Arsenal lose Halilovic to Barca, will Spurs nab Diego Costa?
Teenage Croatian midfielder heads to Barca in deal worth £10m, as Spurs ponder Soldado swap deal
BARCELONA'S transfer battle with Arsenal continues with the news that Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement with Dynamo Zagreb to sign one of the most wanted teenagers in Europe, Alen Halilovic.
The Daily Mail claims that the Spanish giants, not content with securing the signature of Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Borussia Monchengladbach, have now sealed the deal for the 17-year-old Halilovic. The news will come as a bitter blow to Arsenal who, as we reported late last year, were eyeing up the teenage sensation.
Tottenham were also said to be interested along with Real Madrid, who had sent their scouts to watch the player dubbed the "new Luka Modric". Whether that's a compliment or a curse is open to conjecture but what is looking ever more certain is the fact that next season Halilovic will be playing his football at Camp Nou.
According to the Mail, Barcelona are paying Zagreb around £6m with £4m more to come in add-ons. It's believed Barca will start Halilovic off in the club's youth academy and ease him gently into the senior squad through their highly-regarded B team. Already capped three times by Croatia, Halilovic is expected to mature into a world-class midfielder.
Arsenal could also have their noses tweaked by Spurs in the race to sign Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, who is also wanted by other clubs including Chelsea and Manchester United.
According to Spanish rag Sport, Spurs may try to land the Brazilian striker in a swap deal that would involve one of the club's many summer flops, Roberto Soldado, heading back to his homeland. Sport, though, admits that Costa, who has a £32m release clause written into his contract, may not regard White Hart Lane as an "interesting destination". Another issue could be Spurs' valuation of Soldado, who became their record signing when they paid Valencia £26m for his services in the summer. However, a return of five goals in 22 games will hardly have increased his value.
Talking of strikers, Talksport reports that Manchester United have loaned out Jesse Lingard to Brighton & Hove Albion. The 21-year-old winger has installed himself on the south coast for the rest of the season and Brighton are hoping his skills will come in handy as they push for promotion from the Championship. The England Under-21 star made a big impact on with Birmingham City earlier this season, scoring four goals on his debut, and speculation is increasing that Lingard may look to make his move to the seaside permanent in the summer.
Meanwhile Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has rubbished reports suggesting he is poised to make an offer to Inter Milan's Javier Zanetti. The 40-year-old defender is still producing the goods in Serie A but when Sky Sport Italia asked the Special One if he wanted the Argentine as a player-coach next season, Mourinho replied: "It is not true that I have made an offer to Zanetti... it makes no sense to take him out of Inter because he will remain there forever."
Finally, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has "scotched rumours" that vice-captain Daniel Agger could be on the brink of leaving Anfield. The Danish international, who has been linked to Napoli in recent weeks, was substituted during Liverpool's recent win over Swansea for no apparent reason and that sparked speculation that all was not well on Merseyside. But Rodgers has told Talksport people are reading too much into the situation. "There has been a lot of spotlight, unfairly, on Daniel this week. What happened to Daniel was no different to what happened to any player," explained Rodgers. "We made the change and Dan has taken it like the man he is. He has been outstanding in training this week and he will play on Saturday, no question about that."