Man Utd face fight to keep RVP as Arsenal line up Balotelli

Feb 13, 2014
Bill Mann

Dutchman said to be unhappy under Moyes - could be team up with Madcap Mario at Arsenal?

THE future of Robin van Persie is once again under the spotlight with claims that the Manchester United striker is being targeted by AC Milan and Juventus, as well as his old club Arsenal.

Caughtoffside makes the claim, citing as its source a report in Portuguese rag Abola. It's alleged that the 30-year-old Dutchman is unhappy with life under David Moyes and will likely leave Old Trafford at the end of the season if Man United fail to qualify for the Champions League.

With Old Father Time stalking the injury-prone Van Persie, who fluffed a couple of golden chances in the goalless draw against Arsenal last night, he knows that he has only has a few seasons left at the top and he wants them to be memorable years, not ones spent in the Europa League.

Caughtoffside points out that although AC Milan are by no means guaranteed Champions League football next season, the chance to work under compatriot Clarence Seedorf at the San Siro "may be a factor" in Van Persie's thinking.

Earlier in the week Arsenal were said to be considering re-signing Van Persie though that seems unlikely given the manner of his departure in 2012 and the reaction of the Emirates crowd to his every touch. But with the Nutty Professor nuttier than ever right now, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that a deal will be done with United at the end of the season.

Talking of big-name strikers and nutty professors, could Arsenal really be considering a bid for madcap firework detonator Mario Balotelli?

Certainly Metro thinks so and it reports that Wenger has even held talks with Balotelli's agent Mino Riola about a possible move to the Emirates in the summer. Intriguingly the paper also suggests that Arsenal's new sponsors, Puma, could help fund the deal.

However, even without the help of German sportswear manufacturers the Gunners would be able to afford the £25m it would take to bring the Italian forward back to the Premier League, which has undoubtedly been a duller place without his antics to enjoy.

When Balotelli quit Man City just over a year ago he seemed delighted to be joining AC Milan, the club he supports, but things have quickly soured and Metro says that the 23-year-old looks increasingly likely to leave Milan after he suffered racist abuse last week during Milan’s clash with Napoli.

Still with AC Milan and Talksport reports that Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu is being eyed up by the Italians. The 19-year-old Spaniard is on loan at the Toffees, whose match against Crystal Palace was postponed last night because of the storms, and has so far impressed Goodison Park gaffer Roberto Martinez. But it seems his good form has also come to the attention of the Italian giants. Everton are keen to make Deulofeu's stay on Merseyside permanent and Talksport says talks are planned with his parent club, Barcelona. But with the Spanish club reluctant to sell the talented teenager, they could be tempted by AC Milan's offer of another loan move next season.

Elsewhere and Metro reports that Schalke boss Jens Keller has come clean and confessed that the club will be helpless to stop Julian Draxler joining Arsenal in the summer - provided they meet his £37.5m release fee. Arsene Wenger was reportedly chasing the 20-year-old midfielder last month but he failed to convince the German outfit to part company with one of the Bundesliga's burgeoning talents. But with Draxler's release clause due to come in to effect at the end of the season, Keller has accepted that they will be powerless to prevent him heading to the Emirates - or anywhere else for that matter.

"I am very happy that Julian is still at Schalke for the second half of the season," he is said in conversation with German daily Bild. "[But] we cannot stop him from leaving when a club meets his buy-out clause. That makes it's hard for me to plan with him, because his future is not in Schalke's hands."

Finally, the Daily Star claims that the agent of Porto midfielder Fernando has confirmed his client will move to the Premier League in the summer but refused to speculate where he might end up. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City have been linked with the 26-year-old playmaker in the past, and it was rumoured the Sky Blues came close to sealing a deal last month.

"Manchester City were a strong candidate, but were not alone in the race," said Antonio Araujo, who when asked if a move was likely next season replied: "God willing, Fernando will play in the Premier League."

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