Arsenal tipped to replace Wenger with Juve boss Conte
The end is in sight for veteran Gunners boss and ambitious young Italian could take over
COULD Arsene Wenger's days as Arsenal boss be numbered? Having saved his bacon on the last day of the transfer window by spending £42.5m on Mesut Ozil the Gunners boss deflected much of the criticism that had been aimed at him over the summer. But his contract is due to expire at the end of the season and many Arsenal fans are starting to wonder if his powers are on the wane.
Against that background some people's thoughts are turning to possible replacements for the Nutty Professor, and over in Italy a frontrunner for the position could be emerging in the form of Antonio Conte, the urbane young manager of Serie A champions Juventus.
According to Italian website Sport Mediaset, Conte is very ambitions and not entirely happy in Turin after missing out on some of his transfer targets this summer. What's more all is not well between him and Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta. That, according to Sport Mediaset could mean that he finds himself taking over from Wenger at Arsenal next summer.
Give Me Sport adds to the intrigue by suggesting that Wenger could be tempted away from Arsenal by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, creating the opening that Conte is looking for at a big club in England.
Back on the pitch and two Italian clubs are hot on the heels of Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata, according to the Daily Star. The paper says that Juventus and Napoli are targeting a January move for the Spanish international whose future at the Bridge has been the source of much speculation since the arrival in the summer of Jose Mourinho.
The 25-year-old Mata has started just two league games for the Blues this season and rumours continue to link him with a move to either Arsenal or Manchester United in the New Year. But the Star claims that the two Italian clubs have now entered the fray, with Napoli boss Rafa Benitez particularly keen as he got to admire Mata during his time as interim Chelsea manager last season.
Meanwhile Talksport says that Demba Ba is determined to make a fist of it at Chelsea despite being linked with a move to Arsenal earlier in the month. It was said the Gunners narrowly missed out on capturing the Senegalese sharpshooter but could be back for a second bite of the cherry in January.
Mourinho is known to be keen to hang on to Ba, even if his first-team opportunities have been few and far between this season. Ba, who now faces competition from Fernando Torres and new recruit Samuel Eto'o for the centre forward berth, is quoted as saying: "Now it's about the next months and years with Chelsea."
Asked about the failed bid from Arsenal, Ba replied: "It didn't happen. I'm a good professional and always work hard. I will keep doing the same."
If caughtoffside.com is to be believed, Everton are set to "renew their interest" in Manchester United midfielder Anderson come the New Year. Toffees boss Roberto Martinez is reportedly an ardent admirer of the 25-year-old Brazilian and believes he could be in with a shout of signing him in January because of his lack of first-team opportunities at Old Trafford.
Anderson has started just one of Manchester United's opening four Premier League fixtures and caughtoffside claims that Martinez sees the South American as the ideal steely midfield replacement for Marouane Fellaini, who moved from Everton to United a fortnight ago in a £27.5m deal.
Finally, the Daily Mail reports that Wayne Rooney refused to discuss his future in the wake of his two goals for Manchester United in their 4-2 Champions League victory over Bayer Leverkusen last night.
Asked in the post-match interview about rumours linking him with a move away from Old Trafford, perhaps to Arsenal or Chelsea, the England striker snapped: "Listen, I'm concentrating on my football as I have done all summer. I've put my head down, worked hard to get myself fit for the season. I'm pleased with the way I have come back and delighted that I am scoring goals."
The Mail adds that "further fuel was added to the speculation" over Rooney's long-term future at United when manager David Moyes was asked if his frontman would remain at United beyond the New Year. "I don't know," said Moyes. ·