Arsenal could lose Giroud if Diego Costa goes to Chelsea
Gunners forward lined up as Atletico Madrid's replacement for Costa, as Real Madrid chase Suarez
ACCORDING to Spanish broadcaster Cadena Cope, Atletico Madrid have accepted defeat in their battle to prevent Diego Costa moving to Chelsea in the summer and so have lined up his replacement. That man is Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and negotiations have allegedly begun with the International Business Times claiming that Atletico's sporting director Jose Luis Perez Caminero has "scheduled a meeting" with Giroud's agent this week.
While Costa has long been linked with a move to Chelsea as a replacement for Fernando Torres the news that Atletico see Giroud as the man to fill his scoring boots will surprise many. Spanish rag AS recently reported that Atletico were considering a move for Newcastle striker Loic Remy but it appears the La Liga leaders have settled on Giroud and will "offer Arsenal £15m" in return for the Frenchman. Though Giroud, who scored one of Arsenal's goals in their 3-0 drubbing of Newcastle last night, has repeatedly said he wishes to see out his contract at the Emirates until it expires in 2016, IBT says Atletico will lure Giroud to Madrid with the offer of a substantial pay rise.
Meanwhile Caughtoffside drops a bombshell with the news that the Gunners have made Cesc Fabregas their priority in the summer transfer market. Apparently Arsene Wenger is "believed to be in talks" with Barcelona over the possibility of re-signing his former captain. Fabregas, who left Arsenal for the Camp Nou in the summer of 2011 has never really bedded down in Barcelona and, according to the website, is now "ready to leave".
The 26-year-old Spaniard won't come cheap, of course, with the figure of £40m being mentioned, and it's understood Wenger will also "offer defender Thomas Vermaelen as bait" in order to clinch the deal. Barcelona are said to be in the hunt for a central defender and would look favourably on Vermaelen while also allowing Fabregas to leave.
If Arsenal fans are worried about waving goodbye to Giroud, pity the Liverpool supporters who are coming to terms with the revelation that Luis Suarez could do a runner in the summer.
According to The Sun, Real Madrid are sniffing around the Uruguayan and are planning a £70m raid for the PFA Player of the Year before the World Cup kicks off in Brazil. But there could even be a repeat of last summer's stand-off with Arsenal as the spectre of the player's buy-out clause has already been raised. Apparently there is a trigger in the new Anfield contract, which Suarez signed earlier this season, and Madrid intend to activate it.
In addition to a huge cheque, Liverpool will also be offered either Karim Benzema or Alvaro Morata in part exchange for Suarez, adds the Currant Bun. That offer will not go down well with Liverpool's Premier League rivals, as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United (not to mention Paris Saint-Germain) are all keen on buying Benzema this summer, according to the Daily Mail.
In other news the Daily Telegraph reports that Chelsea "are to open negotiations" with Ashley Cole over a new contract. The left-back has run into form of late and, as a result, Jose Mourinho is said to be ready to offer the 33-year-old England defender a new deal. But the Telegraph says Cole won't be rushed in to any decisions over his future after winning back his place in the Blues' back four. It looks like Mourinho now sees the value of having an experienced old-timer like Cole in the side but the Telegraph says the former Arsenal man is still mulling over his future at the Bridge and could yet "embark on a new challenge" in the summer, either with another Premier League club or Stateside with the New York Red Bulls.
And on the subject of veterans, Talksport claims that Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand is "keen to extend his stay" at Old Trafford. The 35-year-old has been linked with moves to both the UAE and the USA in the summer but it's now being reported that the central defender – out of contract next month - may opt for one final season at Manchester United now that David Moyes has departed. Asked what his intentions were, Ferdinand replied: "I'm going to continue playing. Whether it's here, I don't know. But I hope so." Ferdinand has made over 450 appearances in 12 years at Old Trafford and believes he still has enough gas in the tank to hit the 500 mark. ·