Iniesta and Pirlo put Man Utd, Arsenal and others on alert
Spanish star unhappy with £200k-a-week Barcelona deal, Juventus could jettison Italian ace
THE FATHER of Barcelona and Spain star Andres Iniesta has given the clearest hunt yet that his son might be considering a move away from the Camp Nou.
According to the Daily Star, the midfield maestro is the at the centre of a "Man Utd and City battle", with both clubs vying for his hand.
It's all because the Barcelona superstar is "understood to be disappointed" with the terms of a new deal he has been offered by the Spanish giants and is now weighing up his options. Though the deal was said to be in the region of £200,000-a-week, Iniesta's father, Jose Antonio, told Spanish radio programme La Xarxa: "Anyone who knows Andres, who has spent 18 years at Barcelona, shouldn't doubt his words."
Iniesta has made it clear to Barcelona that he wants a better offer and the Star says if that's not forthcoming then City and United are going to swoop in the New Year.
And Iniesta is not the only member of Europe's footballing royalty who could be on his way to the Premier League. The Daily Mail reports that Italian pass master Andrea Pirlo could see out the twilight of his glittering career in England.
He may be 34 years old but the midfield general still has the touch and vision sadly lacking in many Premier League midfields and with his contract up at the end of the season, Juventus could decide to offload him in January.
With that in mind the Mail suggests that Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs will all be beating a path to his door, while the midfielder, who was the star of the show at Euro 2012, could be tempted to rejoin his old AC Milan boss, Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Birmingham are hopeful of keeping hold of Manchester United youngster Jesse Lingard, the Birmingham Mail reports. The striker, who scored all the goals on his debut as Birmingham thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 on Saturday, has only a month left at St Andrews. But the Mail says Birmingham boss Lee Clark is keen to extend the deal so highly does he rate the 20-year-old hitman.
"What we have got to try and do is continue to win games and for Jesse to enjoy his football to make the stay longer," he said. "The month will be up quite quickly [and] Manchester United need to see that he is developing as a player and is enjoying the environment where he is playing."
Asked if he been in touch with United manager David Moyes, Clark confirmed that he had and he remained cautiously optimistic that an extension could be arranged.
According to Talksport Monaco are set to "intensify their efforts" to sign Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala when the transfer window re-opens in January. Manchester City have long been linked with the France international but it appears the 22-year-old is now being courted by moneybags Monaco.
The French club forked out £146m over the summer in new signings but manager Claudio Ranieri hasn't finished his spree and Talksport claims Mangala is now his "number one transfer target" and he's prepared to outbid the Sky Blues.
Finally, Spanish rag Sport says Barcelona, perhaps gearing up for the departure of Iniesta, are tailing Chelsea's ‘Three Amigos' – otherwise known as Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta. The trio have seen little in the way of action since Jose Mourinho took over the helm at the Bridge and that, says Sport, has given Barca an idea.
A triple swoop is being planned for the New Year with Torres and Mata the "priority" while Azpilicueta will also be offered a fresh start at the Camp Nou should Martin Montoya refuse to sign a contract extension. ·