Arsenal face fight for Azmoun, but Belhanda is keen

Apr 8, 2014
Bill Mann

Gunners want Iranian teen and £25m Argentine winger Iturbe, as Belhanda practically begs to join

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HE'S got the sort of strike rate that wouldn't look out of place at the Emirates this season, and after three goals in ten games for Rubin Kazan, the Daily Star says striker Sardar Azmoun could soon be bringing his sluggish skills to Arsenal.

The paper claims that the Gunners are set to square up to AC Milan this summer over the 19-year-old who hails from northern Iran and has been dubbed, with grim inevitability, the 'Iranian Messi'.

Azmoun, who only joined Rubin in January 2013, has caught the eye of the Serie A outfit and reports in Italy suggest that Milan are willing to offer the Russians £2m, a sum that apparently Arsenal are willing to exceed, such is their determination to enjoy a strong Europa League campaign next season.

Asked about the rumours, Azmoun replied: "There already are solid offers coming from both Arsenal and AC Milan... [and] both their representatives are about to meet Rubin Kazan management next Thursday."

On the subject of which club he would prefer, Azmoun's response suggested he hasn't watched Match of the Day for a while. "I'm really happy for such clubs being interested in signing me, and playing in Premier League would be a dream coming true."

In other news Talksport claims that Juan Manuel Iturbe has had a £25m price tag slapped on him by Italian outfit Hellas Verona. The 20-year-old winger had been tearing up Serie A this season on a loan spell from Porto, and while the Portuguese club are expected to agree to a permanent move in the summer, Talksport says Verona will then sell on Iturbe to the highest bidder.

Among those chasing the wideman are Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, although there is also strong competition from  Real Madrid and Roma. The Argentine is apparently close to agreeing a £12m move to Verona but is happy with what Verona have in store for him in the summer.

Arsenal may have more luck if they go after Moroccan midfielder Younes Belhanda, who was tipped to come to England last summer, but ended up joining Dynamo Kiev instead. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given events in the Ukraine, Belhanda is still keen on a move to the Premier League reports Sky Sports.

The 24-year-old made it clear that he would quit Kiev if he got the chance and issued a thinly veiled come-and-get-me in an interview with France Football. "I am dreaming about England. Every player wants to play in England one day. I have to experience that," he said. "My favourite club? Arsenal, of course. It is the club of Frenchmen. Newcastle as well, but they are a step below. Manchester City and Liverpool are exciting too."

Thinly veiled? More like completely naked.

According to Roma defender Mehdi Benatia is being pursued by a posse of clubs this season with Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Barcelona all linked to the 26-year-old in recent weeks. In conversation with French sports daily L'Equipe, Benatia's agent, Moussa Sissoko, revealed just how popular his client has become after his standout season in Serie A. "The directors are aware of the fact that big clubs are interested," said Sissoko. "We will have a meeting with Roma... after the meeting with Roma we will see what Mehdi's decision will be."

Assuming Sky Sports aren't barking up the wrong tree, then Manchester United may finally part company with Nani in the summer with Juventus, Fiorentina and Inter Milan all said to be waiting patiently for the hand of the Portuguese winger.

After an injury-ravaged season at Old Trafford, the 27-year-old Nani made his first United appearance of the year in the 4-0 tonking of Newcastle on Saturday. And now that's be back agent Andrea Pastorello is talking tough, declaring: "Nani is a very important player and at this time the only thing I can say is that he is likely to leave Manchester." Admitting that Serie A was Nani's likely destination, Pastorello added: "The problem for Fiorentina and the other Italian clubs is the player's salary... we will evaluate all bids"

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