Fernando Llorente and Lucas Biglia hint at moves to Arsenal
Meanwhile, Manchester United sign Shinji Kagawa and Joe Cole set for Liverpool return
WITH THE Spanish economy performing as badly as Cheryl Cole at a Jubilee concert, has Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente finally decided the time has come to jump ship to England?
Only last week we informed you of rumours linking the 27-year-old with a shock move to Arsenal and now the player himself has hinted at such a deal. Goal.com reports that Llorente, currently preparing for the European Championships with Spain, was asked if he was thinking of moving to the Emirates. "I might end up playing in England, who knows,” he replied, quickly adding: "At the moment I'm at Athletic Bilbao, but who knows later.”
Llorente said that international teammates Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres "have told me about the immense respect that the fans have for their players there” (was Torres being ironic, we wonder?) and as a result he is warming to the idea of a fresh start in the world's most lucrative league. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Juventus have all been linked with Llorente in the past but Arsene Wenger – who is covering the European Championships for French television – is believed to be at the front of the queue.
Meanwhile Spanish rag AS reports that the Gunners have a fight on their hands to sign Montpellier marksman Olivier Giroud after Malaga muscled in on the scene.
The 25-year-old Frenchman, whose goals helped his club win their first French league title last season, is a favourite of Wenger's, but according to AS, Malaga see him as the man to replace Ruud van Nistelrooy, who retired at the end of the season. Since being bought by the Qatari royal family two years ago, Malaga have been up to their eyeballs in cash and have the financial clout to price the Gunners out of the market.
But one player who could be heading to the Emirates is Lucas Biglia. The Argentine midfielder a claims to have held talks with Arsenal about a possible move to north London this summer says Caught Offside.The 26-year-old has just captained Anderlecht to a second straight Belgian league title and is attracting interest from a host of top European sides. Biglia, who has won six caps for his country, still has three years to run on his deal with Anderlecht but a bid in the region of £8m could persuade them to part with their prize asset.
"Real Madrid and Arsenal have both been in contact," he said. "I am still under contract with Anderlecht until 2015 but they know that I plan to leave. If a club offers the right price, Anderlecht will let me go."
And in the final bit of news from Arsenal, there is no news on the elephant in the room, and it looks as though the Gunners are going to have to wait until after the European Championships to find out the fate of Robin Van Persie says The Sun. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says the striker is "is clearly focused on the Euros at the moment".
He said the two parties had agreed was to keep their discussions private, but he did have some news for Gooners. "We want to win the Premier League and compete to win the Champions League - that is our ambition," he announced. "Everything we do is geared towards that, it is very simple."
One deal all but done is that of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United. According to the BBC, the Red Devils have "agreed a deal reported to be worth an initial £12m”. The 23-year-old Japanese ace has yet to take a medical but provided he's in full working order (and can obtain a UK work permit) Kagawa will be confirmed as a United player in a couple of weeks. Kagawa, who scored 13 goals as Dortmund won a league and cup double last season, is currently playing for Japan in their World Cup qualifiers but his signing will be a massive boost for United in their attempt to dominate the Asian football market.
Still with United and Newcastle playmaker Yohan Cabaye has said he's been following the rumours doing the rounds suggesting he's on Alex Ferguson's summer shopping list. The 26-year-old Cabaye arrived at Tyneside last summer from Lille and was one of the stars of the Magpies as they finished fifth in the Premier League. As a result he's come to United's attention but in an interview with France Football the Frenchman said: "There are rumours. I am following it a little. But I have four years remaining on my contract with Newcastle.”
But with a pledge of loyalty from a footballer worth as much as a promise from George Osborne, does that mean Cabaye intends to honour his contract with Newcastle? "I don't want to know anything,” he said. "That is what agents are for." Spoken like a true pro.
The Mirror reports that Gylfi Sigurdsson has "offered the strongest hint yet” that he could join Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.
The Icelandic midfielder joined Swansea on loan last season and impressed the Welsh club so much he was offered a permanent deal last month. That was when Rodgers was still boss. Now that he's been appointed manager of Liverpool it's believed he wants Sigurdsson to join him at Anfield. According to the Mirror, Swansea are in the throes of tying up a £7m deal with Hoffenheim for Sigurdsson, but the player is now turning his thoughts towards the Reds. "It's just unclear at this moment where I will play,” Sigurdsson is quoted as saying. "After Brendan Rodgers left Swansea for Liverpool, that has changed the situation... I'd like to play on with Swansea, since I was really happy there, but now Liverpool is completely considered. Liverpool is a big club that has a glorious history.”
Talking of history, Joe Cole could be on his way back to Anfield. The 30-year-old has been on loan to Lille for the past year, where he has impressed, scoring four times in 27 appearances. But, according to Metro, the appointment of Brendan Rodgers strengthens Cole's chances of a return to the Reds. Cole and Rodgers worked together at Chelsea during their time at the club.
Chelsea may have a fight on their hands to sign Brazilian star Lucas Moura after Inter Milan voiced an interest says Talksport. Reports in Italian newspaper Corrierre dello Sport suggest Inter want the player at any cost and they have sent representatives to Sao Paulo to attempt to seal a deal. The news will be a big blow to Chelsea, who reportedly had a £32m bid for 19-year-old Moura turned down last month. Chelsea have since signed Eden Hazard from Lille for a fee of £32m but it is not thought that means they are out of the running for Moura, who could play alongside the Belgian star.
Finally, newly-promoted Southampton have had a £7million bid accepted by Burnley for former England U-21 striker Jay Rodriguez, who hit 21 goals in the Championship last season. Sunderland were also showing an interest and new Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is a long-time admirer of the 22-year-old. Talksport say that Rodriguez will sign a four-year deal with Nigel Adkins' side in the next 48 hours, subject to a successful medical. Rodriguez came through the youth ranks at Burnley and, since making his debut in 2007, has hit 41 goals in 128 appearances.