Arsenal fly to Madrid on mission to sign Morata and Di Maria
Real Madrid stars are in the Gunners sights along with Swansea defender Ashley Williams
With dark clouds settled over London the Daily Mail reports that Arsenal chiefs have upped sticks and flown to Spain, although their motivation has nothing to do with the incessant rain. Rather, they are hopeful of striking a deal for Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.
It's no secret that Arsene Wenger has been after the 21-year-old for some time, and now, with Juventus also interested, the Nutty Professor has pressed the board to make a move before the Italians swoop. While Real are said to be open to offers, they will insist on a buy-back clause and that could prove problematical with Arsenal reluctant to agree to such a condition.
Morata, who scored nine goals in 28 games for Real last season, appeared as a substitute in Saturday's Champions League final victory against Athletico Madrid.
Meanwhile might Arsenal also have a word in Real's ear when they're in Madrid about Angel Di Maria? The Daily Express says the European champions are "edging closer" to agreeing a deal with Verona for winger Juan Iturbe, and if that deal is done it will surely see Los Blancos releasing Di Maria (also a winger) to make way for the new man, despite his heroics in last weekend's Champions League final.
The Express says the Iturbe, an Argentina Under-20 international, has "caught the eye" of Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti during his season-long loan to Verona from Porto, scoring eight goals and racking up five assists. But that is where it starts to get complicated. Verona have reportedly activated their £13.2m clause that allows them to sign Iturbe on a permanent basis from Porto, and the Express claims their intention is to immediately sell him on at a profit.
Reports in Italy claim that Real officials met Iturbe's agent on Wednesday to thrash out the details of the deal and are now negotiating with Verona over the £24m fee. And if that is the case then it is almost certain that Arsenal will move for Di Maria with initial reports claiming that the Gunners will table a bid in the region of £32.5m.
Still with the Gunners and the Daily Star reckons that they are "close to completing a deal" for Swansea defender Ashley Williams. The Welsh club have resisted previous attempts by Arsenal to land the Welsh international, but what appears to have changed their mind is the prospect of signing Lukasz Fabianski as a replacement for Michel Vorm, who is bound for Liverpool. Arsenal will encourage their out-of-contract Polish gloveman to head over the Severn Bridge, provided the Swans sell them 29-year-old Williams in return. However, the Star says that Arsenal will have to triple their current offer of £3m, but assuming they do then Williams will be an Arsenal player within the next fortnight.
On the other side of north London new Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino is aiming to make Mattia Destro his first signing at the club. With the average life expectancy of Spurs gaffers measured in months, it seems the Argentine – who was appointed coach on Tuesday – is anxious to get going in the transfer market in a bid to avoid going the same way as his seven short-lived predecessors. Metro says that Spurs will offer Roma £14m for the 23-year-old Destro, whose sharpshooting skills saw him score 13 goals in 20 matches last season for the Italian outfit.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are said to have made an offer of £16m for Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, with midfielder Suso touted as a possible makeweight in the deal, says the Daily Telegraph. The 21-year-old was known to be on Liverpool's wanted list, but is only "one of several full-back options under serious consideration", says the paper.
Finally, one deal already done and dusted is the transfer of Mauro Zarate from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina to West Ham United. The striker has signed a three-year deal with the Hammers, according to BBC Sport. It will be the striker's second stint in England, previously the 27-year-old Zarate had a loan spell with Birmingham as a youngster before going on to bigger and better things with Lazio and Inter Milan.
"This club is a beautiful club," said Zarate. "My aim is come here and do my best in order to help the club to climb as high as possible in the table and to reach European competition again." ·