Arsenal only want 'exceptional' players - Walcott yet to sign
Wenger says Gunners might not buy, as they are linked to Remy and Capoue
SOMETIMES its hard to know what's going on at Arsenal. Having been linked to almost every big name star in Europe throughout the autumn, things suddenly go quiet at the Emirates come January. Eleven days after the transfer window opened and Arsene Wenger is still waiting for Theo Walcott to sign his new contract and has declared that he is not in any rush to bring in new players, telling reporters that his squad is "quite complete".
According to the Daily Mirror, Wenger is "a bit more optimistic" than he was last week about the prospect of Walcott signing a new contract, but insisted that his new central role was not part of the negotiations. "Theo can have a preference maybe to play through the middle but first of all he never made a condition of that to extend his contract, because certainly I would not accept it," announced Wenger.
Having seen Arsenal miss out on Lewis Holtby, Luke Shaw, David Villa and probably Wilfried Zaha so far this month the Arsenal boss also took time to rule out a move for striker Alvaro Negredo and said there was no guarantee that Arsenal would buy anyone this month.
"You are under pressure always to buy in England and [people think] every problem has to be sorted out by buying people," he said. "We only want to bring in an exceptional player. At the moment we have not found him."
The Mirror has some good news in that Arsenal are prepared to release two unexceptional players. Sebastien Squillaci and Andrei Arshavin will both be allowed to leave the Emirates.
Arsenal fans desperate for gossip will find some solace in a Metro report that the Gunners are chasing highly-rated Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue. The Fremnch midfielder has registered on the Arsenal radar before and is also said to be attracting interest from Chelsea. The French club want £12m for the player.
Another unlikely-sounding rumour comes from the pages of The Independent, which claims that French forward Loic Remy is also on Wenger's wishlist. The £10m striker is yet another player who has been linked with the Gunners in the past, but the Indie is convinced that this time they really are after him and are prepared to enter the race to sign the 26-year-old Marseilles man. Newcastle, QPR and Inter Milan are also said to be interested.
Manchester could soon be a 'Bonkers-free' zone as AC Milan prepare a £24m bid for Mario Balotelli. The Italian club are expected to make their offer formal in the coming days, The Sun reports, even though club owner Silvio Berlusconi recently branded Bonkers Balotelli a "rotten apple".
The madcap Manchester City striker arrived for training on Thursday sporting a blond shark's fin haircut, but if the Sun has got it right it could one of the last occasions when the 22-year-old is seen in Manchester. City have apparently decided to sell the troublesome player and are waiting to examine AC Milan's offer.
The Daily Mail claims the deal is also contingent on another factor - namely Milan being able to "offload Robinho" this month. Ironically the Italian club bought Robinho from City in 2010 but he hasn't been a success and they are now desperate to sell the 28-year-old Brazilian in order to make room for Balotelli.
Internacional striker Leandro Damiao has ruled out a move to Tottenham this month. Rumours began circulating earlier in the week that the Brazilian frontman could be on his way to the Lane, with the Lilywhites tabling a £10m bid. But according to the Metro, Damiao has rubbished the idea, declaring: "There has been no proposal, no negotiations. I'm only thinking about Internacional."
Though the news will come as a blow to Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas, who recently confirmed he was tracking Damiao, the striker did appear to suggest his loyalty to Internacional might not last longer than June.
Talksport reports that Everton are on the tail of Brazilian full-back Fernando Marcal with a view to signing the 23-year-old before the month is out. Rumours are gathering pace that Everton full-back Leighton Baines could be on his way out of Goodison Park in the summer, and manager David Moyes is apparently already looking to sign a replacement for the England international.
Marcel currently plays for Nacional, who lie 14th in the Portuguese league, and Talksport claims they could be tempted to sell to the Toffees if they come up with a serious offer.
French sports website le10sport.com reports that Newcastle have made an official offer for Valenciennes left-back Gaetan Bong. The strapping 24-year-old has caught the eye of Magpies boss Alan Pardew, despite the fact he only recently signed defender Mathieu Debuchy from Lille.
Valenciennes president Jean-Raymond Legrand told le10sport.com: "Newcastle are very interested, they have made an offer. We will wait and see. But I will not sell players unless I can replace them."
Legrand didn't reveal the nature of the offer but whatever the amount it will probably be enough to wrest Bong from a small, cast-strapped club such as Valenciennes.
Finally, Fiorentina president Mario Cognigni has confessed he would love to get his hands on Frank Lampard. The 34-year-old midfielder will be leaving Chelsea in May and several clubs including LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-German have already been linked with him.
Now Fiorentina could offer him the chance to see his out career in the warm Tuscan sunshine after Cognigni admitted to La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Lampard is a player I have always liked and may be an example of today's marketplace… he may be the right combination between experience and cost of the deal."
Pressed on whether an offer for Lampard would be made in the next month, Cognigni said the final decision was not up to him "but to our market men".