Arsenal plot Man Utd Smalling raid; Pogba future still unclear
Gunners could take advantage of Old Trafford meltdown to steal England defender
WITH Manchester United's reputation falling apart like a shattered Easter egg, could Arsenal be about to feast on the crumbs? That's what the Daily Star says with the paper reporting that the Gunners "will make a shock £13m move" for United defender Chris Smalling this summer.
Apparently Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been "keen" on Smalling since his started out on the road to stardom with Fulham and the Nutty Professor is quietly confident that United will sell the 24-year-old England man at the end of the season. The Star claims it's Smalling versatility that appeals to Wenger because he can also play either at centre-back or right-back. The defender courted controversy this season, dressing up as a suicide bomber at a fancy dress party, and it's believed he would be more than happy to return to London after struggling to establish himself this season under David Moyes. United forked out £11m to Fulham for Smalling four years ago and Arsenal's offer of £13m is therefore likely to be accepted.
Perhaps one reason why Wenger is zeroing in on Smalling is because another of his defensive targets could be on his way to Italy rather than the Emirates. According to Talksport, Inter Milan have made "preliminary contact" with Genoa over a possible deal for Sime Vrsaljko. Described by Talksport as an Arsenal target, the 22-year-old Vrsaljko joined Genoa last summer and has put in a series of blistering performances for the Serie A club at right-back.
Set to star in Brazil with the Croatian World Cup squad, Vrsaljko's stock is sure to rise over the summer and apparently Inter's new owner, Erick Thohir, is desperate to do a deal with Genoa before the tournament begins.
In other news the Daily Mail reports that French midfielder Paul Pogba has "not held discussions with Juventus" about his future, prompting renewed speculation that the 21-year-old could be on his way out of Turin the summer. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with the highly-rated playmaker this season but Juve have made no secret of their desire to hang on to Pogba.
But in an interview with Bein Sports, the France international left his future very much up in the air. "So far I have not spoken to anyone about the contract renewal with the club nor the future on the market," explained Pogba. Asked if he was aware of the rumours linking him with some of Europe's top clubs, as well as Manchester United, he replied: "Of course I am happy that many big clubs are interested, but the mind is focused on my present work, and that's it. It is Juve today."
Finally, Metro says that Barcelona, the bad boys of Europe, are "eyeing a summer move" for Chelsea defender David Luiz. The crafty Catalans were hit with a year-long transfer ban by Fifa last month after being found guilty of breaching rules on the transfer of under-18 players. But Metro alleges that the Spanish champions are "confident of having their transfer ban lifted" after an appeal, hence their interest in Luiz. The Brazilian's future at the Bridge has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months after Jose Mourinho made clear his preferred centre-back pairing is John Terry and Gary Cahill. ·