Arsenal face Man Utd Mangala fight, Liverpool go after Sagna
Gunners have been in talks with 23-year-old French defender, but United are also keen
AS ARSENAL prepare to bring Bayern Munich back down to earth, the Daily Star reports that Manchester United intend to blindside the Gunners by "stepping up pursuit" of Porto's Eliaquim Mangala.
As we reported last week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has allegedly been in "secret talks" with the Frenchman and a deal was expected to be signed in the summer. But now it appears Olivier Giroud hasn't been the only man sneaking around of late because the Star claims that United scouts nipped over to Portugal on Sunday behind Wenger's back to watch Mangala star in Porto's 2-1 win at Gil Vicente.
Apparently United gaffer David Moyes wants Mangala to replace Nemanja Vidic next season and will be willing to meet the 23-year-old's £35m buy-out clause having been promised "unlimited funds" to rebuild the once great Old Trafford club. Mangala, who joined Porto in 2011 from Standard Liege in a £6m deal, has also attracted attention from Chelsea and Manchester City but it's believed Arsenal are still favourites to land him thanks to the French connection at the Emirates.
And its not just Man United derailing Arsenal's plans. Metro reports that Liverpool have entered the race to lure full-back Bacary Sagna away from the Emirates. The 31-year-old defender is out of contract at the end of the season and is said to be considering a move to pastures new unless the Gunners offer him a new long term deal and plenty of money.
One of the clubs following the contract negotiations with interest is Inter Milan, but Metro reports on claims from Sky Italia that Inter's hopes of signing the Frenchman have been dealt a blow by Liverpool's sudden arrival on the scene. Apparently the Reds have come in with a "lucrative offer" offer for Sagna and such a "serious package" could have a big impact on where his future lies.
Meanwhile, there's more bad news for Gunners fans after claims by Thomas Vermaelen's agent Alex Kroes that the defender has told Arsenal he wants to leave in the summer. The comments were originally made by Kroes to French media outlet Le10 Sport, and all that has happened since, according to the Daily Express, is that Kroes has downplayed suggestions that Vermaelen has already agreed his next move.
There had been talk that the Belgian defender was packing his bags for Napoli, but by refuting that suggestion while at the same time refusing to deny that Vermaelen wants out, Kroes seems to be doing a good job of making it clear that the player is available to the highest bidder.
In other news Metro reports that Pepe Reina is set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season. The Spanish shotstopper has been on loan with Napoli since the start of the season with the Reds putting their faith instead in Simon Mignolet. And with the Belgian gloveman impressing Brendan Rodgers it appears Reina realises he no longer has a future at Anfield when his loan deal expires in the summer. Reina arrived at Liverpool Anfield in 2005 from Villarreal but says he has settled in well in Italy. "I'm very happy here [in Napoli] and my family's happy too," he told reporters, increasing speculation that he will soon agree a permanent deal with the Serie A club.
Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olic has hinted that he could be lining up a move to the Premier League next season. Sky Sports reports that the Croatian international, who has spent the last seven years in Germany with Hamburg, Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, is looking to end his days in England. Now 34-years-old there is said to be life in the old dog yet and Stoke and Southampton are two of the sides that have been linked with the ageing hitman.
Wolfsburg have offered Olic a one-year extension but he told German broadcaster WAZ: "As a young player my dream was to play in the Premier League... now, at this age, I may have that chance. To play against Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool one more time, that excites me."
Finally, remember Quincy Owusu-Abeyie? Once hailed as a teenage prodigy when he made his debut at left-back for Arsenal in 2003, the 27-year-old never fulfilled his potential with the Gunners and left for Spartak Moscow in 2006. Since then he's had loan spells with Birmingham, Cardiff and Portsmouth but Owusu-Abeyie is still looking to establish himself in the big-time. Now, according to Talksport, he's poised to be given one last bite at the cherry with Real Valladolid.
Currently looking for gainful employment after being released by Greek outfit Panathinaikos, the Ghana international could be set for a deal with the Spanish outfit "if he can prove his fitness".