Arsenal behind Chelsea in race for Iturbe, but veterans sign on

Juan Manuel Iturbe

The young Argentine has been pulling up trees for Hellas Verona and is wanted across Europe

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:28 ON Tue 4 Mar 2014

NOT only have Chelsea pulled away from Arsenal in the race for the league title but, according to Talksport, the Blues have also nipped in ahead of the Gunners in the pursuit of Argentine forward Juan Manuel Iturbe.

The 20-year-old netbuster is currently on a season-long loan spell at Hellas Verona of Italy's Serie A, and Talksport claims the three English clubs are hoping to do a deal with Porto, Iturbe's regular employers, come the summer.

The young Argentine's goals have helped the unfancied Hellas to seventh in the Italian top flight and that's attracted plenty of interest all around Europe. Verona, Roma and Juventus are all considering signing Iturbe but Talksport says Porto's close links with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho could play a decisive part in any summer transfer.

However, there is good news for the Gunners after it was reported that both Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky had agreed new contracts to stay at the Emirates. The Daily Mirror says the pair have both signed two year deals.

Rosicky's extension means he will complete a decade of service with Arsenal, having joined the club in 2006. The 33-year-old midfielder is likely to end his career with the Gunners. Defender Mertesacker, who arrived in 2011 and has forged a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny, is now tied to the club until 2017 by which time he will be 32.

Still with Arsenal and French rag Le Parisien says that Maxime Gonalons has given his clearest hint yet that he may be open to a move from Lyon in June. The 24-year-old international midfielder is known to be on both Arsenal's and Tottenham's radars and he told Le Parisien: "This is my fifth season here, I agreed with the president to meet at the end of the season to find the best solution. If it is the right time for me, the club will then find an agreement to sell."

The strapping six footer made his debut for France in 2011 but has since won only six caps. It's believed he wants to kick-start his career in England in the hope of getting more international game-time. He is certainly known to the Gunners, who have been linked with a move for his services for what seems like an eternity.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail says that Paris Saint-Germain are continuing to show interest in Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. PSG have been long-term admirers of Ivanovic with coach Laurent Blanc keen to pair the Serbian alongside Thiago Silva.

The Mail says that though Ivanovic is enjoying life at the Bridge, PSG are likely to table a big-money bid in the summer. However, Mourinho is "a big fan of Ivanovic" and would be reluctant to see him go, though the fact he turned 30 last month might lead Chelsea to sell if PSG's offer enters the realm of silly money.

Finally, Goal.com reports that Montpellier are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to dissuade Remy Cabella from heading north to England in the summer.

Newcastle United, Arsenal and Manchester United have all been linked with the 23-year-old playmaker after he scored ten goals in 25 Ligue 1 appearances this season. But in an interview with French broadcaster RMC, Montpellier owner Louis Nicollin said: "I would advise him not to go anywhere." And pressed on what he might do should Cabella try and force a move at the end of this season, the no-nonsense Nicollin replied: "I think I would not sell him. I am capable of doing that." · 

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