Roma set to take Clint Dempsey from under Arsenal's nose
Gunners also face competition for the hand of Luis Muriel, 'the Colombian Cristiana Ronaldo'
THERE are more reasons for Arsenal fans to look anxious ahead of Saturday's do-or-die clash with Chelsea. Not only must the Gunners beat the Blues, conquerors of Barcelona on Wednesday night, to maintain their grip on third spot, but the north London club are on the brink of being beaten to the hand of Fulham hotshot Clint Dempsey.
According to The Sun, the American goalscoring midfielder is a target for the Italian club Roma who will "test Fulham's resolve with a bid". The paper says that bid will be £7m, a sum Fulham are likely to accept as the 29-year-old Dempsey is out of contract at the end of 2013. Arsenal are apparently still keen on Dempsey but manager Arsene Wenger has yet to turn the interest into intent.
Four clubs are on the tail of Luis Muriel, the 21-year-old Colombian striker with a scoring touch, including Arsenal and Manchester United. According to Talksport, the Premier League pair have been keeping tabs on Muriel after the youngster began impressing for Italian Serie B side Lecce where he is on loan from Udinese.
Dubbed "the Colombian Cristiano Ronaldo", Muriel comes with an £8m price tag and is expected to make his international debut this year. However Talksport warns Arsenal and United that they aren't the only ones pursuing Muriel. CSKA Moscow are apparently preparing to make a summer offer while Juventus have also sent scouts to run the rule over him.
It's not often that Blackburn Rovers find themselves the centre of attention in the transfer market but that appears to be the case right now thanks to midfielder Steven N'Zonzi.
The Metro says that Arsenal, Chelsea and rich Russians Anzhi Makhachkala are all vying to sign the 23-year-old Frenchman who arrived at Ewood Park in 2009. With Rovers staring relegation in the face, N'Zonzi is apparently weighing up his options.
The Metro claims Anzhi are prepared to offer the playmaker a "whopping pay packet" if he joins former Rovers team-mate Chris Samba, just one of several big names to make the move east in the past 12 months as the Russians have forked out nearly £300m in an attempt to become a powerhouse in European football.
Despite the interest from Anzhi, however, N'Zonzi hasn't ruled out the possibility of staying in England and joining either Arsenal or Chelsea. Both clubs have made overtures to the France Under-21 international and the final decision will be made by N'Zonzi in June.
On the other side of the Channel, Joe Cole has declared his wish to remain with Lille as his year-long loan deal draws to a close. The former England midfielder joined the French champions in August from Liverpool and things have worked out better than expected for the 30-year-old. In an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe, Cole said: "I would like to stay here, but it's still too early to say what will happen. Let's see how we finish the season."
He then admitted that his future lay in hands other than his own. "It's not all up to me where I will end up. The board makes the final decision. I have not spoken to anyone from Liverpool yet."
Finally, Portuguese rag Record says that Manchester United may use midfielder Anderson as bait in their bid to sign Nicolas Gaitan from Benfica.
The Red Devils have been after the Argentine winger for months and, according to Record, Benfica have told United that they may be prepared to trade if they throw Anderson into the mix. That looks likely as the Brazilian playmaker has never really sparked in the five years he's spent at Old Trafford. ·