Chelsea draw up Walcott deal, as Arsenal eye teenage striker
Gunners could miss out on Lazar Markovich, but M'Baye Niang could be back on the market
THE QUEUE of suitors, or vultures depending on your point of view, outside the Emirates waiting for Theo Walcott to jump ship appears to be growing. And the latest club said to be sniffing around the wannabe striker is Chelsea.
Clubcall suggests that the Blues are busy writing up a pre-contract agreement that they will present to Walcott in the January transfer window, even though he can only sign such a deal with a foreign club, ahead of a lucrative move to Stamford Bridge next summer.
Arsenal are keen to hold on to Walcott, who is about the only player at the Emirates showing any sort of form at the moment, but with Chelsea now lined up alongside Liverpool and Juventus it could be hard for the Gunners to persuade the 23-year-old that his future lies with them.
Having missed out on three points against Schalke last night – the Champions League match ended 2-2 - Arsenal are also likely to miss out in the race to sign 18-year-old Lazar Markovic.
Described by Talksport as a "Serbian starlet", the Partizan Belgrade playmaker has been in scintillating form this season and is rumoured to be on his way out of the Balkans in the New Year.
At one stage the Gunners had been the front runners to sign Markovic – beating off competition from the likes of Roma and Sevilla – but that was before their form fizzled out like a damp sparkler on bonfire night.
Now Talksport reports that Inter Milan are ready to "trump" Arsenal with the Italian giants apparently preparing a big money offer the moment the January transfer window opens. Markovic reportedly impressed Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni when the two sides met in a Europa League match last month, and he'll sound out Partizan about a New Year transfer when the clubs clash again tomorrow night in the return leg.
But while Markovic disappears over horizon a former transfer target hoves back into view. In the summer Arsenal were poised to sign young French starlet M'Baye Niang, they even had him on trial at the Emirates, but in the end the 17-year-old striker opted to join AC Milan instead.
However things have not gone smoothly at the San Siro and the teenage striker could be back on the market in January, according to Talksport. He signed a three-year contract in the summer, but has only featured in one Serie A game so far and Milan are said to be uimpressed with their new acquisition.
Still with the Gunners and Italian rag Gazzetta dello Sport says that both they and Liverpool have as much chance of signing Fernando Llorente as Andre Santos has of appearing in Arsenal's 2013 calendar. The Athletic Bilbao frontman is out of contract at the end of the season and pair of Premier League clubs have both been linked to the Spanish striker in recent months.
But now Juventus have appeared on the scene and Gazzetta dello Sport claims they're in pole position to snap up the 27-year-old for a bargain price of just £5m. It's reported that the Old Lady of Turin is in "advanced negotiations" with Bilbao and a deal is looking ever more likely for January.
The Evening Standard says Queens Park Rangers won't be splashing the cash in the New Year in a bid to buy themselves out of trouble. Rangers have been stuck in the relegation zone since day one of the Premier League but chairman Tony Fernandes is adamant they won't be going on a shopping spree in January in an attempt to avoid the drop in May.
"We've got a good enough squad," Fernandes is quoted as saying. "There may be one or two [signings] but it will be a little bit of business rather than a massive amount."
In other news, Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy has admitted the chances of him joining Newcastle in January are slim. In an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe, the 26-year-old France international admitted he had hoped to make the move to St James' Park last summer after being sold the joys of Tyneside by former Lille team-mate Yohan Cabaye.
"The President [Michel Seydou] did not want me to go to Newcastle but yes, I was disappointed," Debuchy told L'Equipe. Pressed on whether he could head north to the Magpies in a few weeks, Debuchy replied: "That episode is past now and I'm 200 per cent committed to Lille."