In Brief

Man United close to Alves deal, Liverpool eye Lavezzi

Barcelona defender could be on his way to Old Trafford as soon as January

Barcelona full-back Dani Alves is "in advanced talks" with Manchester United about a shock new year move to Old Trafford. According to Metro the 31-year-old veteran defender "has asked to leave Barca" in January and United are closing in on a deal.

United's dodgy defence has added urgency to Louis van Gaal's hunt for a reliable blocker and it seems the Dutchman may have found him in the Brazilian from Barcelona. Liverpool and Chelsea have both been linked to Alves in recent months but Metro claims the South American has "set his heart" on a switch to United.

If Liverpool do miss out on Alves then they may be able to console themselves with Paris Saint-Germain frontman Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Daily Star says that the Reds are quietly confident of signing the 29-year-old Argentine hitman having narrowly failed to bag him in the summer. On that occasion Lavezzi remained in Paris but the Star says Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will try again in January with a bid believed to be in the region of £30m. Arsenal are also rumoured to be interested in Lavezzi and the Star claims Rodgers will face competition from the Gunners.

In other news the Daily Express says that Spurs are hopeful they can retain the services of Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen despite rumours suggesting he is "angling for a move" away from the Lane in January. Speculation has been mounting in recent weeks that Vertonghen wants out of Spurs having been overlooked for the captaincy and dropped for the recent clash against Manchester City. But manager Mauricio Pochettino says it's all just idle gossip. "I never hear from Jan he wants to leave or change something," he said when asked about the rumours. "He is happy at Tottenham. Maybe sometimes he wants to play more but my role is to take these decision. He is happy and I'm happy with him."

After Arsenal's sensationally streaky 2-1 win at Anderlecht, might Arsene Wenger have another birthday present waiting for him? Possibly, according to German rag Bild. Yesterday, the day the Nutty Professor turned 65, it ran an interview with Stuttgart defender Antonio Rudiger who owned up to being a massive Arsenal fan and admitted: "I have been following the club since the days of Bergkamp and Henry, since I was a child. I watched videos on YouTube of Arsenal... I have the current Alexis Sanchez shirt." 

The disclosure will surely dent Chelsea's hopes of signing the 21-year-old, said to be in Jose Mourinho's wishlist, and encourage Wenger in his January pursuit of the young international centre-back. Though he contracted to Stuttgart until 2017, the club's gaffer, Armin Veh, said recently: "I understand that big clubs are chasing him. But a move will only be considered for Antonio if he joins a really big outfit. Otherwise, it would be better for him to stay at our club."

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