Man Utd face fight to keep Di Maria and Van Persie
Arsenal and Liverpool keen on Lavezzi but could miss out if he is used as Man Utd makeweight
Spare a thought for Ezequiel Lavezzi on Black Friday, as Paris Saint-Germain prepare to dress the player up "as bait" in their bid to land Manchester United winger Angel di Maria for a knock-down price in the summer.
The Daily Star claims that the French champions have their hearts set on Di Maria for next season and have come up with a cunning ruse to ensure they get their man. With Lavezzi allegedly "stalling on a new deal", PSG were planning set to sell the frontman, possibly to Arsenal and Liverpool, who had both interested in signing the 29-year-old Argentine. But that was before some bright spark in Paris hatched a cunning plan to bring winger Di Maria across the Channel in exchange for his fellow countryman.
Apparently PSG wanted to sign Argentine international Di Maria from Real Madrid last summer but were prevented from making an offer because they fell foul of Financial Fair Play restrictions. Though United have no reason to sell Di Maria, the Star says that PSG could weaken their resolve with a big money bid, plus Lavezzi as part of the deal.
United could also have a fight on their hands to keep striker Robin van Persie at the end of the season, reports the Daily Telegraph. The paper says that Roberto Mancini, who tried to buy the Dutchman when he was in charge of Man City, now wants him for his new club, Inter Milan.
United may not put up too much of a fight however, as Van Persie will only have a year left on his contract this summer and Old Trafford hierarchy harbours "concerns over his form and long-term fitness". Van Persie has managed just three goals under Louis van Gaal and touched the ball only 13 times against Arsenal last week, notes the paper.
Liverpool and Arsenal are said to be locked in a struggle for Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Metro reports that the pair have "received a boost" in their pursuit of the Spanish gloveman after he was dropped in favour of Keylor Navas for the Spanish club's Champions League match this week. Apparently Casillas is concerned he could be relegated to the bench, just as he was last season by the now-departed Diego Lopez, and could quit the Bernabeu next month.
With Simon Mignolet in horrible form this season Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers is desperate to find a replacement, while Arsenal have been in the market for a new keeper since time immemorial. They were linked with a move for Chelsea's Petr Cech last week, but reports from the Bridge say the Gunners have as much chance of landing Cech as they have going the rest of the season without any more serious injuries.
Meanwhile the Daily Express reports that Arsenal are "set to defy Manchester United" with an £8m bid for Aston Villa star Ron Vlaar.
Having done very little to defy United when the two teams actually played each other last weekend the Gunners are now girding their loins and priming themselves to pounce for the strapping Dutch defender, who is also wanted at Old Trafford.
The Express claims that the north London club will table an £8m bid and offer Vlaar "a considerable improvement to his £25,000 per-week wages". The news will come as a blow to United as manager Louis van Gaal was weighing up a January offer for the 29-year-old. Then again, the Express says the Old Trafford outfit are interested in "multiple defenders" including Raphael Varane, Aymeric Laporte and Winston Reid .
Finally, Goal.com reports that Swansea gaffer Garry Monk has brushed aside speculation that Michu could be on his way back to the Liberty Stadium after struggling to make much of an impact on loan at Napoli. As we reported earlier in the week, the Spanish striker has failed to hit the heights that he did in his debut season with Swansea, and two years on it seems Monk doesn't see Michu as part of his plans.
Monk said he was aware of Michu's injury problems but said there had been no talk about a return to South Wales. "I will focus on players here," Monk declared. "Michu made the decision to try a different challenge."