In Brief

Arsenal Falcao deal: has striker already joined Real Madrid?

Confusion over reports that Gunners were set to secure striker from Monaco, as Wenger eyes Cerci

With three days to go until the transfer window closes rumours are mounting like an MK Dons scoreline, and the truth is harder to find than gold bullion on a Kentish beach.

Friday's most startling piece of gossip concerns Arsenal, who were said to be close to an extraordinary loan deal for Monaco striker Radamel Falcao. The Colombian forward has reportedly been told he can leave Monaco this summer and, according to Metro, the Gunners had a clear run on their man after Real Madrid, who were favourites to sign him, dropped out of the race.

A Tweet, ostensibly from BBC Sport journalist David Ornstein and picked up by the BBC itself then suggested the Gunners were in talks with the player's agent over a loan deal, sparking mayhem among fans. However, it subsequently turned out that the tweet came from a parody account, as the Arsenal 4 Life blog explained, sparking yet more mayhem among fans on Twitter.

The BBC's live feed attributed Falcao to Arsenal quotes which came from a fake account to their own David Ornstein.


— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) August 29, 2014

To add to the woes of Gunners fans, Italian football website Calciomercato has claimed that Falcao has agreed an eye-watering £20m loan deal to Real Madrid after all. Wherever Falcao does end up, the whole sorry tale goes to proves how hard it is to establish the facts as deadline day approaches.

The Falcao rumour is, obviously, not the only chit-chat doing the rounds and it is also been claimed that the Gunners are poised to make a move for Torino frontman Alessio Cerci.

Taking as its source Spanish rag AS, the authoritative-sounding International Business Times says that Cerci's "agent was in London on Tuesday regarding a summer move to Arsenal". The 27-year-old Cerci has been linked with a move to AC Milan in recent days – as a replacement for Mario Balotelli – but Torino president Urbano Cairo has revealed that while the player is on his way out it's not to Milan. "Cerci's buyers are overseas," Cairo is quoted as saying, though he refused to deny or confirm that he was bound for the Emirates.

But AS believes Arsenal are the club in question as Arsene Wenger looks to shore up his strike force following Olivier Giroud's broken leg. It's said Torino will receive £16m for the Italian international, and the Evening Standard agrees.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail says that the Gunners "are set to accept a £1.5m offer" from Norwich for defender Ignasi Miquel. The 21-year-old, a product of the Arsenal youth team, has failed to break into the first team squad, making only a handful of appearances in the last few seasons. As a result Wenger has decided to sell the Spaniard to Norwich before Monday's transfer deadline. According to the Mail, Arsenal have agreed to the Canaries' request for a permanent move and consequently  they will sign another defender in the next 72 hours.

That player was expected to be Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos but now that the two clubs have been drawn together in the Champions League, the Germans may change their mind rather than allow the Greek to line up against them in a matter of weeks.

In other news Neil Warnock has lost no time strengthening Crystal Palace since his appointment as manager. Talksport reports that he already made his first signing, bringing back "fan favourite Wilfried Zaha" from Manchester United on a season-long loan.

The 21-year-old winger was Alex Ferguson's final signing before the canny Scot left United in the lurch. Fergie paid an eye-watering £15m for the unproven youngster in January 2013 and Zaha subsequently made less of an impact at Old Trafford than David Moyes and now Louis van Gaal has agreed he can return to Palace on loan. Zaha, who somehow has two England caps, confirmed the move by tweeting an old photo of himself in a Palace shirt, simply saying 'Back'.

Finally, the Daily Express is one of several papers reporting that Danny Welbeck "will be allowed to leave" Manchester United if he so wishes before Monday. The paper says it would be a loan move, not a permanent transfer, and claims Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham are all in the mix to take the England striker for the season. The Daily Star, however, puts Spurs in pole position to land Welbeck now that they have "withdrawn their interest in a permanent deal" and a loan agreement could be reached as early tonight.

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