Arsenal and Liverpool on alert as West Ham predict Reid exit
Sam Allardyce says the New Zealand defender has 'no future' at Hammers as he awaits offers
New Zealanders rarely dominate the headlines during the transfer window, but West Ham defender Winston Reid is the centre of attention after manager Sam Allardyce announced that he did not expect him to stay beyond the end of the season, prompting talk of a move to Liverpool or Arsenal.
The 26-year-old defender is out of contract in June and West Ham may be tempted to offload him before his deal runs out in six months, although the Hammers have had no approaches for the defender yet, according to the BBC.
But in what surely amounts to a pretty obvious 'come-and-get-him' plea Allardyce announced: "It's highly unlikely Winston is going to sign for us based on what people have said to me... There is no future for Winston Reid at West Ham at the moment."
Talking of defenders, Chelsea and Man United have been told that they must pay £20m if they want to acquire the services of highly-rated French centre-back Raphael Varane.
"Both teams are on the hunt for a new centre-back in January, and Varane has emerged as their top target," reports the Daily Express, which says Real Madrid are prepared to sell the 21-year-old to give another homegrown prospect, Nacho, a run in the side.
A new year and soon a new club for Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard but where will the 34-year-old midfielder be taking his ageing body next season? Not Qatar, claims The Sun, the paper reporting that Gerrard "has turned down an £18m offer" to spend his twilight years sunning himself in the Middle East.
The paper says that Al Gharafa, an outfit based in the Qatari capital Doha, had dangled an eye-watering two-year deal worth more than £170,000 a week in front of Gerrard's nose, only for him to kick it into the long grass. Instead, says the Sun, he is "set to join LA Galaxy in the summer", following in the footsteps of another underachieving England skipper – David Beckham. Galaxy won the MLS Cup last year with Gerrard's former Anfield team-mate Robbie Keane playing a prominent role in their success and it's believed the Liverpool skipper sees the west coast of the States as an ideal place to raise a family while pocketing huge amounts of cash in a gentle league.
Meanwhile Metro says that Liverpool are poised to make a £14.m offer for Valencia striker Paco Alcacer this month as manager Brendan Rodgers looks to bolster his firepower up front. The 21-year-old Alcacer has netted 10 times for his club this season but reports from Spain say negotiations between the player's agent and Valencia have "stalled" and the club would prefer to sell him this month rather than see him leave on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer.
However, The Sun believes Liverpool have their eyes on another striker, namely Saido Berahino and will make an offer for the West Brom forward once they have offloaded Italian Fabio Borini. Berahino will cost £23m says the paper, while Borini almost moved for £14m in the summer but turned down a switch to Sunderland. Since then he has spent almost all his time on the bench.
The Daily Star reports that Arjen Robben is on Manchester United's radar but says Bayern Munich will fight to keep hold of the 30-year-old Dutchman. According to the Star United boss Louis van Gaal is desperate to bring his compatriot to Old Trafford, having worked with him during his time in charge of the Holland squad, and a £24m offer is in the pipeline. That's set alarm bells ringing in Bayern and consequently Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge "has opened talks" on a fresh extension to the contract that Robben signed recently that was said to be worth £180k-a-week deal last year.
In other news, the future of Everton playmaker Ross Barkley is "set to become January transfer window's biggest domestic saga", according to the Daily Mail, with Manchester City sniffing around Goodison Park. The 21-year-old England international signed a new deal with Everton last year, increasing his weekly wage to £65,000, but that would be at least doubled were he to move to the Sky Blues. In the past Everton had rubbished suggestions that could sell Barkley, but the Mail claims the Toffees are "ready to consider selling" provided offers are in excess of £45m.
In other news Sky Sports is one of several media outlets to report that Newcastle have cancelled Hatem Ben Arfa's contract with immediate effect. The former France winger is expected to sign for Nice on a short-term contract once he's completed a medical today and the Magpies issued a statement saying the severance was by "mutual consent". The club added that they wish the 27-year-old "all the best for his future".
Finally, Lukas Podolski has said his goodbyes to Gooners ahead of his move to Inter Milan. The German forward – mysteriously unappreciated by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during his two and a half years at the Emirates – has run out of patience and decided to make a new life for himself in Italy. The 29-year-old spent the weekend inspecting Inter's facilities and then posted a message on his Instagram account confirming Arsenal fans' worst fears. "New year, new beginnings," he declared, alongside a picture with Inter boss Roberto Mancini. "I can't express in words my gratitude towards Arsenal fans for all they have done for me in my years in London... I've loved every minute playing for Arsenal and I hope I have left my mark on the club and fans alike. Hopefully we shall meet again."
Perhaps in next season's Europa League.