Arsenal favourites to sign Ntep, Wenger still after Cabaye
Gunners must battle Roma for the signature of young Auxerre striker as they rekindle Cabaye chase
WITH January's transfer window about to be flung open rumours are gathering pace faster than a round of managerial sackings. And no surprise that Arsenal are the club everyone seems to be talking about with the Gunners rumoured to be winning the race to sign young Auxerre striker Paul-Georges Ntep.
According to the Daily Star Arsenal have seen off competition from Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham for the hand of the French Under-21 international, and it now comes down to a straight shootout between the Premier League leaders and Roma.
Though Rudi Garcia, the boss of the Italian outfit, has been eyeing up Ntep of late, the Star believes Arsenal are the front-runners to sign the 21-year-old frontman next month. Apparently Gunners gaffer Arsene Wenger is prepared to pay £8.5m for the young gun whose shooting skills would brighten the mood even of an old curmudgeon like Scrooge - assuming Scrooge wasn't a Spurs fan.
Ntep certainly appears to be angling for a move to the Emirates, lavishing praise on the Gunners during an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe. "Arsenal is a club that trusts young players," he said earlier this month. Asked if that meant he would soon be joining their ranks, he replied: "It would all depend on the project. If it is going to a new club to remain on the bench, what is the improvement? I don't ask to be in the starting 11 of a big club immediately, but I could help in the not too long-term."
And what of the long-term future of another Frenchman linked with Arsenal? None other than the redoubtable South Shields Gazette claims that Newcastle's Gallic playmaker Yohan Cabaye is once again the object of attention from the Gunners. The 27-year-old France international almost moved to the Emirates in the summer but the move came to naught and Cabaye later pledged his allegiance to the Magpies.
But the Gazette claims Arsenal, as well as Liverpool and Paris Saint Germain, are all said to be preparing offers for the midfield magician. "There are always going to be big clubs sniffing around him," conceded Newcastle guv'nor Alan Pardew. "We are fortunate to have him, we are enjoying him while he is here and long may that continue."
Asked if he expected Cabaye to remain with Newcastle, Pardew said: "I am pretty confident that my owner and the club are in a great financial position. I would be a lot more nervous if we weren't."
Elsewhere and Metro reports that Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis is willing to take Wilfried Zaha on loan for the rest of the season. The 21-year-old winger signed for Manchester United from the Eagles last January by Alex Ferguson but has had few opportunities to impress under new manager David Moyes. Zaha has made just four appearances this season and with Palace propping up the Premier League, Metro says Pulis would love to have the wide-man back for the second half of the season as they look to stave off relegation.
"We'd be interested if the player was available," said Pulis. "We're talking about a player who is owned by another football club. I wouldn't be talking about any of Manchester United's players because it's not my right to do that."
Finally, the Daily Mirror claims that Dutch ace Wesley Sneijder is "prepared to take a £1m a year pay cut" to join Manchester United next month. Currently with Galatasaray, Sneijder is allegedly "frustrated" with life in Turkey and fancies a fresh start at Old Trafford even if it means dropping from £4m to £3m a year. Aw, bless.
Though some might say the 29-year-old's best days are behind him, the same could be said of United so it may turn out to be a match made in heaven. ·