Arsenal eye Costa and Kalou, but Morata and Benzema out

Jan 7, 2014
Bill Mann

Arsene Wenger on the hunt for Walcott replacement, as he also monitors MK Dons starlet

WITH Arsenal still reeling from the news that Theo Walcott is out until next season with a knee injury, rumours about replacements are flying faster than coins from a section of Tottenham fans. Though Olivier Giroud is expected to be fit for next Monday's clash with Aston Villa, Arsenal are without Nicklas Bendtner for a month and Lukas Podolski is still working his way back to fitness after a long lay-off, so the pressure is on Arsene Wenger to bring in new blood. 

According to the International Business Times, Wenger will swoop for another striker in the coming weeks with Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa high on his list of preferred choices. The IB Times reports that Arsenal scouts have watched Costa "on several occasions this season" and though Wenger had previously laughed off the idea of meeting the Brazilian's €38m (£31.6m) release cause, his current predicament may lead the nutty professor to open the purse strings for a player also said to be a target for Manchester United.

"The player has a clause of €38m and the big clubs in England know this," Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Caminero told Spanish rag Marca. Asked whether he thought the hitman could leave Madrid if Arsenal come calling, Caminero replied. "Right now, Costa does not think of leaving... I am confident he will continue with us." Famous last words?

If Sky Sports is to be believed, Wenger is also pondering pouncing for former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou. The Ivorian left Stamford Bridge for Lille on a free transfer in the summer of 2012 and he's flourished in France, scoring freely this season and showing the kind of form he displayed regularly during his six years at the Bridge.

Sky claims that Liverpool are also monitoring Kalou although it's believed the 28-year-old would prefer London to Liverpool.

However, one player that Wenger won't be able to get his hands on is much admired Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who had been linked with both a loan move and a permanent switch to the Emirates. But the Evening Standard says no deal of any kind will take place because the 21-year-old is too talented to release permanently and not available on a short term deal, either.

The Standard report also appears to put the mockers on the prospect of the Gunners luring Karim Benzema to London. Rumours that Arsenal were after the French forward have been doing the rounds since the summer, but in describing young Morata as "back-up to main striker Karim Benzema", the Standard makes it clear that Benzema is no longer surplus to requirements in Spain.

Another Arsenal target who is staying put is former Man United prodigy turned Juventus ace, Paul Pogba. The Independent reports that Juventus general manager Guiseppe Marotta has scotched rumours that they are prepared to offload the 20-year-old and instead says they want to extend his contract.

"Pogba is a very good football player and so the eyes of big clubs are on him, but we don't want to sell him," he announced. "We will soon talk with his agent about his contract."

Arsenal and Liverpool are reportedly at loggerheads at Dele Alli, a player the Daily Express describes as an "MK Dons wonderkid". The paper says in this case it's Liverpool who are leading the chase for the teenage midfielder, who made his senior league debut at the age of 16 in November 2012. Apparently Reds boss Brendan Rodgers watched Alli in action at the weekend during the MK Dons' FA Cup tie with Wigan at the DW Stadium. Arsenal and Newcastle scouts have also run the rule over the 17-year-old in recent weeks and the Dons are bracing themselves for a bid before the month is out.

Finally, the Daily Mail claims that Emiliano Viviano is "unsettled" in north London and could be about to leave Arsenal. The Italian keeper has yet to feature for the Gunners since his summer loan move from Palermo and understandably he's growing concerned that his lack of game time will impact on his chances of making Italy's World Cup squad. The Mail says that the 28-year-old's plight has alerted both AC Milan and Bologna, and a return to the Serie A seems likely.

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