Chelsea & Arsenal woo Balotelli as Man U face Rooney test
Mourinho chases big name strikers as Man Utd scouts meet to draw up transfer hit-list
HE'S 'Madcap Mario' to some, 'Bonkers Balotelli' to others, but according to the Daily Star, Mario Balotelli is also top of Chelsea's New Year wishlist. The paper says that the Blues are "set to swoop" for the AC Milan striker and the man himself is apparently keen to unleash his eccentricities on England's finest once more.
With AC Milan failing to fire so far this season, Balotelli is "frustrated" with life in the Serie A and is open to a return to the Premier League just a year after leaving Manchester City. The Star points out that Jose Mourinho once described Balotelli as "unmanageable", but the Chelsea manager is said to believe that he has what it takes to bring him to heel at the Bridge.
The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea are not the only side courting Balotelli. It claims that Arsenal, in dire need of a new striker, and Tottenham are also monitoring the situation.
Meanwhile the Star also reports that Juan Mata could be nearing the Stamford Bridge exit with the 25-year-old Spanish international allegedly "furious at his treatment" under Mourinho. As a result Atletico Madrid are closing in and a deal could be agreed with the Blues by the end of the week.
And could the money Chelsea make from selling Mata go some way in meeting the £30m bid they are preparing to table for Wayne Rooney? The Daily Mail thinks so with the paper claiming that the England striker, who missed Sunday's shock FA Cup loss to Swansea with a groin niggle, is about to call time on his Old Trafford career as United lurch from one defeat to another. Rooney's representatives will sit down with United officials this month to discuss his future but it seems increasingly likely that the 28-year-old is looking for one final challenge away from Manchester.
It's hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy for Man United boss David Moyes at the moment. Not only must he contend with his side's dire form and rumours about the future of Rooney he has also been forced to admit that while he needs new players "urgently" they may not be available.
According to the Daily Mail he has called a meeting of Man United's European scouts next week where potential targets will be discussed. The paper says that he has already ruled out bids for several rumoured targets including Atletico Madrid's Koke, but could move for Ander Herrera of Athletic Bilbao after scouts watched him play against Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is also on his radar, says the Mail. The Daily Express agrees and reports that United have now joined Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for the £32m Brazilian striker.
Metro reports that new Cardiff City gaffer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "keen" to make Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha his first signing. It's said that Solskjaer, once a loyal United player, has been given a considerable war chest by Bluebirds' owner Vincent Tan and he sees Zaha as a player with great potential. Since joining United last season from Crystal Palace, the England winger has been frozen out by David Moyes and he's desperate to get regular game time in the thin hope he could yet make Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad.
Though Newcastle have been linked with a move for the 21-year-old, Metro says Cardiff are the favourites to sign him as they are willing to stump up a loan fee "and 100 per cent of the player's wages".
Finally, the race to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski is over after the 25-year-old Poland international signed a pre-contract agreement with Bayern Munich. Lewandowski, one of the hottest properties in the European game, has been linked with a host of clubs in recent months, including Chelsea and Manchester United, but it was confirmed over the weekend that he will join Bayern in June on a free transfer when his contract expires.
The BBC reports Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club's official website: "We are very pleased that this transfer is successful. Robert Lewandowski is one of the world's best strikers, he will strengthen the squad of FC Bayern and give us a boost." ·