Chelsea Torres for Costa plan, Vermaelen gives Arsenal hope
Spanish striker's time could finally be up at Stamford Bridge, as Belgian defender makes peace with Wenger
AS CHELSEA prepare to welcome Arsenal to the Bridge tomorrow the Daily Star claims the Blues are also paving the way for the departure of Spanish flop Fernando Torres in the summer.
The paper says that Chelsea chiefs have discussed among themselves the possibility of offering Torres to Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid as part of their bid to land to Diego Costa.
Chelsea have been tailing Costa for months, along with a host of other top European clubs, and the Star says that his £32m price tag will be no problem for the Blues, particularly if they throw the 30-year-old Torres, who cost £50m in 2011, into the bargain.
Atletico Madrid was where it all began for Torres and he recently hinted that he was open to a return to his roots.
Still with Chelsea and the Evening Standard reports that they are contemplating offering a new contract to Eden Hazard "to help see off interest from Real Madrid". The Spanish giants are known to be admirers of the Belgian playmaker, who arrived at the Bridge from Lille in 2012, and Hazard for his part is said to be attracted by the possibility of playing for Real.
According to the Standard Hazard is already one of Chelsea's top earners, taking home around £185,000 a week, but Real are thought to be ready to offer him even more. Hazard has three years left on his Chelsea contract and the club are determined to see him honour that deal, hence the new deal being lined up.
Meanwhile there's good news for Arsenal fans as manager Arsene Wenger approaches his 1,000th game in charge. It seems, according to the Daily Mail, that Thomas Vermaelen may decide to stick with the Gunners next season after all.
The Daily Mail reports that the Belgian defender has been told that his recent lack of game time at the Emirates does not jeopardise his chances of playing for his country, and now that issue has been sorted it seems that the 28-year-old would prefer to stay in London rather than move to pastures new.
However, it is not a done deal. Vermaelen, who is Arsenal captain, wants clarification of how he fits into the club's plans and "will discuss his prospects with Wenger before deciding his next step". But if the Gunners can persuade him to stay it would be a statement of intent that the Emirates will soon be able to boast strength in depth in areas other than injured midfielders.
In other news the Daily Mail also says that Benfica's £25m-rated striker Rodrigo is attracting interest from some of the Premier League's finest, plus Man United. The paper claims that scouts from Liverpool, Chelsea, Old Trafford and even West Bromwich Albion were all present last night to watch Rodrigo in action for the Portuguese club against Tottenham in the Europa League, but alas the 23-year-old was an unused sub.
An unrepentant Benfica boss Jorge Jesus said later of the interest: "Rodrigo is going through a good moment... so it's normal for other clubs to be interested." The Mail says that Rodrigo will sit down with his people at the end of the season and discuss his future with Liverpool, who remain the favourites to land the frontman.
The Daily Mirror is not so sure that Rodrigo is the focus of the English scouts' attentions. It claims that the representatives from Manchester United and Chelsea were in Lisbon to watch Ezequiel Garay. If that was the case then their trip would have been a lot more worthwhile as the 27-year-old defender not only played, but also scored.
Finally, the Daily Star says that Old Trafford's forgotten man, defender Marnick Vermijl, could yet stay at Man Utd – if David Moyes is sacked. Right-back Vermijl is currently on loan with Dutch club NEC and though his United contract runs for another year his agent, Jonny Dullers, says the 22-year-old is fed up with loan deals and wants to return to Old Trafford and try and establish himself.
"He wants to be promoted to the first team squad or a transfer," said Dullers. "He still has a contract until 2015, but a lot depends on Moyes' future. If he stays, he'll probably let Marnick go, as he didn't oppose a loan. But if he is sacked, then maybe Marnick still has a future at Man United."