Arsenal braced for Sagna exit, Wenger eyes another keeper
The old problems of out of contract players and goalkeepers still haunt Gunners
SOME things may have changed at Arsenal - they are winning games and sit atop the Premier League, for example - but the old problems that have plagued the Emirates in recent seasons have not entirely gone away.
Exhibit A is a veteran player who can't agree a new contract and is set to quit the club for free in the summer. The Daily Mail reveals that Bacary Sagna walk out of the Emirates for the final time at end of the season when his contract expires and move to France or Turkey, although there is a chance he could follow the well-worn path to Manchester City.
Rumours that the French full back wanted out have been circulating for what seems like years, but this time it is happening. The 30-year-old Frenchman knows that he only has one major contact left in him, and the Mail explains that leaving Arsenal on a free transfer offers him the best prospect of a hefty pay day.
"The defender has rejected lucrative overtures from Real Madrid and Manchester City in recent seasons, yet Arsenal have not been forthcoming with a new pay deal," explains the paper.
Exhibit B is a lack of faith in the goalkeeping skills of Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish stopper has failed to convince Arsene Wenger that he is the man to guide the Gunners back to the glory-days. And Wenger, like almost everyone in north London and beyond, has even less trust in his deputy Lukasz Fabianski.
Wenger spent most of the summer being linked to any available goalie in Europe, but now Caughtoffisde has identified one keeper who had slipped through the net, as it were - Brad Guzan of Aston Villa.
So impressive have his performances been that Wenger has dispatched scouts to Villa Park on more than one occasion this season to watch Guzan in action with a view to making a move for the American in the new year.
Further up the field and a player already linked to the Gunners may have dropped a hint about his future. Man United striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez told the media in Mexico that he was hoping for "more opportunities" at Old Trafford. The Daily Mail speculates that if they are not forthcoming then he may decide to look elsewhere.
Given Wenger's renewed interest in goalkeepers and the rumours about Chicharito it's hard to know which is more wacky right now - Harry Redknapp's autobiography or Arsenal's wish list. True, Arsene Wenger has never hidden 30 grand in his tracksuit but he might be about to offer Lazio stacks of cash for Brazilian playmaker Hernanes.
According to Talksport, Arsenal and Tottenham are both interested in signing the 28-year-old Hernanes as are Italian outfit Napoli. Whether the South American sorcerer will be interested in Napoli after their sorry spanking by Arsenal in last week's Champions League remains to be seen, and the same could be said for Tottenham whose season is in danger of unravelling after their abject surrender to West Ham on Sunday.
That leaves just Arsenal, unbeaten in their last 11 games, although first they'll have to persuade Hernanes to leave Lazio. In an interview with Italian rag Gazzetta dello Sport Hernanes refused to be drawn on whether he'll pledge his future to Lazio, saying only: "We'll see about a contract extension."
Still with the Gunners and the Daily Star claims that they, together with the two Manchester clubs might have overcome interest from AC Milan in their quest to sign Adil Rami. The paper says that Valencia want to offload the 27-year-old defender in the new year after the criticised the club over the summer sale of Roberto Soldado and Alberto Costa.
In recent weeks Rami has been linked with the Premier League as rumours emerged alleging the player had the hump at being hit with a ten-day ban for his comments. The Spanish club were said to favour a loan deal for the French international but the Star says Milan are cautiously optimistic of completing a loan deal for Rami in January which could be made permanent in the summer in a £10m transfer. Napoli have already turned down the chance of signing the bolshy blocker but Arsenal, City and United are all said to be interested in the former Lille star.
Meanwhile Tribal Football carries comments from Barcelona president Sandro Rosell suggesting the Catalans are still in the hunt for Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian gloveman joined Chelsea in 2011 but is currently on loan Atletico Madrid. His form there has caught the eyes of Rosell with Barca known to be searching for a long-term replacement for Victor Valdes. "He's a great goalie and I like him," said Rosell of the 21-year-old Courtois. "I met him once at a restaurant in Madrid and we got along well."
Finally, Caughtoffside claims that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is preparing a £15m January Swoop for Young Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke. The 21-year-old Spaniard comes highly recommended by the Reds' scouts and Rodgers believes he's the type of goal-scoring playmaker his side needs.
True, the Spanish international is tied to Madrid until 2018, but it's well known that a football contract is like Harry's autobiography - laughable. ·