Arsenal fight for David Villa as Man City chase Barcelona star

If Manchester City do land Villa, it will be a blow to Arsenal who were told by Barcelona to back off

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 07:25 ON Wed 30 Jan 2013

BYE-BYE Bonkers Balotelli! Yes, Manchester City have finally got shot of madcap maverick striker Mario Balotelli after a turbulent two-and-a-half years at the Etihad.

The player was today undergoing a medical at AC Milan after City accepted a £17m offer from the Italian giants with the fee likely to rise to £19.5m once adds-on have been factored into the equation. That still represents a loss of nearly £3m for City, who bought Balotelli in August 2010. 

All the papers carry news of the deal but the Daily Mirror is the one who fingers his likely replacement - none other than Barcelona frontman David Villa. The news will come as a blow to Arsenal fans who had been hoping Villa was on his way to the Emirates.

According to the Mirror, City have already established contact with Barcelona "with a view to rushing through a deal" before Thursday night's transfer deadline.

Arsenal have tried repeatedly to prise the 31-year-old Villa from the Camp Nou and only yesterday Arsene Wenger suggested that he had given up the fight, saying: "The speculation doesn't go away but Barcelona don't want to sell David Villa. They have made that very very clear."

But despite Wenger's admission of defeat in the battle for Villa, the papers refuse to believe that Arsenal are not still interested, and The Times insists that the Gunners had "tested the resolve of Barcelona" by bidding £8m for the player.

That £8m won't provide much of a test however, as the Mirror says Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, respectively City's chief executive and sporting director, will seek to exploit their strong connections at Barca and persuade the club to sell him for £15m. Failing that, City will suggest they take Villa on loan for the rest of the season while they line up a top-notch striker for the summer.

In more shocking news for Arsenal fans, yet another player has followed in the footsteps of Wilfried Zaha, Lewis Holtby and Fernando Llorente by opting against a move to the Emirates. This time the man in question is 20-year-old Florian Thauvin who has also rejected the overtures of Newcastle and has elected to join Lille.

According to Sky Sports he preferred the "beautiful project" on offer in France to the delights of London or Tyneside.

Meanwhile City are also considering making a move for FC Twente winger Nacer Chadli. The Metro says that City manager Roberto Mancini believes Chadli would inject some much needed "attacking impetus into his side" and is prepared to offer the Dutch club £7m for the youngster.

The Belgian Chadli has caught the eye of Newcastle and Everton in recent months but Twente have until now been reluctant to sell the 23-year-old. But the Metro says Chadli is tempted by the thought of playing for the Sky Blues and he could "force the switch" regardless of Twente's wishes.

The Metro adds that if City do agree terms with Twente before Thursday night's deadline then they are likely to loan Scott Sinclair back to Swansea, the club he left last summer when he imprudently decided the grass was greener in Manchester.

In other news the Evening Standard claims Chelsea have submitted "an official approach" for Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland and are quietly confident they will land the 19-year-old gloveman this week.

Chelsea's regular keeper, Petr Cech, is currently nursing a calf injury and boss Rafa Benitez believes Butland is a good bet to fill the gap in the short-term, as well as further down the line when Cech decides to call it a day. Butland made his England debut against Italy earlier this season and is rated one of the country's top talents between the posts.

Still with Chelsea and Talksport reports that Chelsea are back in the hunt for Corinthians midfielder Paulinho. It was thought the 24-year-old was bound for Inter Milan but the Italian club have just conceded it "would be difficult" to sign him this month despite freeing up space in their squad by flogging Wesley Sneijder to Galatasaray.

That's given Chelsea renewed hope, says Talksport, adding that the Blues have been on the tail of Paulinho since he starred for Corinthians in their 1-0 win over Chelsea in last month's FIFA Club World Cup final. · 

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