Man U and Arsenal fight over Draxler and defender Ginter
United join hunt for German winger as Arsenal check out United defensive target Ginter
THERE was a spot of espionage in Augsburg on Friday night according to the Daily Star as Manchester United kept Julian Draxler under surveillance. It seems that the Red Devils, who crashed to a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool on Sunday, want the 20-year-old playmaker to defect to Old Trafford in the summer despite the fact Arsenal have been tailing the German ace for months.
Draxler, who made one of Schalke's goals in their 2-1 win over Augsburg, comes with a £37m release clause in his contract and the Star says United are prepared to exceed it at the end of the season, if necessary. Manager David Moyes has "identified" Draxler as the man to bring some magic to his midfield and is determined to outbid Arsenal to land his man. Mind you, would Draxler be daft enough to come to a club not even good enough to make the Europa League?
One player who seems anxious to avoid United is Paul Pogba. According to the Daily Mirror, Pogba has "rejected the chance" to return to Old Trafford even though Moyes is willing to pay Juventus £35m for the 20-year-old. Pogba, who left United in 2012 after refusing to sign a new contract with the then manager Alex Ferguson, is holding out for a move to Real Madrid and hopes compatriot Zinedine Zidane will help fulfil his dream. Zidane is now the club's sporting director and the Mirror says he has "launched a huge charm offensive to take Pogba to the Bernabeu". It's expected Juventus will sell the French midfielder to Real in the summer once a transfer fee has been agreed.
The Mirror also reveals that while United's scouts were checking out an Arsenal target, Arsenal's scouts were snooping on a player who is wanted at Old Trafford. Apparently Gunners spy Steve Rowley spent the weekend in Germany and cast his eye over Freiberg defender Matthias Ginter.
With Thomas Vermaelen likely to quit the Gunners at the end of the season, Wenger is after a back-up centre-back as cover for per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and believes the 20-year-old German could be just the ticket, after all he already knows how it feels to act as understudy to Mertesacker as that is his role in the Germany squad.
Arsenal are hoping that an offer of £8m will land them the player in the summer, even though he is wanted by Manchester Utd, who will be in the market for an entire back four this summer.
In other news the Daily Mail says that Manchester City are "still interested" in Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes even though Joe Hart has come through his shaky spell and is back to his best between the sticks. The 32-year-old Valdes has allegedly told Barca he will be leaving the Nou Camp when his contract expires at the end of the season and the Mail claims City's chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain are preparing a lucrative offer for the veteran gloveman. But Liverpool and Monaco are also monitoring the situation and Valdes has yet to give any clue as to his preference.
Finally, Goal.com reports that Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri is "flattered" by the interest shown in him by Liverpool with a move to Anfield in the summer is a distinct possibility. The 22-year-old Swiss international has struggled for game time at Bayern – who stretched their unbeaten league run to 50 matches at the weekend – under boss Pep Guardiola with the youngster playing second fiddle to the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller. The former Basel hotshot, who joined Bayern two years ago, has been linked recently with Liverpool, Juventus and Napoli, and he admitted to Goal.com: "When you hear these names, of course you have to listen to the offer, but there is nothing concrete." Asked if he had preference for where he would like to play in the future, Shaqiri replied: "Bundesliga is the best league for me, but I also like the Premier League and Serie A."