Arsenal chase Jordy Clasie, the 'new Xavi', and Ashley Williams
Gunners also look at midfield enforcer in shape of Nigel De Jong of AC Milan
WITH the Arsenal faithful as hacked off as the average Justin Bieber fan these days, the Gunners need to act fast to put a smile on their fans' faces – and that could come with the signing of Feyenoord midfielder Jordy Clasie this summer.
According to Talksport, Arsenal are determined to get the rising Dutch star, though they will have to fight off interest from both Tottenham and Italian outfit Fiorentina.
Clasie, just 21, has emerged as one of the finest young midfielders in Holland in the past 12 months and already has three caps to his name.
Described by some - notably his agent - as "the new Xavi", Clasie has excited interest among the European elite, while Arsenal are also said to have sent scouts to monitor his progress.
Apparently Fiorentina have already held "informal talks" with Clasie's agent, but Talksport says Arsenal hope the prospect of teaming up with Jack Wilshere could tempt the Dutchman to the Emirates.
Meanwhile Caughtoffside.com reports that the Gunners are pursuing another Dutch midfielder, though one of a more robust character – the AC Milan "enforcer" Nigel De Jong.
De Jong left Manchester City last year but Caughtoffside claims he wants a return to the rough and tumble of the Premier League because Serie A is just too soft. That's caught the attention of Arsene Wenger, who apparently wants to bring in a player with a bit of bite to his game in order to protect the likes of Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.
Talking of enforcers, there is more talk today that the Gunners are genuine about their pursuit of Swansea and Wales captain Ashley Williams. According to The Guardian Wenger has "lost faith" in the partnership of his two senior centre-backs, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker, and Laurent Koscielny is hardly likely to turn into Tony Adams overnight.
The Gunners boss now recognises that he needs someone with a cool head and leadership skills in the back four and is prepared to shell out £8m on the 28-year-old Williams.
However, he will face competition for his signature from Liverpool, where Brendan Rodgers is also keen to bolster his defence this summer. Given the relative directions that the three clubs are travelling in, it would come as little surprise if Williams decided to stay where he was. At least he got his hands on a trophy with the Swans.
The Evening Standard says the "saga" of Frank Lampard's future at Chelsea has taken another twist after chief executive Ron Gourlay appeared to confirm the club was in talks over a new contract only to subsequently claim he'd been misquoted.
It was the Standard which reported last month that the 34-year-old midfielder would be offered a one-year extension to his contract at the end of this season, a claim Gourlay appeared to endorse yesterday when he told reporters: "Discussions are on-going and must be kept confidential at this stage."
But a short while later a statement was issued by the club in which Gourlay said of the Lampard situation: "I am not prepared to discuss this at this time. Obviously, conversations must remain confidential between the club and the players at all times so that is as much as I can say."
Though the bookies remain confident that Lampard will be offered a 12-month deal by Chelsea, the Standard rightly points out the confused signals will do little to "appease angry fans" who believe the veteran midfielder isn't being accorded the respect he deserves.
Finally, The Sun carries an exclusive with the news that West Ham United have decided to return Andy Carroll to Anfield at the end of the season.
The 24-year-old England striker joined the Hammers on loan in August from Liverpool but boss Sam Allardyce is of the opinion that Carroll "has not done enough" to secure a permanent £17m move.
Instead West Ham will look to land Southampton striker Rickie Lambert for £6m while Carroll faces an uncertain future now that Liverpool have signed former Chelsea frontman Daniel Sturridge. ·