Arsenal take the lead in Alves chase and close in on Dybala
Barcelona defender to choose Gunners over Man Utd, but McNair signs Old Trafford contract extension
The ongoing saga of Brazilian defender Dani Alves's future has taken another twist, one of the players who didn't switch clubs in the transfer window is back in the shop window, and could a former Premier League favourite be set for an unexpected return?
• Would Dani Alves really consider swapping Barcelona for Arsenal, a team that labours against Leicester? According to Metro, who cite sources in Spain, the 30-year-old full back is being courted by both Arsenal and Manchester United. But it's the Gunners who have apparently moved into pole position with Metro reporting that they will offer him "a contract within weeks". Alves is available on a free-transfer at the end of the season and it's claimed in Spain that he would like to see out his career in London. Arsenal are only too happy to give the Brazilian that opportunity, news that Metro says "will be a big blow to Manchester United" who earlier in the month were believed to ready to offer the veteran a three-year contract worth £100,000 per week.
• The Daily Mirror's reports that Paulo Dybala is poised to head to the Premier League. The 21-year-old Argentine striker, inevitably described by the Mirror as a "starlet", has allegedly fallen out with Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini to the point where relations are "beyond repair". As a result Dybala's agents are touting his services to Europe's finest with the Mirror claiming Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are all interested. It's said Palermo would expect £25m in return for the youngster who has no visa issues because of a Polish passport acquired on account of a grandfather who was born in the country. Of course Dybala was rumoured to be moving in January too, but nothing came of it then.
• One star of the Serie A not going anywhere is AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate. Linked with Arsenal and Liverpool in recent months, the 21-cap Italy international, has reportedly agreed to sign on for another term when his existing contract expires in the summer. The Daily Express says that Abate fell out of favour when Clarence Seedorf was in charge at Milan but since the arrival of Pippo Inzaghi in the summer he has been assured of his future at the San Siro.
• United boss Louis van Gaal has tied young centre-back Paddy McNair to Old Trafford with the young Northern Irishman penning a new deal that runs through to June 2017. According to Talksport the 19-year-old McNair is seen as a mainstay of the United defence for seasons to come, and van Gaal expressed his satisfaction at the new deal. "Promoting youth players is very important both to myself and to the club," he said. "I am delighted Paddy has signed a new contract."
• West Ham are edging closer to capturing Real Madrid midfielder, Lassana Diarra with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce confident a deal can be reached with the 29-year-old former Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid player. The International Business Times says Diarra has been without a club since leaving Lokomotiv Moscow last summer but West Ham have offered him a lifeline. Confirming that the Frenchman was training at Upton Park, Allardyce continued: "The deal is very close to being finalised and on the basis of where we are with our squad and the injuries, once we have him fit he will be a very good addition based on his previous record as a footballer." Diarra may be keen to return to football after false claims last year he had jacked it in to become a jihadist.