Chelsea to sign Lukaku, Arsenal want Benzema

Romelu Lukaku

Transfer Talk: Chelsea are favourites to sign the Belgian forward, plus Gregory van der Wiel

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 13:04 ON Thu 28 Apr 2011

Chelsea appear to be gearing up for a summer spending spree after a season of relative failure, and top of the Blues shopping list is striker Romelu Lukaku, a teenager dubbed the 'new Didier Drogba' currently plying his trade with Anderlecht in the Belgian league.

Lukaku has also been a target for Barcelona, but according to the Sun he is destined for west London after the Spanish giants turned their attentions to Villareal striker Giuseppe Rossi. Arsenal are also believed to be sniffing around but apparently it is Chelsea who have the upper hand, as well as a cheque for £18m at the ready.

The arrival of the new Drogba will not herald the departure of the old one. Instead Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda will be the forward players departing Stamford Bridge, if you believe the Mirror. The Sun also suggests that Lukaku will not face any competition from Daniel Sturridge, who it says is keen to make his loan move to Bolton permanent.

Chelsea are also looking to bolster their backline and could welcome Holland full-back Gregory van der Wiel to the fold. The Ajax defender was a Bayern Muunich target, but they have decided against a move leaving the way open for Chelsea. He would cost around £9m says the Guardian.

The players on the way out at the back include Paulo Ferreira, Jose Bosingwa and Yuri Zhirkov, meaning that he would only have Branislav Ivanovic as competition for the right-back berth.

Meanwhile Liverpool have identified Newcastle bad boy Joey Barton as the man to lead their title challenge next season. Barton rates himself as the best English midfielder in the Premier League, but he would only cost Liverpool £5m according to the Mail. The paper says Reds boss Kenny Dalglish believes he would link up well with former Magpies striker Andy Carroll.

The day's most perplexing rumour comes from the website CaughtOffside, which suggests that Arsenal's new big-spending era could kick off with the purchase of Karim Benzema from Real Madrid for £22.5m.

With the Gunners rearguard desperately in need of bolstering, Arsene Wenger apparently wants to offer Robin van Persie some support up front, even though he already has Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh kicking their heels on the bench, and could move for the French forward.

Time is running out for Lyon and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to decide where he wants to play his football next season. The 24-year-old gloveman, rated one of the best in the business, has allegedly been flirting with a number of Premier League clubs in recent weeks.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been linked with the French international in the hope of solving their goalkeeping conundrum and earlier in the month it appeared a move to England was on the cards when Lloris allegedly became involved in a public spat with teammates. But now it seems Lyon have had a change of heart and will do their utmost to hang on to Lloris in the face of the English Premier League predators.

Speaking to French radio station RMC, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas declared his determination to offer Lloris a deal he can't refuse. "I met with Hugo to inform him that the club were prepared to renew his contract," said Aulas. "He deserves to get a better contract and in the coming days we will sit down to deal with it directly."

Though the chances of United making a bid for Lloris are remote (they're believed to be eyeing up David de Gea of Atletico Madrid), Arsenal are rumoured to be desperate to bring Lloris to the Emirates after a season of goalkeeping gaffes. Liverpool, meanwhile, are resigned to losing Pepe Reina next month and are in search of a world-class replacement.

World-class is one way to describe Brazilian striker Neymar, a long-time target of Chelsea's, but it appears the 19-year-old might not be bound for Stamford Bridge after all. Italian rag Il Messaggero claims that Neymar is coveted by Roma with new owner Thomas DiBenedetto keen to impress fans by making a big-name signing in the summer. Currently with Santos, Neymar has spent much of the season signing the praises of the Blues but Il Messaggero claims he'll move to Roma if the club agree to pay Santos £30m for his services.

One player who won't be going anywhere in the summer is Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric. Arguably the Lilywhites' player of the season, the crafty Croatian has been linked with Inter Milan in recent weeks, but that's as absurd as an Arsenal title challenge according to the player's agent.

"I have read somewhere that an Italian club has been given permission to speak to Luka but that is not correct," said Nikki Arthur Vuksan, who called the rumours "nonsense." He added: "Luka has a contract until 2016 which he recently signed. He intends to see out that contract and does not want to leave Spurs. If someone comes in for him one day and Spurs decide to accept the offer then that is up to them but Luka is very happy at Spurs."

Italian website TMW has some news that might set tongues wagging on Merseyside. They reckon that Liverpool are poised to make an offer for Napoli frontman Ezequiel Lavezzi with the Reds believing the Argentine could work well with Andy Carroll. "Lavezzi has been followed by Liverpool for 12 months and they could make a bid for his services," said the player's representative Jose Alberti. "Napoli must be careful not to lose a player like Lavezzi."

A cynic might accuse Alberti of using Liverpool as a bargaining chip with the Italian club but Transfer Talk refuses to believe an agent would stoop so low.

Finally, Liverpool are one of the clubs apparently interested in signing Roma winger Jeremy Menez. The 23-year-old Frenchman, who made his international debut last year, is believed to be on the brink of leaving Roma and Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been mooted as possible destinations.

Intriguingly, Menez's agent is Christophe Mongai, who also looks after the interests of Arsenal fullback Bacary Sagna. While Mongai wouldn't be drawn on whether the Emirates was Menez's dream, he did tell website calciomercato.it: "To make the most of his qualities, Jeremy needs to play in another league next season. The best decision for him would be to leave Italy." · 

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