Blow to Wenger as Germans rule out Mario Gotze move
And another Arsenal target, Esteban Granero, looks doubtful too as super-rich Malaga step in
THE MESSAGE coming out of Borussia Dortmund is clear – verboten! According to Talksport, Arsenal have as much chance of getting their hands on Mario Gotze this month as the Gunners defence has of going 90 minutes without gifting a goal to the opposition.
The unwelcome news will come as a blow to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who has been chasing the 19-year-old playmaker for months.
Gotze first caught Wenger's eye last season and he again impressed during Arsenal's home and away clashes with the Bundesliga outfit in this season's Champions League pool. But Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has issued an unequivocal message to the Gunners, telling them: "We have agreed with Mario that he plays next season in Dortmund."
Gotze, who won the 2011 Golden Boy award for the best Under 21 player in Europe, is contracted to Dortmund until 2014 but Zorc didn't completely rule out a move: "If tomorrow someone offers one billion euros, then you should think about it."
So with Gotze seemingly off Wenger's wish list, who might be the next target for the nutty professor? The Metro says that Arsenal are gunning for Real Madrid winger Esteban Granero but they face competition from newly-minted Malaga and Blackburn Rovers.
While Blackburn have as much chance of landing a big name player as Arsenal have of forking out a billion euros for Mario Gotze, Malaga's interest in the 24-year-old Granero could spell trouble for the Gunners. The Spanish outfit were taken over last year by a Qatar consortium and apparently they would happily pay the winger his weekly wage demand of £70,000.
Still with Arsenal and Italian rag Gazzetta dello Sport claims that the Gunners are in a three-way race with Chelsea and Paris Saint German for the services of Alexandre Pato. The AC Milan striker has been on PSG's radar for a while and apparently his agent is in Dubai this week to discuss a possible deal with the French club, who are enjoying a training camp in the Gulf state.
There has been talk of PSG paying AC Milan €40m for the 22-year-old Brazilian but rumours suggest Pato doesn't think much of the French league and instead fancies a crack at the Premier League. Chelsea and Arsenal have both expressed an interest and it could come down to who can offer the most attractive package for the South American hitman.
Liverpool's hopes of landing PSV midfielder Kevin Strootman appear to have hit the buffers after the player's agent told Voetbal International that the Dutch midfielder will remain loyal to PSV for the rest of the season.
Liverpool and Bayern Munich have been monitoring the 21-year-old Strootman but agent Chiel Dekker declared: "Kevin will definitely finish the season at PSV... He has only been playing at this level for six months and it wouldn't be a wise decision to make the next step already."
Finally, as Manchester United's title aspirations dissolve quicker than the average New Year resolution The Sun says the Red Devils are weighing up a bid for Bolton defender Gary Cahill. The England man has been linked with a move to Chelsea but that appears to be in jeopardy after the Blues refused to guarantee regular football for the 26-year-old.
That's alerted United and boss Alex Ferguson is likely to be even keener following his side's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Newcastle on Wednesday night. The Sun claims that Cahill wants £100,000 a week and that might be acceptable to Fergie who has lost captain Nemanja Vidic for the season and has to deal with a declining Rio Ferdinand.