Arsenal target Wickham: I’m not going anywhere
Transfer Talk: Teenage sensation wants to stay at Ipswich; Stefan de Vrij snubs Gunners too
It's the news no Arsenal fan wants to hear, and we're not talking about a contract extension for Manuel Almunia. Rather, wonderkid Connor Wickham has declared he has no intention of leaving Ipswich for the Gunners in the near future.
The 17-year-old striker (above), rated one of the most promising young players in English football, has been coveted by Arsenal ever since he impressed against them in January's Carling Cup semi-final. But Wickham says he wants to fine-tune his game at Portman Road.
"To be that highly-rated is amazing, but all I can do is keep working hard on my football," he said. "I am signed to Ipswich for the next few years, and I am concentrating on that."
Wickham, who stands 6ft 3in, was recently named the Football League young player of the year for 2010-2011 but he shows no sign of letting the attention go to his head. "I want to work hard for Ipswich and get them to the Premier League," he explained. "Hopefully we can do that."
The Metro claims that Arsenal would be prepared to give Ipswich £10m in return for Wickham but apparently manager Paul Jewell is determined to hold on to the teenager. As for Wickham, he appears unfazed by the attention lavished on him by Arsenal, saying: "To play football for England, and to win the awards I am winning, shows I have the right people around me - I am taking all the advice on board and using it to my advantage."
And it seems that Wickham isn't the only up-and-coming player reluctant to join Arsenal now that they've cultivated a reputation as a side of spineless losers.
The Gunners had been on the tail of Dutch sensation Stefan de Vrij, but Spanish website Intergoles report that the 19-year-old centre-back has revealed he'd rather join Barcelona than Arsenal seeing how the Gunners wouldn't know success if it nipped in behind their back four and nutmegged Manuel Almunia.
The 19-year-old de Vrij is currently with Feyenoord but he's expected to be sold by the Rotterdam club in the summer and while Arsenal had been hoping to secure his signature they now need to think again: "I dream of playing for Barcelona," de Vrij told Intergoles. "In the future I would love to play there. The best thing would be to go to Spain or Germany - the football is more elaborate there than in the Premier League."
The race is hotting up to sign Marseille defender Taye Taiwo. Liverpool and Aston Villa had both been courting the 25-year-old Nigerian - along with once great Italian club Juventus - but now Talksport claim he will sign for Benfica. The full-back has been a mainstay of the Marseille side in recent seasons, as well as appearing regularly for Nigeria, but Taiwo has decided it's time for a change of scenery and for reasons known only to himself he's decided the bracing air of Portugal will be just the ticket.
Finally, the German press reckon Andreas Ottl will swap Bayern Munich for Bolton Wanderers in the summer, a somewhat strange decision for the 26-year-old midfielder who has been with the Bundesliga side since 2005.
Apparently Ottl has been chased by several continental clubs but he's rather smitten with the north-west of England and has been wooed by Bolton boss Owen Coyle's pledge that the Trotters are going places. Didn't Del Boy used to say the same thing... ·