Barcelona circle Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen
After Saturday's inglorious defeat to Blackburn, how many Gunners will be tempted to jump ship?
BARCELONA are looking to lure Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen from the Emirates once the Gunners' disastrous season is finished, according to the Daily Mirror.
With fresh questions marks raised about Arsene Wenger's future in wake of Saturday's catastrophe, when Arsenal went down 1-0 at home to Championship side Blackburn in the FA Cup, the Mirror says an increasing number of Arsenal players are also wondering if they might not be better off elsewhere.
In recent seasons Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song have jumped ship from the Emirates and Vermaelen is also now reported to be eyeing the lifeboat that is Barcelona.
The Mirror claims that Barcelona are concerned about the long-term health of Eric Abidal, who has "unresolved issues" following a liver transplant last April, and want Vermaelen as his successor.
Wenger is said to be keen to keep hold of the 27-year-old defender but Barcelona are apparently ready to use David Villa "as bait" in their bid to sign him. The Mirror says Barcelona will offer Arsenal their striker in return for Vermaelen.
Mind you, if The Sun is to be believed it's not Villa that Arsenal are after but Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes. The red-top reports that the 31-year-old shot-stopper will be allowed to leave the Camp Nou at the end of the season "providing they can get £10 million for him".
Valdes stated recently his desire to experience a "different culture", and cultures don't get more different than at Arsenal, where each week brings a new form of humiliation. The Sun says Wenger is up for the idea of signing Valdes but a potential obstacle is his wages: currently he take home £120,000 a week with Barcelona, which is outside the Gunners' pay bracket.
Then again, the Daily Mail would have us believe that Wenger is hot on the heels of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina and a summer bid will be made for the Spaniard.
And if things weren't bad enough for Arsenal fans right now, the Metro reports that Carlos Vela could be set for "a shock return" to the club. The misfiring Mexican hitman was sold to Real Sociedad in the summer, to the general relief of the Arsenal faithful, but he could be about to wing his way back to north London to miss more glorious chances in front of goal.
Apparently Arsenal, for reasons only they know, inserted a "buy-back option" worth £3.5m in his contract when they sold him to the Spanish club. "They have a clause to buy me back, you put that in the contract for a reason," 23-year-old Vela revealed to the Metro. Then, as if rubbing salt into the weeping wounds of Gooners, he added with a hunt of smugness: "I know Arsenal have come to see my games."
Finally, Goal.com boasts an exclusive with the news that Manchester United are preparing to jettison Anders Lindegaard in the summer. The news is further proof that the Premier League leaders are confident of signing Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic.
Danish gloveman Lindegaard began the season brightly but then had a shocker against Reading in December and has since lost his place to David de Gea. According to Goal, Lindegaard, who arrived at Old Trafford in January 2011, will be "moved on in the summer".