Arsenal and Spurs battle over Belhanda, Gunners ditch Villa
Playmaker who won French Young Player of the Year Award comes with a £10m price tag
THERE'S a spat brewing in north London as Arsenal and Tottenham both chase Montpellier playmaker Younes Belhanda. The Daily Mail says that the 22-year-old "is available" for £10m but that Montpellier are also talking with Turkish outfit Fenerbahce.
The Moroccan magician came to prominence last season, helping Montpellier to their first French league title and winning the French Young Player of the Year award. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was impressed by what he saw of Belhanda in the Champions League earlier in the season but the Mail says Tottenham are favourites to land the star.
Meanwhile, Wenger is continuing his policy of not signing some of the biggest names in Europe after he ruled out a move for Barcelona star David Villa, who has done pretty much everything he can this month to secure a move to Arsenal.
But according to Goal.com Wenger told reporters: "We have been linked with David Villa but [there is] nothing concrete there. We are not on the case."
And just in case there were any Arsenal fans who were not downcast by that piece of news he added: "We have not contacted West Ham about Mohamed Diame."
Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha's much-anticipated move to Manchester United has finally been confirmed. The BBC reported that the Crystal Palace winger had agreed a five-and-a-half year deal at Old Trafford and would be loaned back to the South Londoners until the end of the season. United will pay £10m up front, says the Beeb, with an extra £5m based on appearances and success.
CaughtOffside also reports that Alex Ferguson has identified another prospect who can shore up the United defence after Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have departed the scene. The United boss is apparently planning an £8m raid for 18-year-old St Etienne player Kurt Zouma in the summer.
Talksport reports that Chesterfield are "willing to listen to offers" for midfield sensation Tendayi Darikwa. Chief executive Chris Turner knows that both Liverpool and Everton have been sniffing around the 21-year-old winger and it's believed that the Merseyside rivals have no problem with his £2m price tag.
Darikwa won last month's League Two Young Player of the Month award and it appears Chesterfield have only his best interests at heart. "Tendayi is a fantastic talent and we would never stand in the way of a player from moving to a Premier League club," explained Turner.
Though neither Liverpool or Everton have yet to make an official enquiry about Darikwa, who came up through Chesterfield's youth academy, Turner said: "If a bid were to come we would of course sit down and discuss it."
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill doesn't seem ready to offload Titus Bramble to QPR any time soon. Rumours emerged earlier in the week that Rangers were eyeing up Bramble as a replacement for Ryan Nelson who, it's claimed, is about to take charge of Toronto FC.
With Rangers therefore in need of a centre-back it was assumed that man would be Bramble, but that's not the case according to O'Neill. "I don't know anything about Titus going to QPR," the Black Cats' boss told the Shields Gazette: "It's only speculation and no-one has spoken to me about it."
Just up the road in Newcastle and the Magpies are edging closer to landing Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko. The Newcastle Chronicle first alerted the world to the potential move earlier in the week and now they say the club is striving to finalise the deal as quickly as possible.
Reports from France suggest the deal could be completed today with both sides agreed on the £2m transfer deal. Sissoko himself seems itching to make the move, telling French media that Newcastle "is a club that attracts me". He also predicts that "they will rise in the second half of the season".
Finally, Manchester United are on the brink of signing Estudiantes winger Jurgen Damm. The Metro says that the 20-year-old had initially been linked with a move to Spanish club Real Oviedo "but is now likely to join United".
It's claimed the Premier League leaders nipped to the front of the queue thanks to top agent Eduardo Hernandez, who counts among his clients United's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez. The Metro says the deal will probably be concluded next week, with United looking to pay Estudiantes in the region of £500,000 for Damm.