Arsenal fight to sign defenders Vertonghen and Dragovic
Gunners face competition for stoppers. Fulham and Newcastle hope to lure Raul to England
ARSENAL'S plans to bolster their defence with Ajax stopper Jan Vertonghen appear to have been thrown into doubt after reports that Spurs were about to muscle in on the deal. According to Der Telegraaf in Holland, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who is free to plan for the future now that his dream of managing England has been dashed, wants to bring Vertonghen, who has also been linked to Newcastle and Chelsea, to White Hart Lane.
If the Gunners fail to land Vertonghen then another of their summer targets is Basel's Aleksandar Dragovic. But it's not just at Heathrow passport control where lengthy queues are forming, according to the young defender.
In an interview with Austrian rag Kurier, the 21-year-old claims that seven clubs are lining up to sign him when next month's summer transfer window opens.
These include Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Marseille as well two clubs from Russia, which Dragovic declined to name. He did, however, insist Barcelona wasn't one of the seven clubs on the list.
"There are seven teams interested, two of which are from Russia," confirmed the Austrian international, who then laid out his demands for any interested party: "If a club wants me, they'll have to put a bit of money on the table," said the impertinent Austrian, adding: "The club must at least be represented in the Europa League. For with Basel I have the chance to play in the Champions League."
It's believed that Arsenal scouts have watched the strapping six footer in action for Basel in recent weeks and manager Arsene Wenger is mulling over a summer move for Dragovic.
The same was said recently of Lucas Biglia, but according to Spanish daily Marca the Gunners may have lost out to Real Madrid.
Liverpool were also interested in the 26-year-old Biglia, a stalwart for Anderlecht this season, but Marca claims the defensive midfielder is keen to move from Holland to the Bernabeu. "My dream is to play in Spain," said the Argentine, adding: "It is the best in the world, by country and by language." Eh? Has he seen the state of their economy?
To other news and it's not just the Turner Prize shortlist that is bullshit. According to Real Madrid striker Jese Rodriguez, so are the rumours linking him with a move to the Emirates. The 19-year-old winger was reportedly unhappy with his lack of game time at Real but the teenager has rubbished speculation he could be on his way to Arsenal, saying of the stories: "I know nothing. I just work and work. But I'd like to stay here. Not a year, but ten."
Elsewhere and while Chelsea have made it through to the final of the Champions League they appear to be on the brink of losing out to Paris Saint Germain in the race to sign Porto striker Hulk. Talksport reports that the French club are "prepared to go close to the staggering £80m release clause" in the Hulk's contract after coach Carlo Ancelotti was told by the club's Qatar owners to bolster his strikeforce. Chelsea have been tailing the Hulk for months but the Blues may not be too upset at missing out now that Fernando Torres has got his touch back.
The Premier League could be home to a legend of Spanish football next season. No, it's not Pep Guardiola, Lionel Messi or even Carles Puyol, but ageing former Real Madrid striker Raul. The 34-year-old is leaving Schalke at the end of the season after two seasons in Germany and, according to TalkSport, has emerged as a target for Fulham and Newcastle, who, it seems, are both in need of a geriatric striker.
Raul, however, has said that he does not want to play in another European league and is likely to reject the charms of the Thames and the Tyne for the bright lights, warm climate and wealth of Qatar.
Finally, the Daily Mail reports that one of the Premier League's hottest properties is playing hard to get. Wigan winger Victor Moses has been at the fore of the Latics' recent revival, which has included wins over Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle, and apparently the success has given him a greater sense of his own worth.
Despite being offered a new contract "in the region of £15,000-per-week plus a number of performance related bonuses" Moses is refusing to sign. Liverpool and Sunderland have both been linked to the Nimble Nigerian and the Mail says Moses will weigh up his options during the summer.
For their part Wigan are aware that he has only one year remaining on his contract and will sell Moses in the summer if there's any chance he might leave 12 months later on a free transfer.