Arsenal on alert after Di Maria row, as Liverpool hunt Morata

Angel di Maria

The Argentine could be offloaded to Gunners or Man Utd to accommodate Chelsea reject Juan Mata

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:28 ON Thu 9 Jan 2014

COULD a crotchety gesture by Angel Di Maria be the signal that Arsenal and Manchester United have been waiting for? Yes, claims the Daily Star, which says the Argentine ace could be the man Real Madrid move on in order to accommodate Juan Mata. 

It's a given that the Spanish international will be leaving Chelsea this month after falling out of favour with Jose Mourinho, and the Star says that he is bound for the Bernabeu. But Mata's arrival will in all likelihood mean that the 25-year-old Di Maria will be sold by coach Carlo Ancelotti to either the Gunners or United, particularly after an incident during Madrid's 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Monday.

According to the Star Di Maria "grabbed his crotch" when he was substituted during the victory but has subsequently "denied the gesture was in the direction of Ancelotti". Apparently Di Maria feels he has not had the opportunity to display his ball skills this season after being moved down the pecking order in favour of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Star adds that the Gunners are favourites to land Di Maria, but there's a warning from Talksport that perhaps they still have some work to do before Real relent. Asked about a possible deal with Arsenal for Di Maria, Ancelotti replied: "No-one is leaving and no-one is coming in."

So, what about Arsenal's other targets (if they really do want to sign a striker)?

First up and the ongoing saga of whether Alvaro Morata will be allowed to leave Real Madrid on loan continues. Today The Independent reports that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping to steal a march on Arsenal and persuade the 21-year-old to head to Anfield for the rest of the season. The paper claims that Arsenal have been locked in negotiations with Real over Alvaro for a fortnight, but have so far got nowhere.

As for Morata, he has told Spanish media that he would look at options beyond the Bernabeu if he felt he did not have a "relevant role" in the team. So far this season he has made just one start in the league.

Another player linked to the Gunners was Barcelona youngster Tonny Sanabria, but Metro reports that their hopes of signing him have been dashed after the Paraguayan teenager, who has already made his international debut, elected to sign for Roma in Italy's Serie A.

Meanwhile France Football reports that Borussia Monchengladbach of the Bundesliga are in the driving seat as far as prising Paul-Georges Ntep from Auxerre goes. In recent weeks Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain have both been linked with the France Under-21 striker but France Football magazine claims that the German club have opened negotiations and a £7m fee is being discussed.

Over at Old Trafford the Daily Mail claims that David Moyes has decided to start from scratch and build a new squad in his own image, rather than relying on Alex Ferguson's foot soldiers. To that end he plans to get rid of three of the title-winning back four, jettisoning Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra at the end of the season.

On the way out they may well bump into bit-part players Javier Hernandez, Nani, Anderson, Alex Buttner and Anders Lindegaard who will also be shown the door this summer.

Spurs have agreed a deal that will see veteran striker Jermain Defoe sign for MLS side Toronto FC. Luckily for Defoe he will immediately be loaned back to Spurs until March, meaning that he will not have to brave the polar vortex currently hovering over North America. The move could also offer Defoe an unlikely international lifeline, says the Daily Telegraph. The paper claims England boss Roy Hodgson has told Defoe that more regular football in the build-up to the World Cup could be valuable.

In other news, Metro reports that Swansea believe their FA Cup victory over Manchester United at the weekend has increased their clout in the transfer market. To that end the Swans are set to "step up negotiations" with Blackpool for winger Tom Ince.

Boss Michael Laudrup has been tracking the England Under-21 international for several weeks and his interest has increased following injuries to Pablo Hernandez, Roland Lamah and Michu. Ince is out of contract at the end of the season but Swansea are planning a loan deal this month with the option of signing on a permanent deal if he cuts the mustard in the second half of the season.

Elsewhere and the Evening Standard says that West Ham will have to bide their time before completing the loan signing of massive Monaco striker Lacina Traore. The 6ft 8in lighthouse is wanted by the Hammers, thrashed 6-0 by Man City in Wednesday night's League Cup semi-final first-leg, on loan for the next four months, and the Standard says that they and Monaco have agreed terms.

All that is now required for Traore to become a short-term Hammer is for his work permit application to be processed, something that won't happen until early next week at the earliest. The 23-year-old came to prominence in Russia and had a spell at Anzhi before signing for Monaco.

Finally, Sky Sports carries the news that new Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has wasted no time in bolstering the Bluebirds. The Norwegian was named last week as Cardiff's new gaffer and his first move has been to complete the signing of Magnus Wolff Eikrem from Heerenveen for an undisclosed fee.

The Norway international midfielder, once a youth player at Manchester United, worked under Solskjaer at Molde before moving to Heerenveen in Holland last summer. "I've known Magnus for many years," Solskjaer said. "I see this as money well spent... he's technically very good, including set pieces and has great vision. Magnus will add a lot to Cardiff City and will blend in very well with the midfielders in the squad." · 

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