Arsenal lead Llorente chase but bookies tip Huntelaar

Dec 13, 2012
Bill Mann

Striker has fallen out with Bilbao coach and Chelsea and Spurs are also in the chase

ATHLETIC BILBAO striker Fernando Llorente has admitted he wants to taste life in the Premier League. According to the Metro, the 27-year-old Spanish international has as good as said he won't be signing on again with Bilbao when his contract expires at the end of the season. Instead he's set to give it a go in England.

In recent months Llorente has been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, although a cynic might suggest that the Gunners can be discounted unless the Spaniard secretly harbours a desire to play in the Championship next season.

Since stalling on signing an extension to his contract, Llorente has fallen out of favour with Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa and it now seems certain that the frontman will be sold in January so the Spanish club can cash in rather than see him leave on a free six months later.

That suits Llorente down to the ground. "It is true that we are approaching the date when I can sign for other clubs," Llorente said. Asked where he's likely to be heading, he replied: "I really like the Premier League and I've mentioned on more than one occasion that it's a league which appeals to me a lot... It's one good option in terms of my future."

And as for rumours in the Italian press that Juventus are confident of securing his services, Llorente had this to say on the subject: "No. That's totally untrue."

However, if you believe that the bookies are always right then it seems Arsenal are likely to snare a different frontman in January. Down at Ladbrokes they are tipping Klass-Jan Huntelaar to be the big January arrival, and you can take a punt on him to be first past the post and into the Emirates at 5/2.

Sticking with betting matters, previous reports have suggested that the Gunners could land Huntelaar for a bargain price, while Ladbrokes are offering 3/1 that Arsene Wenger breaks the club's transfer record next month, and that suggests a big name like Llorente could be on the cards.

Speculation about the future of Theo Walcott still abounds. Yesterday he was being tipped to hook up with old Arsenal colleague Robin van Persie at Manchester United, but today he is being linked to a reunion with Nicklas Bendtner at Juventus.

According to Talksport, the Italians are said to be prepared to pay the winger £90,000 and will try and tempt Wenger with an offer of £8m in the new year.

Another Arsenal target in the news is Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama, who is now being regularly tipped with a move to Manchester United. The Scotsman says Alex Ferguson will make a move next month when he offloads Nani, although the paper also points out that Celtic boss Neil Lennon has slapped a £25m price-tag on the Kenyan star.

Back in Spain and Talksport reports that Liverpool target Alexis Sanchez will not be leaving Barcelona next month. The Reds have been chasing the Chilean winger for months, despite the fact the 23-year-old only moved to the Camp Nou from Udinese in the summer of 2011.

Since then, however, he's been ravaged by injuries and though this has hampered his availability for Barcelona it doesn't appear to have deterred Liverpool from tailing the talented wing man. Talksport claims that Reds manager Brendan Rodgers is a big fan of Sanchez's passing abilities and is keen to bring him to Anfield.

But told of Liverpool's interest, Sanchez's agent Fernando Felicevich said: "In no case will Alexis leave Barcelona… Alexis stays in Barcelona. Has no reason to leave. He is at the best team in the world."

French broadcaster Canal Plus reports that Manchester City are tracking Paris Saint-Germain defender Mamadou Sakho. The 22-year-old France international was once linked to Arsenal but that was when the Gunners were good.

Instead, it's reported that the strapping six-footer, who's won ten caps for France, is a target for Sky Blues boss Roberto Mancini in the January transfer market. To make way for Sakho, Mancini is set to offload England defender Joleon Lescott to Everton.

Finally, the Daily Mail says Manchester United's bid to sign Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna has hit the buffers after the 24-year-old underwent surgery on a hernia.

Ogbonna, who is of Nigerian descent, came through the Torino youth academy and has been watched several times by United scouts in recent months. The Italian outfit have slapped an £18m price tag on him, though the Premier League leaders may look to reduce that sum in light of his recent surgery.

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Bill Mann...CUNT