Arsenal want Bender, but will Juventus scupper Sanchez bid?
Arsene Wenger has resurrected his interest in German holding midfielder, as Ashley Cole weighs up move to Italy
With the Gunners rumoured to be close to agreeing deals for Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, the Daily Telegraph believes Arsene Wenger has finally thrown off the financial shackles and also has Bayer Leverkusen midfielder in his sights.
Wenger had a £19m bid for Bender turned down last summer and the midfield man has recently signed a new contract at Bayer Leverkusen, which led many to conclude a move to north London is not on the cards anytime soon. But, the Gunners boss still sees the 25-year-old as an ideal holding midfielder to patrol the central pastures while the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil bomb forward.
Current lynchpin Mikel Arteta is now 32 and out of contract next year. While Wenger has plentiful options in midfield, few have the discipline or inclination to play the holding role.
For Wenger to pull off the signings of Sanchez, Debuchy and Bender, he would need to spend a total of around £60m, says the Telegraph. Such an outlay would satisfy the restless Gunners fan-base, but none would be surprised to go into the final day of the transfer window in August still awaiting the cautious Frenchman's first signing of the summer.
And right on cue, the Daily Mirror reports that Juventus could yet scupper the Gunners' bid for Chilean forward Sanchez. Although the FA Cup holders are believed to have agreed a £34m deal in principle with Barcelona for Sanchez, the Spanish giants are waiting to see if Juve can match or better that offer.
Manchester United's interest is in a different Chilean – the midfielder Arturo Vidal. Louis van Gaal is a self-declared admirer of the Juventus star and, according to The Guardian, would not be deterred by the 27-year-old's £40m price tag. He may offer Nani, who is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, as a makeweight in the deal.
Meanwhile, former Gunner Ashley Cole will fly to Italy today for talks with Roma, according to Sky Sports sources. The 33-year-old is a free agent after being released by Chelsea this summer. The left-back was also left back in England by national coach Roy Hodgson when he chose his World Cup squad and Cole has had to contend with rejection by club and country this summer.
But his agent has been talking with various clubs about a move to get his career back on track. Cole's most likely destination seems to be either the MLS or Serie A, with Roma believed to be showing the strongest interest in the former England man.
Sky Sports says the Italian club are reportedly on the brink of offering Cole a two-year deal, with a weekly salary in the region of the £150,000 pay packet he trousered at Chelsea. But the Daily Telegraph puts the length of the proposed deal at three years, while the Daily Mail goes all out and says Cole will undergo a medical in Rome today.
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is ready to spend the best part of £20m to land the services of Benfica's highly-rated forward Lazar Markovic, according to Metro.
The Reds are believed to have agreed a £19.8m deal to bring the Serbian attacker to Merseyside on a four-year contract. The Portuguese media claim the deal will be announced today. The 20-year-old Markovic, would become Liverpool's fourth summer signing, joining Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Emre Can in the new kids' corner at Anfield. ·