bringing Walcott to Old Trafford, Caughtoffside says the United gaffer is concerned about the long-term fitness of Ashley Young and Luis Antonio Valencia.
As for Nani, the Manchester Evening News confirms that the Portuguese wide-man is "set to quit United" after allegedly turning down the chance to sign a new deal with United. As we reported yesterday, the 25-year-old has started just five of United's 13 games this season and didn't get a run in Sunday's controversial victory over Chelsea.
According to the Evening News, Nani recently replied "God only knows what awaits me" when asked if he would remain at the club next year. Though his existing contract expires at the end of the 2013-14 season, United wouldn't want to see Nani leave on a free transfer and speculation is growing that he'll be shipped out in January.
Russian club Zenit St Petersburg remain the bookies' favourite to sign Nani, although his wage demands reportedly deterred them from making a move in the summer.
Relations between Arsenal and United may not be improved if they end up going head to head over Crewe youngster Max Clayton, as the Daily Mail predicts. Arsenal are just the latest big club to enter the race to sign the 18-year-old striker who already has 48 first team appearances under his belt.
The Gunners have sent former assistant manager Pat Rice to watch the teenager in action and could try and steal him from under the noses of United, Liverpool and Newcastle. There had been speculation that Arsenal had already agreed a deal with Crewe to sign the youngster although manager Steve Davis has rejected those claims.
He did, though, accept that Clayton was unlikely to be a Crewe player for much longer and is apparently prepared to let him go for around £3m.
Meanwhile both United and Arsenal look like they've lost out in their battle to sign Isco. The Malaga midfielder was linked with both clubs recently but Talksport reports that the 20-year-old is set to sign a new contract with the Spanish outfit – and one which will include a £32 million buy-out clause.
Isco has been the talk of the town this season after a string of stirring performances in the Champions League, and Arsenal, United and Manchester City are all believed to have sent scouts to Spain. But despite the interest Talksport says Isco will put pen to paper very soon in a deal that will result in his wages quadrupling from £6k-a-week to £23k-a-week. As for the buy-out clause, that will double as Malaga protect their prize asset.
It's been a while since the headline writers have concerned themselves with Etienne Capoue, the tough-tackling French midfielder linked to both Arsenal and Spurs over the past year. And if either north London club is still interested in the young international they will have to get their skates on as Benfica have entered the race to sign him, says Talksport, and they may be willing to pay the £17m his current club, Toulouse, are demanding for his signature.
Finally, Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is being chased by a bevy of top clubs with AC Milan the latest to join the hunt for the 29-year-old Dutch ace. Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea have all been linked to Huntelaar, who scored in last week's 2-0 defeat of Arsenal in the Champions League.
Talksport says Huntelaar is out of contract at the end of the season and Schalke are considering selling him in January while he's in a rich vein of form. Milan are desperate to bolster their strike force having failed adequately to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer, but Chelsea's financial muscle might win the day.