Arsenal want Smalling and Cech at the back, Campbell to go
Chelsea keeper could become a Gunner in January, but Man Utd don't want to sell Smalling
There's nothing like a red hot exclusive to banish the Monday morning blues and The Sun has just such a thing with their claim that Arsenal are "ready to make a £7m move for Petr Cech" in the new year.
It follows the revelation that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will not stand in his gloveman's way if he wants to leave the Bridge and nor will he stop him joining one of the Blues' Premier League rivals. Not that the Gunners can be considered a serious threat to Chelsea's title aspirations after their appalling start to the season. Already 12 points adrift of the league leaders, Arsenal see Cech as possessing the cool head the club needs if they're to pick up in the second half of the season. The Sun says that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the 32-year-old Cech has "the character to knock his dodgy defence into shape", and will not baulk at meeting the keeper's £100,000-a-week Chelsea salary.
But the Nutty Professor might not find it so easy to land another of his defensive targets in the new year. According to the Daily Star, Wenger is eyeing up Manchester United defender Chris Smalling much to the irritation of Louis van Gaal. The paper says that the United manager will "block any attempt" by Arsenal to prise the 24-year-old Smalling from Old Trafford after Christmas.
Given that United's defence has had more holes than the M25 of late, it might be a surprise to learn that Wenger is "prepared to pay £10m" for Smalling but the Star reports that Wenger made an approach for the defender in the summer and has been an admirer "since his days at Fulham".
And the Star also says that the Gunners aren't just looking to buy in the new year. According to the tabloid, Arsenal could be tempted to offload Joel Campbell with Benfica and Olympiakos showing an interest in the 22-year-old Costa Rican cracker. Despite an impressive World Cup, Campbell has yet to find favour with Wenger and the Star claims as a result he's "growing increasingly frustrated" with life at the Emirates. A successful loan spell with Olympiakos last season may prompt Campbell to demand a full-time move to the Greek outfit in the new year.
However, Arsene Wenger has described reports that Lucas Podolski will leave Arsenal in January as "completely fabricated". The Gunners boss said that the German had spent most of the season on the bench because he had not been fully fit and because there was a lot of competition in the squad, reports Goal.com. "He is not for sale and there is no offer," said Wenger.
Meanwhile, it looks like the January sales have already begun for some shoppers in Manchester. The Daily Mirror reports that Benfica "have slashed their asking price" for Nicolas Gaitan in the hope the Red Devils will come calling in the New Year.
The 26-year-old Argentina midfielder has been linked with Old Trafford for months but the Mirror claims Van Gaal was "unwilling to meet the £36m release clause" in his contract. Now it's believed Benfica will drop the fee to £28m as they look to balance their books in the midst of a period of financial instability.
Finally, the Daily Mail reports that new Inter Milan gaffer Roberto Mancini is "set to offer Steven Gerrard a move in January" as uncertainty grows over the future of the Liverpool captain. Earlier in the month the 34-year-old midfielder was linked with Manchester City after rumours he wanted to finish his career away from Anfield. Though that particular story has stalled, the Mail says that Gerrard is mulling over a possible move to the USA next summer – with the New York Cosmos – or maybe one final hurrah in Europe with one of the continent's traditional powerhouses.