Arsenal may have to pay £35m for Balotelli, Aurier deal agreed
Italian striker's price increased by £10m as Wenger begins World Cup spending spree
The future of Mario Balotelli remains as unclear as a Roy Hodgson game plan. According to Goal.com, Arsenal "may have to pay up to £35m" in order to sign the bonkers Italian frontman, £10m more than originally stated. It appears that Milan have suddenly decided the former Manchester City striker is worth more than the initial evaluation and are waiting to see Arsenal's reaction to their new demand.
As we revealed last week, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is believed to have met Balotelli and his agent, Mino Raiola, in Brazil and a deal is close to being agreed. "Arsenal are a fantastic club," Railoa told Sky Sports, and when asked at the weekend if he was on his way to the Emirates, Balotelli replied: "I'm concentrating on the national team and the World Cup... what comes later, we will see. I know nothing."
Milan vice-president Barbara Berlusconi was also keeping her cards close to her chest. When asked about Balotelli's future at the weekend, she said: "Balotelli is a great player and a real Italian talent, but nobody is irreplaceable. We'll see what happens."
Meanwhile Wenger has been doing more in Brazil than buttering up Balotelli. According to the Daily Star the Arsenal manager – working for French television as an analyst – has wrapped up a deal for Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier. Wenger has apparently "agreed an £8m deal" with Ligue 1 side Toulouse for a player he sees as the man to replace Bacary Sagna, who last week confirmed he's joining Manchester City. The 21-year-old Aurier is a versatile player, capable of playing at right or left-back as well as a holding role in midfield, and he's been in fine form for his country during the World Cup. Taking French sports daily L'Equipe as its source, the Star says that Arsenal have offered Aurier a five-year-deal which will "see the Ivory Coast international earn £60,000 a week".
It's believed that Aurier will be the first of a handful of big-name signings made by Wenger in the coming weeks as he looks to spend what the Star says is a £100m war chest. As for who else might be on the Frenchman's shopping list, the Daily Express claims that Arsenal are "closing in on French striker Loic Remy" with the Gunners poised to table a £10m bid for the QPR frontman.
Remy spent last season on loan at Newcastle United but he has made it clear to Magpies' gaffer manager Alan Pardew that he wants to play in the Champions League, which is why he won't be staying on Tyneside. The Express says that Wenger has been in touch with Remy's former club in France, Marseille, to seek a "character reference" for the 27-year-old with a colourful background. The Express quotes a Marseille insider as saying: "Arsene rang our chairman. He seemed to be more interested in what kind of person Loic is. He didn't give any trouble in the three years he was here."
Elsewhere and the International Business Times says Chelsea "are looking to steal a march on Arsenal" with a cheeky move for Paris Saint-Germain striker Ezequiel Lavezzi. It seems that Arsenal were lining up a £15m bid to sign the Argentine frontman, only for Chelsea to make a formal approach for the 29-year-old frontman. IBT claims that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been tailing Lavezzi for months and will get his man after "shelling out £18m to the Parisian club". Apparently PSG and Chelsea are the best of friends in the aftermath of David Luiz's transfer to the French champions earlier in the month.
Finally, the Sunday People claims that new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal wants to make "Dutch World Cup villain Nigel de Jong" a Red Devil. The paper says that van Gaal, currently in charge of the Holland national at the World Cup, has told United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward to "pursue a £6m deal" for the AC Milan midfield hardman, despite the fact De Jong enjoyed a fruitful career at Manchester City. The 29-year-old De Jong joined Milan in the summer of 2012 after helping the Sky Blues to their first league title win in 44 years.
The People says that van Gaal doesn't give a stuff about Mancunian rivalries and sees De Jong as the sort of player to add some steel and stamina to United's flaky midfield.