Arsenal targets young strikers Drmic and Alcacer
Strapping 21-year-old Swiss Drmic on Wenger's radar 'for months', Veramelen frustrated
WAS Arsenal's limp display against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night just a cunning cover for an Arsene Wenger scouting mission in Germany? According to German rag Bild, the Gunners boss is making plans for a summer swoop for Nuremburg frontman Josip Drmic.
The strapping Swiss striker, all 6ft 2in of him, has been finding the net this season with the same impressive regularity that Arsenal's finest have been hobbling to the physio's table, and now he's also scoring for the senior Switzerland side having won his first cap in 2012. Still just 21, Drmic has apparently been on Arsene Wenger's radar for months and Bild claims that the Arsenal boss will make his move "at the end of the season".
But there could be a cloud on the horizon for the Gunners, namely interest from Russia side Zenit St Petersburg, who are also tracking the youngster, presumably as a replacement for Andrei Arshavin, who they took off Arsenal's hands last season only to discover he really isn't much good any more.
Another striker being linked with a summer move to the Emirates is Valencia hitman Francisco Alcacer. The 20-year-old has caught Wenger's eye after impressing for the Spanish La Liga side with six goals in 13 games this season, according to the Daily Mail. Alcacer, who has represented Spain at Under-21 level, and presumably Drmic, are seen as replacements for Nicklas Bendtner, who will be leaving at the end of the season... although possibly not in a taxi.
Meanwhile the Daily Star says Thomas Vermaelen had admitted he's growing frustrated at his lack of game time at the Emirates. The Belgium international was a starter in Tuesday's night 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich and big match occasions like that only serve to underline what the 28-year-old defender is missing since losing his place to the centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Asked about his future after this season, Vermaelen replied: "There has been a lot of speculation, but I can't talk about it because I don't know what is going on." But what he did say was he was finding it hard to adjust to playing second fiddle: "It is not easy, but I try to stay positive... I work hard for the team and that is the only thing that I can do."
In other news, Metro reports that Manchester United are "considering a move" for rising Tottenham star Nabil Bentaleb at the end of the season. The 19-year-old Algerian ace has established himself in the Spurs midfield under Tim Sherwood and his displays appear to have caught the attention of United boss David Moyes.
Metro says he has instructed his scouts to monitor the teenager for the rest of the season and if he continues to impress a big-money offer will be made in the summer. How much it would cost to prise Bentaleb from the Lane remains unclear but it's believed Spurs would demand "in excess of £10m", particularly as he is expected to make a name for himself in the World Cup with Algeria.
The same paper claims that Chelsea's pursuit of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, now a fully-fledged Spanish international, is well and truly underway. The club are set to "go all out" to sign him in the summer after making him their top target. The bidding is expected to begin at around £27m, just below the value of his buy-out clause.
Finally, Talksport claims that Spanish outfit Deportivo La Coruna are after former Liverpool winger Albert Riera. The Spaniard wideman is a free agent having been released by Galatasaray in January and West Bromwich Albion and Everton have both been mooted as suitors in recent weeks. But the 31-year-old could now be bound for Deportivo as a replacement for Diogo Salomao, who is out for the rest of the season after picking up a serious knee last week.