Arsenal turn to enforcer Essien as Falcao eyes Man United exit
Gunners turn to former Chelsea midfielder, as Liverpool 'good guy' Balotelli faces competition from Origi
Is it August 2013? Arsenal fans could be forgiven for thinking it is after Arsene Wenger sent a misfiring striker on loan to Crystal Palace and was linked with a former Premier League midfielder at AC Milan. But this is 2015 and we're not talking about Marouane Chamakh and Mathieu Flamini, but Yaya Sanogo and Michael Essien:
• Could Michael Essien be the man to solve Arsenal's midfield problems? That's the question posed by the Daily Express. The paper claims that the former Chelsea midfielder, currently with AC Milan, could be a target for Arsene Wenger in the wake of a fresh injury crisis at the Emirates which has seen Mikel Arteta ruled out for three months. The 32-year-old Ghanaian's contract in Milan runs out in the summer and it's believed the Italian club would be prepared to do a deal this month rather than see him leave on a free in June. Asked about the possibility of a move to the Emirates, Essien's agent Fabrizio Ferrari said: "I don't think he [Essien] will extend his contract... it's difficult to predict what will happen."
• All it takes is one week without a game for a Premier League superstar to start pouting. That's according to the Daily Star which says Radamel Falcao, dropped from the Manchester United squad for last weekend's defeat to Southampton, now wants out of Old Trafford. "Falcao is livid at his treatment and now is eyeing up options elsewhere," says the paper, which names Roma and Juventus as possible destinations for the Colombian.
• One has to wonder what sort of forward planning goes on at Manchester United if the Daily Mirror is correct in its assertion that Van Gaal is about to be given a cheque for £150m. The paper says the United boss was due to meet with the Old Trafford hierarchy today to discuss his transfer plans. Why the meeting was scheduled halfway through the transfer window is unclear, but the paper says Mats Hummels, Kevin Strootman, Nathaniel Clyne and Seamus Coleman are all on Van Gaal's wish list. Shame he only has two weeks before the window closes.
• Inter Milan have joined the race to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Mario Suarez. According to Talksport the 27-year-old Suarez is high on Arsenal's list of priorities, as well as West Ham's, but the broadcaster reports that the pair "could now be forced to step up their bid to get their man". Reports from Spain suggest that Atletico have intimated that they could be willing to discuss terms with the Italian giants over a proposed move to Milan. Spanish rag AS claims that Inter are ready to offer €2m "to take Suarez on loan for the rest of the season" with an option to buy him outright for an additional €11m in June.
• Better news for the Gunners in Dutch paper De Telegraaf with Celtic centre-back Virgil van Dijk doing his best to attract the attention of the injury-ravaged Arsenal. The Netherlands Under-21 international was first linked to the Premier League club last year and when asked about the rumours, Dijk told the Telegraaf: "I am now 23 and have played at Willem II, FC Groningen and Celtic and am now linked to clubs like Arsenal. Isn't that great?" Admitting that the Scottish club were keen to hang on to him, the Dutch defender nonetheless declared: "We have to be realistic. If there's a nice club from England, we have to talk. I want to develop myself as a player."
• Talksport reveals that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has pooh-poohed the idea of releasing Mario Balotelli this month. Speculation has been growing of late that the Reds could offload the Italian striker just six months after his arrival from AC Milan. But that just ain't so, says Rodgers. "Mario is a good guy and he's come in here and not scored the goals he or we would have wanted, but we are determined to help him find the solution here," he said of the 24-year-old former Manchester City star. "So he certainly won't be going anywhere in January."
• BBC Sport reports that Liverpool boss Rodgers has held talks with Lille over the possibility of Divock Origi returning to Anfield this month. The 19-year-old frontman joined the Reds from Lille last year in a £10m deal but was immediately loaned back to the French club for this season. "There has been some discussion," said Rodgers when asked if Origi would play for Liverpool in the second half of the season.
• Besiktas are planning a "double transfer raid" on Chelsea, says the Daily Mirror with the Turkish club negotiating with the Blues to buy winger Mohamed Salah while they also hope to take 19-year-old Dutch defender Nathan Ake on loan.