Arsenal want Diao to salvage season, Shaqiri sparks scramble
Gunners set to sign £8m Lazio teen in January, as three clubs chase Swiss midfielder
With Arsenal's season already resembling a car crash it seems appropriate that the Gunners are lining up a move for Lazio forward Keita Balde Diao. The 19-year-old was in the news last month when he pranged his £158,000 yellow Lamborghini Gallardo and now his driving skills might soon be seen on the streets of north London.
According to Metro Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has "identified" Diao as a rare talent and a January move is in the pipeline. Though the teenage hitman has scored only twice this season, Metro says Wenger is prepared to cough up £8m for the player, who came through Barcelona's academy before moving to Lazio. Apparently Diao is "very open to quitting" the Serie A side.
The Daily Mirror believes that if he does arrive at the Emirates in January he could be joined by Marcelo Brozovic after Wenger continued his interest in the midfielder by sending scouts to watch him play for Croatia against Italy on Sunday night.
AC Milan and German clubs are also interested but Arsenal have been long term admirers of the deep lying midfielder, who would cost around £5m says the paper.
There could be a £20m scramble for the signature of Swiss midfield maestro Xherdan Shaqiri this January if the Daily Star is to be believed. It says Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs are all interested in the 23-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder who cannot break into Pep Guardiola's team at the Allianz Arena.
The Swiss winger is known to be unhappy in Germany because of a lack of playing time and is thought to be open to a Premier League switch, says the paper.
Meanwhile the Evening Standard reports that Roma have become the latest club to join the pursuit of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. As we reported yesterday Arsenal are believed to be eyeing up the veteran gloveman but so, apparently, are Roma.
Their current keeper, Morgan de Sanctis, turns 38 in a few months and is unlikely to extend his contract when it expires in June. Thus the Standard says Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini has made finding a replacement for next season "a priority", and the choice boils down to Cech and Fiorentina's Brazilian goalkeeper Neto.
If Cech does make the move to the Italian capital he might be disappointed not to find old team-mate Ashley Cole there. The Standard also reports that the left-back, who left Chelsea for Roma in the summer, "may be allowed to leave the club as early as January" after struggling to adapt to La Dolca Vita.
But it seems that Cech isn't the only Premier League star being targeted by Roma, and their experience with Cole has not put them off ex-England full-backs. If the Daily Star is to be believed, the Italians are also set to snare Liverpool defender Glen Johnson next summer.
It's reported that that the veteran right-back will be plucked from Anfield on a free transfer just as soon as his current contract expires at the end of this season. The Star says that Roma "have made contact with Johnson's representatives" and are confident the England defender will sign, after Liverpool allegedly showed little interest in offering the 30-year-old a new deal.
Finally, Goal.com reports that Napoli gaffer Rafael Benitez has rubbished the suggestion that he could be poised to make a move for Mario Balotelli in January. The former Liverpool manager was asked by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport if there was any truth in the rumours linking the misfiring Italian marksman with a return to his homeland just a few months after he joined Liverpool in a £16m deal from AC Milan.
"There is absolutely nothing to this, it is just a hypothesis that I have never considered," was Benitez's reply. He then added that he believed Balotelli could yet make a success of his Anfield career, saying: "Liverpool fans are loyal - if he works in the field then they will support him."