Arsenal could get clear run on Higuain as Liverpool eye Falcao

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain

Barcelona don't want Argentine striker but will Gunners really fork out £80m to sign him?

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:48 ON Thu 7 Aug 2014

Barcelona have backed out of the race to land Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain leaving Arsenal with a possible clear run on the Argentine ace, as rivals Liverpool turn their attentions elsewhere. 

According to the Daily Express, the Spanish giants are no longer interested in signing Higuain and that's left his agent, his brother Nicolas, to sigh: "We have had no contact with the Barcelona directors, nor the coach... the links with Barcelona are like in a film, there is nothing real about it."

The paper says there is interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, but are their chances of landing him any more realistic than Boris Johnston's hopes of becoming PM? The Express insists with a straight face that both clubs are prepared to cough up and cover the South American sharpshooter's buy-out clause, which stands at - wait for it - £80m.

Why would they do that? Well, the Gunners are still in search of more firepower despite signing Alexis Sanchez earlier in the summer, while  Liverpool are still looking for a replacement for Luis Suarez now that he's taken his gnashers to the Camp Nou.

The Guardian suggests that Liverpool may not be that keen on Higuain, however. It claims that Brendan Rodgers is more interested in Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, and wants to take the Colombian on loan this season with a view to a permanent move. Falcao joined Monaco last season for £50m but has not settled there and is reportedly keen on pastures new. 

But Liverpool's dreams of bringing Falcao to Anfield may yet be dashed, notes the paper, as it suggests that they player is on the verge of following his compatriot James Rodriguez from Monaco to Real Madrid.

Back with Napoli and this time it's the Italian club getting cold feet. According to Metro their move for Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini "appears to have fallen through", with Liverpool playmaker Lucas Leiva their new target. Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis recently admitted he was a fan of the follicly fecund Fellaini but it seems that the club is not willing to pay United the £4m loan fee they were demanding, and unless they drop their asking price the Belgian will continue to clutter up the Old Trafford bench.

Napoli's stance could have repercussions at United, at least that is assuming Goal.com aren't whistling in the wind with their 'exclusive', which claims that United vice-chairman Ed Woodward "has held meetings" with representatives of Nigel de Jong and the AC Milan midfielder could be on the verge of a move to Manchester.

Goal.com say that De Jong would love to work with new United manager Louis van Gaal – a coach he knows from international duty with Holland – and an £8m offer has been made after Van Gaal gave the move "the green light".

Elsewhere the Mirror says that Man City target Eliaquim Mangala is expected to jet into Manchester this week to finally complete his move to the Etihad. The paper says that the champions are "confident of concluding a £32m deal" for the France defender after months of protracted discussions with Porto. Apparently the 23-year-old's transfer was delayed by a disagreement over financial terms but they have now been agreed and City should be in a position to officially unveil Mangala by the weekend.

Finally Sky Sports report that Southampton have confirmed the signing of Saphir Taider from Inter Milan with Daniel Osvaldo heading in the other direction. Both moves are season-long loans with the 28-year-old Osvaldo returning to Italy following a successful spell at Juventus last season. He arrived on the south coast from Roma in 2013 but never settled at St Mary's. 

As for the 22-year-old Taider, Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said of the playmaker: "It's part of our philosophy to bring in talented young players who like to learn and develop themselves, and that's true of Saphir... I've spoken to him about the positions he can play in. He can play as a controlled midfielder but he can also move up around the box and up front, which is a good thing for a coach. · 

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