Arsenal stay cool on David Villa as Barcelona name their price

Feb 15, 2013
Bill Mann

Meanwhile Chelsea and Real Madrid chase young Spanish star Isco – but he's playing hard to get

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ARSENAL'S alleged pursuit of Barcelona striker David Villa is turning into the sort of long, drawn-out saga that has become the north London club's trademark in recent seasons.

Whether it's players coming or going, the big deals at the Emirates always seem to take months to come to fruition. There were longwinded flirtations with Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh in rencent years, and their departures are also long overdue. Cesc Fabregas was wooed by Barcelona for over a year before he quit, and the Robin van Persie saga dragged on for almost as long.

And now it seems that Gooners can look forward to months of conflicting reports about David Villa, before he eventually joins in July (possibly).

Wenger failed to get his man in January, and then insisted that he wasn't that fussed anyway. It was subsequently reported that Arsenal had given up on the idea of singing him in the summer, particularly after he was hospitalised with kidney stones.

Now it is being claimed that Barcelona have named their price, a move which has been interpreted as meaning that they are prepared to start haggling. Talksport says that the Catalans are asking for £17m for the 31-year-old.

Of course, that prompted the Gunners to once again insist that they had other fish to fry. ESPN reports that Wenger told a press conference on Friday: "I am not on the case." He briefly titillated Arsenal fans by saying the club had more immediate targets, but then ruined the moment by revealing that he meant beating Blackburn rather than signing a promising young striker from an obscure South American club.

Chelsea's hopes of adding Isco to their squad appear to be dwindling after the 20-year-old declared himself happy at Malaga. The Blues and Real Madrid have both been tracking the talented youngster, who earlier this month made his first appearance for Spain in the 3-1 defeat of Uruguay.

But the attacking midfielder – full name Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez – has used an interview with Spanish broadcaster Canal Sur Radio to brush off suggestions he could be about to walk away from La Liga.

"My head is here and my future is in the hands of Malaga," Isco declared.

If Malaga decide to sell him because they need the money, that would be another matter, he said. "But hopefully I can stay here for many years. That is what I want. I am really enjoying it here."

Tottenham will have to pull out all the stops to sign Son Heung-Min. According to Talksport, the Lilywhites are licking their lips at the prospect of enticing the winger to the Lane, but Hamburg won't let the South Korean star go lightly. They are said to be "confident" of persuading Heung-Min to extend his stay at the German club, despite the interest of Spurs and Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.

"Son is a young and very talented player," said Hamburg sporting director Frank Arnesen. "We also have the ambition to discuss a new contract with him. I'm sure we will find a solution for him to stay in Hamburg."

The Metro reports that Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini could make Roma attacking midfielder Erik Lamela his first signing of the summer when the transfer window opens in June.

With the Sky Blues' season in danger of coming apart at the seams, the Metro says Mancini is already planning for next year and to that end he jetted out to Italy last weekend in order to watch Lamela strut his stuff for Roma against Sampdoria in the Serie A.

The 20-year-old Argentina international scored his 11th goal in 19 appearances in front of Mancini, increasing speculation that City will made a bid in June. Roma are believed to have valued Lamela at £20m, five million more than they paid for him two years ago when they bought him from Argentine outfit River Plate. Nonetheless Man City will allegedly pay whatever Roma request as Mancini looks to rebuild his crumbling squad.

Finally, Spanish rag Diario de Sevilla says Joel Campbell still holds out hope of starring for Arsenal. The Costa Rica international is on loan at Real Betis after being signed by Arsenal in the summer of 2011.

With problems over his work permit, the fiery frontman is currently learning his trade in La Liga, but the 20-year-old believes he'll soon be back at the Emirates. "I will concentrate until June and see what will happen after. I'll give everything on the pitch until June… [but] Arsenal are in charge of my career and I am longing to play with them."

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