Man Utd beat Arsenal to Zaha deal, as Shaw snubs Gunners
Fergie set to land another forward, as Wenger misses out on two more starlets
THE BATTLE to sign Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha is reaching its climax with the 20-year-old likely to sign for Manchester United in the coming days. The Daily Mirror is one of several papers to report that United manager Alex Ferguson has "blown Arsenal and Spurs out of the race" to land Zaha with a £12 million package.
Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger were said to be pursuing Zaha last autumn following his debut for England and a string of fine performances for Palace in the Championship. But the Mirror says Wenger has "been scared off by Palace's demands", while Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has also had second thoughts about making a play for him.
The Mirror claims United have offered Palace £8m plus a series of add-ons that take the total deal to £12m. In addition, Ferguson has promised to loan Zaha back to the London club for the rest of the season as they strive to secure promotion to the Premier League. The paper says that Palace manager Ian Holloway "believes United's deal to be the best on offer" and it's likely to be accepted in the coming week.
Things get even worse for Arsenal with the news that yet another potential target, Southampton youngster Luke Shaw, has slipped through their fingers. He joins Lewis Holtby, David Villa and probably Zaha on the list of could-have-beens, and January is only ten days old.
The highly-rated 17-year-old, who was linked with the Gunners and Chelsea, has quashed rumours that he would follow in the footsteps of Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott by leaving the Saints. According to the Daily Mail, he will sign a five-year deal at St Mary's when he turns 18 this summer.
"To put an end to all the speculation, I will be committing my future to Southampton. I'm not going anywhere," he said.
But for every player who elects not to join Arsenal there is another player linked to them, and today Metro says that 'Gangnam Style' striker Adam Szalai is top of Wenger's hit list. The 25-year-old forward, who plays for Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga, performs the idiotic Gangnam dance after scoring but Wenger is not holding that against him.
German paper Bild says that Szalai's club have slapped a £20m price tag on him, but Metro calls that an "ambitious" valuation.
And that brings us to our old friend Yann M'Vila, who is still desperately trying to convince the Gunners, or anyone else for that matter, to buy him, two years after he was first linked with a move to Arsenal. This time round, though, his French club, Rennes, have confirmed to Sky Sports that the 22-year-old French international wants to move and that bids have been tabled.
The favourites for his signature are said to be Arsenal, Tottenham, Queens Park Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg.
Back with Manchester United, Talksport reports that Ferguson has dispatched his brother to Spain to eye up Rayo Vallecano striker Leo Baptistao.
While Martin Ferguson soaked up the sun at the weekend, the 20-year-old Baptistao helped Rayo Vallecano to a 3-1 win over Getafe. The Brazilian frontman failed to find the target in the victory but the youngster still apparently impressed the watching Ferguson.
What's also impressed United, according to Talksport, is Baptistao's price tag – a paltry £1.6m. It's rumoured that Ferguson is preparing to loan out Danny Welbeck to Reading this month, freeing up space on the United bench for Baptistao, who has scored six times in 17 matches for the La Liga outfit, and was highly rated as a teenager before a succession of injuries curtailed his progress.
One deal definitely in the bag is Sunderland's capture of midfielder Alfred N'Diaye from Turkish club Bursaspor for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year old Frenchman, who has represented his country at Under-21 level, has signed a three-and-a-half year deal at the Stadium of Light. "Alfred is a strong, powerful young player and as such can offer us more strength in depth," Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill told the club website.
Finally, the Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato claims that Real Madrid are on the tail of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Jose Mourinho knows the veteran shot-stopper from his time in charge of the Blues and sources in Italy claim the Special One is poised to swoop for Cech.
Since moving to the Bridge in 2004, Cech has made nearly 400 appearances for the club but it's believed he could be allowed to leave as Chelsea cull the old guard. Real's regular keeper Iker Casillas has been omitted from the their last two fixtures and speculation is growing in Spain that Mourinho will bring in Cech with a view to selling on Casillas.