Arsenal chase Gonalons and Ogbonna to shore up defence

Maxime Gonalons 210213

Gunners scout French midfielder and Italian back, and open talks with Barcelona over Villa and Valdes

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 07:33 ON Thu 21 Feb 2013

SCOUTS from Arsenal will be in France tonight to cast an inquisitive eye over Lyon's Maxime Gonalons as he attempts to help his club beat Tottenham in the Europa League.

According to the Daily Mail, the Gunners first ran the rule over the 23-year-old French international last Sunday, when Lyon beat Bordeaux in a league clash. Having liked what they saw of Gonalons (above), who stands a strapping 6ft 2in tall, Arsenal will see how he fares against the Lilywhites tonight as Lyon try to overturn the 2-1 deficit from the first leg of their European tie.

And he's not the only youngster in Wenger's sights. The same paper says the Gunners are also interested in Torino's young centre-back Angelo Ogbonna, who was part of the Italy squad at Euro 2012. However, they will face competition from champions-elect Manchester United who have also sent scouts to run the rule over the defnder.

Another player being chased by both those sides is Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes. And according to Talksport, who know about these things, the Gunners have already opened negotiations with the Catalan giants about a double swoop for Valdes and striker David Villa. The pair, who are both the wrong side of 30, will not come cheap and the Gunners will have to fork out £22m to land them both.

That asking price shouldn't be a problem, though. It has been widely reported that Wenger has a transfer kitty of £70m and the Daily Mail (again) says he has been given carte blanche by Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke to use it as he wishes, after the pair met this week and Wenger was told that his job was safe for now.

Indeed the paper hints that Wenger could have even more money up his sleeve in the summer, slyly noting that Arsenal have £150m in the bank. It also goes through the long list of players linked to the Gunners in recent weeks, including strikers Stevan Jovetic and Mario Gotze and Celtic star Victor Wanyama.

Having demolished Arsenal on Tuesday, German giants Bayern Munich are now looking to do damage to another once great English club. According to Caughtoffside.com, Bayern will launch a £40 million bid this summer for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Even though the Bundesliga leaders have skilled frontmen coming out of their ears, coach elect Pep Guardiola is said to be a fan of Suarez despite his troublesome reputation.

The 25-year-old Uruguayan has been in sparkling form for the Reds this season – despite Liverpool's lacklustre displays – and his 23 goals have caught the eye of Guardiola. Citing Italian rag La Stampa as its source, Caughtoffside reports that the former Barcelona coach intends to make Suarez his first signing of the summer when he takes over from Jupp Heynckes in the Bayern hotseat.

Talksport reports that Ecuador defender Frickson Erazo is being courted by Manchester United. That at least is what the 24-year-old claims, though he's quick to add he is "focusing on his football at Barcelona".

Last week stories emerged alleging that the 24-year-old's agent had met with a scout from the Premier League leaders. Be that as it may, Erazo says right now he wants to do the business for Barcelona, the club he joined last year from El Nacional. "It's true that there was initial contact," admitted Erazo. "It's really flattering that big European clubs are watching football in my country, but if you think about playing with Real Madrid or Manchester United you risk losing concentration."

Goal.com claims that 21-year-old Neymar is edging closer to a sensational move to Manchester City. Speculation has been rife in recent months that the Brazilian frontman was on his way to Barcelona next season but apparently City are "increasingly confident" that they can outbid the Spanish giants.

That will take £50 million, but so desperate are the Sky Blues to reassert their dominance over Manchester United that the club's owners will authorise the monumental bid. It's alleged that City directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain held talks with Neymar's representatives earlier in the month at Wembley, the night England beat Brazil in a friendly.

According to Goal.com, that was the second time in six weeks that City have broached the subject with Neymar of a summer move to the Etihad. The first time was in December when Begiristain jetted off to Sao Paulo to discuss terms with Santos.

Finally, the Daily Mirror claims that Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria is being touted around Europe as the Spanish outfit look to trim their wage bill. Among the clubs thought to be interested in the Argentine ace are Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea are also said to be enquiring about the player who joined Madrid in a £30m deal from Benfica in 2010. Things haven't really worked out for the 25-year-old and the Mirror says the club will look to offload di Maria for a similar fee in the summer. · 

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