Arsenal rekindle interest in Gourcuff, bye-bye to Balotelli?
Financial problems at Lyon could help Arsene Wenger, who's been keeping tabs on Gourcoff
IS THE Lyon midfielder Yoann Gourcuff the bravest man in football or has the Metro got its facts wrong? The paper claims that the 26-year-old Frenchman "could sign" for Arsenal in January although one has to wonder why any footballer would want to join the Gunners after the start they have had to the season – unless it's to laugh at Andre Santos in training.
According to the Metro, Arsenal are poised to swoop for Gourcoff after failing in their attempt to sign him last season. It's reported that Arsene Wenger is a fan of Gourcuff's and has "tracked" his compatriot for the past two years.
While Arsenal and Lyon couldn't agree on a fee for the attacking midfielder last year, it's believed the French outfit could be more amenable in the wake of financial problems.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was quoted recently as saying: "We're planning to sell two or three players for a total of €30m." Asked if Gourcuff was included in the list, Aulas replied: "If he returns to the highest level and he wants to go, then there could be a transfer."
Then again, even if he doesn't return to the highest level Arsenal could still be interested as Wenger continues to steer the club towards mid-table mediocrity.
Meanwhile, could we be about bid farewell to Mario Balotelli, Manchester City's combustible and no longer reliable striker? The Daily Mail reports that AC Milan have "subtly" reopened their pursuit of the Italian after his latest spat with Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli, who has yet to score a league goal this season, was obviously unhappy after being hauled off against West Ham on Saturday, and Mancini failed to pour oil on troubled waters when he said that he was taken off because he had missed an easy chance.
Now, according to the Mail, AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has expressed his "profound love" for the stroppy centre forward, but admitted "many loves in life don't always end well".
Balotelli used to play for AC Miilan's city rivals Inter, but he has previously described himself as an fan of Rossoneri and after leaving Inter under a cloud he would have no issues turning out for Milan.
But if City were hoping to swap Balotelli for Milan striker Stephen El Shaarawy, Galliani has warned them off, insisting that the young star, whose haircut is even more eyecatching than Balotelli's would not be moving anywhere.
In other news, the Daily Star says that if Chelsea are serious about getting their hands on Radamel Falcao then they'll first have to "offer Fernando Torres back to Atletico Madrid".
It's little secret that the Blues are tailing the £45m-rated Falcao but the Star has it on good authority that Atletico have told them they'll only sell if they get Torres.
The 28-year-old Spanish striker rose to prominence with the club before achieving fame with Liverpool before his £50m move to Chelsea. Since arriving at the Bridge last year Torres has failed to fire, but that doesn't appear of much concern to Atletico. If Chelsea agree to their offer, as seems likely, the sensational switch could happen as early as January.
The Mirror reports that Roberto Mancini will this week ask the Manchester City board to bankroll a move for "Brazilian sensation" Neymar. With the Sky Blues' season in danger of disintegrating, Mancini will ask the board to free up £50m in order to sign the sizzling Santos striker.
The 20-year-old is regarded as one of the hottest properties in the game and Mancini is desperate to sign him before the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid come calling. The Italian gaffer could be helped in that regard by the imminent arrival of Txiki Begiristain, City's "new recruitment supremo". Begiristain already knows Neymar and that could prove crucial in persuading the youngster to forsake Spain for a move to City.
Finally, the Daily Mail reports that Spurs and Newcastle have been told they'll have to "break the bank" if they want to snap up Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld. The 23-year-old has come up through the Dutch club's youth set-up and is highly thought of in Amsterdam. To that end Ajax have slapped a serious price tag on Alderweireld in the hope of deterring the likes of the Lilywhites or the Magpies.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer is quietly confident of holding on to Alderweireld, despite the interest of Tottenham who would like to pair him with former Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen. Asked about Alderweireld's future, de Boer replied: "That's maybe something for next year. I think he'll end this season at Ajax."