Arsenal hopes of Morata deal boosted as they chase defender

Spanish forward may be available on loan after all, as four clubs join hunt for Cheikhou Kouyate

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:52 ON Fri 10 Jan 2014

ANOTHER day and another twist in Arsenal's hunt for a new striker. Two days after it was reported that Real Madrid frontman Alvaro Morata was definitely not available on loan, and 24 hours after it was claimed that the Gunners were not in the market for a centre forward anyway, the Evening Standard reports that Real Madrid are "willing to listen to offers" for Alvaro, now described as Arsene Wenger's "primary target".

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti does not want to farm the player out on loan, but accepts that he has fallen down the Bernabeu pecking order and is in need of games.

There have been talks between the player's representatives and the Spanish club, says the Standard, and Real have now altered their stance. It now remains for Arsenal, and Morata's other suitors, to agree the terms of the loan, which will include a fee, rumoured to be in excess of £1.5m for the rest of the season.

Four clubs are zeroing in on Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate, at least that's what the Daily Express claims with its bold assertion that Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Southampton are all "locked in a battle" to sign the 24-year-old star.

Taking its cue from an interview the player's agent, Saffet Balkan, conducted with website Turkish-football.com, the Express says that the strapping Senegalese defender is up for a move to England but has yet to persuade Anderlecht it would be to their benefit.

However, Balkan tells Turkish-football.com that he has "been in talks with representatives from Liverpool and Arsenal" and that the Gunners are "very interested" in doing a deal. The Saints and City have also been tailing Kouyate, or so claims the bullish Balkan, who is confident his client will soon be in England.

If Kouyate does pitch up at the Emirates any time soon, one face he won't see is that of Chuba Akpom. The official Arsenal website reports that the 18-year-old striker, who made his Premier League debut as an injury-time substitute in Arsenal's 3-1 victory away to Sunderland in September, has joined Brentford on loan for a month. The move will give the teenager some much-needed senior experience as Arsene Wenger looks to continue his development ahead of next season.

Elsewhere and Metro reports that Liverpool are close to completing the signing of Yann M'Vila after the midfielder's agent admitted he would love to test himself in the Premier League. Arsenal and the Reds were both vying for the Frenchman's hand last season but where the Gunners interest has waned,  Metro says Liverpool gaffer boss Brendan Rodgers remains a fan of the Rubin Kazan playmaker.

"I will not deny there is interest from many European clubs, including English teams," said his agent Werner Baader, adding: "I think many players dream of playing in the Premier League. Yann is no different [and]  we will see what happens."

Still with Liverpool and Danish rag Jyllands-Posten reports that Daniel Agger intends to remain loyal to Liverpool for the rest of the season. Though the Denmark international has started just nine Premier League games this season he used an interview with the paper to deny rumours he was edging towards a move to Napoli where he would hook up with former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez.

"I'm not thinking about moving at the moment, not at all," said Agger. "I've only seen what the papers say and I can't really do anything about it. There is no reason to believe these rumours."

According to the BBC, Cardiff City are eyeing up another Man United old boy, Hannover 96 striker Mama Biram Diouf, barely 24 hours after they signed Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, also once on the Old Trafford books.

New boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is anxious to bolster his squad in the transfer window and the BBC says that he has "made an approach" to sign the Senegalese striker, who has scored 30 goals in 61 appearances since arriving at Hannover two years ago.

Finally, the Daily Mail says that Inter Milan are plotting to prise Pablo Osvaldo from Southampton, using Fredy Guarin as part of the deal. The 27-year-old has struggled to slot into the Saints since arriving in the summer from Roma and with Inter in search of a striker a deal could suit both parties.

Though Chelsea have been interested in Guarin, the Mail says Inter will look to offer the Colombian to Southampton in return for Osvaldo. Asked about the possibility of a move, Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino said: "We still have 22 days left in the transfer window, so we may change our minds, but at the moment we have no business planned." · 

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