Arsenal on alert for Gundogan and 'bid' for Ntep and Lascelles
Gunners go after new talent, as Southampton brace for Shaw, Lallana and Lambert exits
THESE days Arsenal seem to spend more time on "the alert" than the paparazzi outside Justin Bieber's house, but the Gunners are at it again according to the Daily Star.
This time their interest has been piqued by Ilkay Gundogan's declaration that he is considering his future after reported enquiries from Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The 25-year-old Borussia Dortmund playmaker has missed a large part of the season with injury but that doesn't appear to have dimmed his star appeal. Taking its lead from German rag Bild, the Star claims that the midfielder is being chased by the two European giants - plus United - with a summer move the most likely scenario.
Asked by Bild if he'd made up his mind about his future, Gundogan replied: "I have not made a final decision yet... but I am keeping my options open at this point. Borussia Dortmund have not set me an ultimatum. I am just trying to get healthy again and get back to my best form." The Star says that both Arsene Wenger and David Moyes are "huge admirers" of the Dortmund dynamo and both are likely to table bids in the future.
Meanwhile Auxerre have denied that the Gunners have made an offer for striker Paul-Georges Ntep, despite reports that a deal is in the offing, reports Metro. Not content with poaching Yaya Sanogo from the French Ligue 2 side in the summer, it is now being reported that the Gunners are back for more and are in the process of finalising a €10m deal that will see the youngster spend the rest of the season in France before arriving in London in the summer.
Ntep's club are not convinced however. Auxerre president Guy Cotret told French media: "Arsenal has not even expressed an interest. We just received one offer for the player and it was Rennes."
Championship side Nottingham Forest could face a fight to hold on to talented defender Jamaal Lascelles, if the Daily Mail is to be believed. The 20-year-old has been offered a new contract at the City Ground, but Arsenal are said to be preparing a £3m bid for the centre back while Newcastle are said to be preparing a larger offer.
The departure of Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese means it is open season on the club's stars. The Daily Telegraph reports that with the St Mary's hierarchy in chaos and the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino in doubt, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are preparing for a bidding war over teenage defender Luke Shaw. The youngster is tipped for greatness and could cost up to £20m.
The Daily Mirror says that club captain Adam Lallana could also be on the way out, along with Shaw. The England midfielder would cost around £15m. The third big name heading for the exit is likely to be Rickie Lambert, who could be on his way to West Ham in a £7m deal, says the Daily Mail.
One player United won't be getting their hands on is Torino winger Alessio Cerci - at least not for the time being. Both the Red Devils and Manchester City have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old wideman but Talksport reports that the Italian club have pooh-poohed the idea of a move to England.
"Alessio is tied with us until 2016," Torino chairman Urbano Cairo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Alessio has been with us for some time, and so, for me, he is not for sale." But quizzed on whether they could sell Cerci at some point down the line, Cairo conceded. "In the future, if he decides to consider an offer from a big, wealthy club, then sure, we'll talk. But at the moment, there have been no signals."
Elsewhere and the London Evening Standard reports that Michael Essien is being urged to think hard about turning his back on the Blues. The Ghana international midfielder, who joined Chelsea from Lyon for £24.4m in 2005, has started just five games this season under Jose Mourinho and wants more action ahead of the summer World Cup.
With Nemanja Matic on the verge of joining Chelsea, Essien's chances for regular game time look even more restricted, so agent Fabien Piveteau has suggested it might be an idea if he looked at AC Milan. The Serie A side are said to be interested in Essien and Piveteau told Italian media: "We have not yet opened any direct talks with AC Milan but this does not mean he cannot move to Italy. Clearly this is a great opportunity for my player."
Asked if a deal was close, Piveteau said: "Milan have to first speak with Chelsea and they have to decide what they want to do with Essien."
Finally, Sky Sports confirms that as expected Chelsea have completed the signing of former midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica for a fee believed to be in the region of £20m. The 25-year-old Serbian left Chelsea three years ago for Benfica as part of the deal that saw David Luiz move to the Bridge, but now he's back on a five-and-a-half-year contract. "I am very happy for this opportunity to be back at this club," Matic is quoted as saying. "I feel very good because of that and just want to say I will give my best to help the team and make the Chelsea fans happy."
Blues boss Jose Mourinho was also pleased with the deal, saying: "He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions."