Arsenal and Spurs could fight it out for Balotelli and Lloris
Italian striker could be on his way to White Hart Lane, but is keeper on the way out?
THE rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs shows no signs of abating and the two sides could be preparing for a ding-dong battle over the summer as they go head to head in the transfer market.
First up is everyone's favourite madcap Italian striker, Mario Balotelli. The former Man City frontman is now plying his trade with AC Milan in Serie A, but has been linked with a return to the Premier League with Arsenal. However, the Gunners are not the only London side eyeing the unpredictable 23-year-old.
According to the Daily Mirror, Spurs are also after his services and could use their £30m misfit Erik Lamela as bait to land him. Lamela has only started three league games since arriving at White Hart Lane during Andre Villas-Boas's summer spending spree. Now Tottenham are trying to offload him to an Italian club. The Mirror cites reports in Italy that suggest Lamela could be heading for Milan in a swap deal that would see Balotelli head in the opposite direction.
How might Arsenal react to Spurs beating them to the signature of Balotelli? By stealing their goalkeeper. At least that's what Le 10 Sport in France suggests could happen.
The website says that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who has indicated that he could quit Spurs if they fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, is already wanted by AS Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and Atletico Madrid, but it adds that the Gunners are also interested. The story reared its head earlier in the year thanks to a comment from Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, which Lloris denied. However, Le 10 Sport is adamant that the Gunners remain "very interested" in the keeper.
It looks like Roy Keane isn't the only person who doesn't think much of the Premier League. The International Business Times claims that Paris Saint German midfielder Blaise Matuidi is none too impressed either and has snubbed the advances of Arsenal and Manchester City to sign a new deal with the French outfit.
The powerful playmaker signed for the Parisians in 2011 in a £7m deal from Saint Etienne and has since gone on to win 19 caps for France. Recently both the Gunners and the Citizens have been linked with Matuidi with the latter allegedly dangling a lucrative contract under his nose. Arsene Wenger was also said to be tailing his compatriot but 26-year-old Matuidi has now signed a four year extension with PSG to end speculation, telling the club website: "I absolutely wanted to continue at PSG. The club's limitless ambition has no equivalent in Europe."
According to Goal.com, Pepe Reina is biding his time before making a decision on where he will play next season. The 31-year-old goalkeeper, currently on loan from Anfield with Napoli, has been linked with a move to Barcelona in recent weeks but he's yet to make up his mind regards his future. "I need to go back to Liverpool at the end of my loan and I will make my decision there," said Reina ahead of Napoli's Europa League clash with Swansea City this evening. "My future does not depend on our results this season. We are having a good season."
Elsewhere and the Daily Star reports that England U-21 striker Connor Wickham has joined Leeds on loan from Sunderland. Once linked with Arsenal, the 20-year-old frontman has failed to fire at the Stadium of Light and in moving to Leeds Wickham hopes to reignite his career. "I need to be playing football," he said. "Once I heard Leeds were interested in signing me there were no other choices and no doubt I wanted to come... there are some players here that I know already, and the team is looking to push towards the play-offs. Hopefully I can help with that."
Finally, Talksport reports that Mehdi Benatia is the latest player to run a mile from Manchester United. The Morocco international joined Roma last year from Udinese but there were rumours last month that Benatia was being courted by David Moyes. PSG and Tottenham were also said to be interested in the defensive dynamo but it was United who were most confident of doing a deal in the summer. But now Talksport says the powerful centre-back is "on the verge" of signing a contract extension with Roma's sporting director Walter Sabatini preparing to open negotiations to ensure Benatia doesn't end up wallowing in Old Trafford mediocrity.