Arsenal bag Lukas Podolski, now for Jan Vertonghen
Gunners target Vertonghen, Yann M'Vila or Etienne Capoue, Spurs want Hazard swap deal
ARSENAL fans are celebrating today after the club finally announced they had bagged German international striker Lukas Podolski from FC Cologne. Revealing on their website that the 26-year-old Podolski has signed a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee, Arsenal added that the Polish-born frontman will arrive at the Emirates after Euro 2012.
Although the Gunners were coy about the exact amount of cash handed over to Cologne, it's believed to be in the region of £10.5m, a tidy sum for a player who has scored 43 goals in 95 appearances for Germany. "We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas and see him as an important part of our future," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, adding: "He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options."
Podolski was similarly chuffed, telling the Gunners website he is "proud to become an Arsenal player and looking forward to playing my first match at Emirates Stadium and doing my best for all the Arsenal fans".
And might Podolski be joined at Arsenal next season by Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen? The Daily Mail reports that the Gunners have "stepped up their pursuit" of Vertonghen after opening up talks with Ajax. Emboldened by their belief that they will finish third in the Premier League, Arsenal are said to be confident of securing the services of the Belgian international for as little as £7m.
And there's more. Arsene Wenger is also said to be keen on Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue. Talksport claim that the Gunners are trailing the 23-year-old defensive midfielder as a fallback if they fail to land Yann M'Vila. M'Vila is known to be top of Wenger's midfield options but if Rennes decide not to sell the French international then the Arsenal chief will reportedly make a £10m bid for Capoue, a star of the France Under-21 side who is apparently eager to test himself in England.
So, allegedly, is Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa who has made a "come and get me" plea to one of Arsenal and Manchester United, presumably in the hope he can be flown in on a private jet and avoid the lengthy immigration queues at Heathrow airport.
Yanga-Mbiwa made his declaration during an interview with French broadcaster Canal+, saying: "To play for Manchester United would be a great satisfaction and a dream which could become reality." He added, rather less enthusiastically: "Arsenal also is a big team." The 22-year-old Yanga-Mbiwa has captained Montpellier to the brink of qualification to next season's Champions League and is tipped to go to Euro 2012 with the French squad.
It's all go elsewhere in north London too, as Harry Redknapp faces up to the fact that he has been overlooked for the England job. Apparently 'Arry has decided that if he is going to have to stay at White Hart Lane he wants Eden Hazard for company, and according to the Daily Mail he is prepared to offer little-used playmaker Giovani Dos Santos as bait in a cash plus player offer.
The prospect of Arjen Robben leaving Bayern Munich for the Premier League has strengthened after Bayern president Uli Hoeness admitted to German rag Suddeutsche Zeitung that he doesn't known the plans of the Dutch winger. "I don't know exactly what the status is," Hoeness said, adding: "I just know that he was close to signing and that it has been delayed somewhat."
Robben's old club Chelsea are believed to have expressed an interest in re-signing the 28-year-old Dutchman, while Manchester City and Liverpool have also been mentioned as possible destinations. Up until a fortnight ago it seemed likely that Robben would extend his stay with the Champions League finalists but that was before an alleged dressing-room dust up between Robben and teammate Franck Ribery during the first leg of Bayern's Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid. Robben was left with a bruised face after the alleged clash and the Dutchman is said to be furious at the Frenchman's fisticuffs.