Arsenal to land Giroud and pinch Vertonghen from Spurs?
Arsene Wenger prepared to offer Marouane Chamakh to Montpelier in return for Giroud
'COMPLETELY bonkers' is the only way to describe the news from France, and no we're not talking about Leos Carax's latest film. Rather, it's the extraordinary disclosure that Arsenal are to offer Montpellier "£6.4m plus Marouane Chamakh" for Olivier Giroud.
The 25-year-old Giroud is the talk of the town following his goalscoring exploits for Montpellier last season. His 21 goals in 36 matches secured the Mediterranean club their inaugural French title and now Arsenal have come calling. According to the Metro, the Gunners are competing with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Newcastle for the services of the Montpellier marksman, and their hopes of success have improved after Bayern Munich "dropped their fleeting interest".
Quoting French broadcaster RMC, the Metro claims that Giroud - currently contracted to Montpellier until 2014 - could be available for the bargain price of £12.8m. However, this still isn't cheap enough for Arsene Wenger and apparently the Nutty Professor will live up to his nickname by offering Montpellier £6m PLUS Marouane Chamakh, who the Metro describes as a "ready-made replacement" for Giroud. The one difference being Giroud scores goals and Chamakh smokes shisha pipes.
But it appears that any proposed deal won't be concluded until after Euro 2012, a tournament in which Giroud is likely to score against England when the two sides meet on 11 June. The Metro says that the striker has been advised by his agent to focus fully on the championships and sit down with Arsenal in July.
The Guardian reports that Jan Vertonghen's long-awaited move to Spurs is on the verge of being completed after Spurs made an offer of £9.6m for the defender, who has expressed a preference to play in the Europa League with Spurs rather than the Champions League with local rivals Arsenal. His club, Ajax, though are hoping to prise another £2.5m out of Harry Redknapp.
And that brings us to today's outlandish Arsenal rumour in the Daily Star. Yesterday the paper insisted that the Gunners were about to steal Eden Hazard from under the noses of Manchester City, United and Chelsea and today the rag has come up with something just as far fetched as it announces that self-confessed Spurs nut Vertonghen could decide to abandon his White Hart Lane dream and head for the Emirates instead.
"I've said repeatedly that Tottenham are my first choice, but the talks haven't progressed," he apparently told the paper. "But Arsenal want me too. They remain a possibility if my Spurs move falls through." Right-ho.
Staying with London clubs and QPR believe they have found the man to replace punchy Twitter philosopher Joey Barton in their midfield, in the form of Spurs injury-magnet Jermaine Jenas (remember him?). The Hoops are hoping to get shot of Barton by selling him or simply terminating his contract, and hope that the rather more mild mannered Jenas will fill the void on the pitch, if not off it.
The Times says that although Jenas extedned his contract at Spurs in March that was just to ensure that the club gets a fee for the player when he leaves. The paper adds that if QPR boss Mark Hughes fancies another challenge, he could be tempted by his former Manchester City charge Nigel de Jong, who has an on-field reputation almost as dodgy as Barton's.
Meanwhile, Talksport reports that Arsenal and Manchester United are both competing for the services of Crewe midfielder Nick Powell.
Rumours began circulating at the weekend to the effect that United had made a £4m offer for the 18-year-old but they've turned out to be wide of the mark.
While it's true that Arsenal and United have sent scouts to watch Powell in action, Crewe manager Steve Davis told Talksport that neither club has made an official bid for the England Under-18 international. "At the moment it's just speculation," he said. "There has been no solid offer from anybody… Maybe next week we'll know a little bit more."
In other news, Brazilian broadcaster Lancenet claims that the competition is hotting up for Porto striker Hulk with Chelsea the frontrunners. The Brazil international has an "eye-watering €100million release clause in his contract", according to Sky Sports who then report a conversation between Lancenet and Hulk's agent. Apparently Teodoro Fonseca said that "no offer has been made yet, there is interest but it has not gone beyond that yet".
Fonseca said he would open negotiations next week. Pressed on who were the interested parties in Hulk he replied: "There are four other English teams interested in signing him, besides Chelsea… He dreams of winning [the Champions League] and establishing himself at the national team. In order to achieve that, he has to jump to a more competitive league. We admire the Premier League."
Finally winger Florent Malouda has stated his desire to remain with Chelsea next season. The French international, who arrived at the Bridge in 2007, hasn't featured as much this season under Roberto Di Matteo as in previous campaigns, but asked by Fifa.com if he still saw himself with the Blues next season he replied: "Yes, and Chelsea know it." And he dismissed rumours he was unhappy with his bit part role this season, saying: "You have to accept it. I finished the previous campaign as Chelsea's leading scorer in the league and I started the next season on the bench."