Cavani denies Arsenal link, Wenger lines up Ishak Belfodil

Feb 5, 2013
Bill Mann

Are Arsenal about to miss out on youngster Adam Maher, and where will Asmir Begovic head this summer?

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NOW that the transfer window has creaked shut, footballers and agents around the world are looking back on January like students waking with a hangover after a big night out on cheap beer.

Take Edinson Cavani, Napoli's Uruguayan striker, who was rumoured to be a deadline day target for both Arsenal and Manchester City. He now claims he has no recollection of ever flirting with Arsene Wenger in the last chance saloon last week, and says that he only has eyes for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Sky Sports reports that the 25-year-old told Spanish radio: "I know nothing about Arsenal's interest. I have only heard about it now."

Asked about the future, he added: "Barcelona and Real Madrid are teams which stimulate the imagination. But I only think about the present."

Meanwhile, Wenger may have already moved on from Cavani. According to Talksport he is already plotting his summer moves and top of the list is Ishak Belfodil of Parma. The Gunners apparently made eyes at Belfodil in January but Parma president Tommaso Ghirardi has now revealed that although offers were made for some of the club's stars "we decided that we wouldn't sell any of our best players".

However, he did not rule out a sale in June.

Arsenal's hopes of signing Dutch midfielder Adam Maher have taken a downturn after the 19-year-old declared his intention to remain playing in Holland. The news comes as a surprise after Maher's manager at AZ Alkmaar, Gertjan Verbeek, said last month he believed the teenage playmaker would link up with the Gunners at the end of the season.

PSV are known to have expressed an interest in Maher, who was born a Moroccan but became a Dutch international last year, and it appears they're the favourites to snap him up in June.

"In the summer I expect there will be a realistic bid [and] it is certain that I will be leaving," said Maher, who is valued at £8.5m. Asked if his destination would be the Emirates Stadium, he replied: "I have already said that I do not want to go. I want a good stay in the Netherlands, at least another two to three years."

Maher seemed more open to a move to PSV but he appeared to be keeping his options open when he said: "I can also play for Ajax."

Meanwhile Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic says he knows he will be sold in the summer, but his destination is unclear. Stoke agreed a deal for Birmingham keeper Jack Butland in January and Begovic says it means the end of his career at the Britannia.

"I believe that Stoke didn't buy Butland to be a reserve so I think I'm going to be sold in the summer," he told Bosnian paper Oslobodjenje, according to the Daily Mail. But although he has been strongly linked to Manchester United, he insisted he did not know where his future lay.

"I didn't say yes or no to anybody," he said. "I haven't signed anything - no contract, no pre-contract. But I think I'm going to be sold in the summer... I can't move to a smaller club and I also know that some top clubs are interested in me. They are also the only ones who can afford the fee," he explained, modestly.

Talksport reports that minted Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala are ready to offer Florent Malouda an "escape route" from Stamford Bridge. The Frenchman's career has gone into freefall in recent months with neither Roberto Di Matteo nor his successor Rafa Benitez placing much faith in the 32-year-old playmaker.

But Talksport claims that Anzhi "want to land Malouda before their window shuts" later this month. It's believed the Russian outfit will offer the Blues £1m for the services of Malouda in an 18-month deal that will allow him to finish his career in style.

The Italian media outlet Calciomercato suggests that Manchester United are eyeing up Inter Milan winger Yuto Nagamoto. The 26-year-old Japanese international has become a first team regular under Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni but he's now come to the attention of Alex Ferguson and the wily old septuagenarian is poised to make a summer bid.

With neither Nani nor Rafael setting the Old Trafford turf alight in recent months it's believed that Fergie wants Nagamoto to operate in a wing-back role. Nagamoto has fitted in well at the San Siro since his arrival in 2011 but the thought of linking up with Shinji Kagawa at United could prove irresistible.

Still with United and Portuguese rag A Bola reports that Bebe is still hopeful of making the grade with the Premier League leaders. The 22-year-old forward joined United in 2010 but has spent much of the interim on loan. Currently starring with Portuguese outfit Rio Ave, Bebe believes his recent displays will persuade Ferguson to give him some game time next season.

"I'm feeling very good and so I hope to continue to do well with good reports, so I can realise the ambition of returning to Manchester," he told A Bola. "I hope to keep in shape… and return to Manchester United which is my club."

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