Serie A - Papers: City and Chelsea target Pirlo

Fri, 25 Mar 10:16:00 2011

Chelsea and Manchester City are set for a battle to sign AC Milan midfielder superstar Andrea Pirlo, according to a report.

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With the 31-year-old approaching the end of his contract, the Daily Mirror reports that the two big-spending clubs will throw everything into trying to secure the Italian's services.

Carlo Ancelotti tried to sign him last year and is still keen, while Roberto Mancini reportedly sees him as the sort of creative midfielder that is thin on the ground at Eastlands. The impending bidding war for the player named man-of-the-match in the 2006 World Cup final is likely to see Pirlo become one of the best-paid players in the world.

Also set for a tug-of-cash is Roma defender Philippe Mexes, who is refusing to sign a new contract at the Serie A side in order to bag himself a juicy deal elsewhere.

The Sun claims that Liverpool and Arsenal are the two sides reportedly circling the Frenchman, thanks in part to the fact that both have been somewhat put off Gary Cahill due to the £15 million price tag slapped on him by Bolton.

Eight of Aston Villa's players are considering walking out on the club over draconian new measures introduced by Gerard Houllier.

The Daily Mail reports that Villa's top stars are so enraged by the nature of Houllier's discipline crackdown that they are to force moves away from the club unless things change.

Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stiliyan Petrov, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Brad Friedel, Luke Young and Stephen Warnock are among the players infuriated by the measures, which include a ban on mobile phones in the dressing room, huge fines (of potentially £10,000 and more) for turning up late to training and a ban on players contacting club owner Randy Lerner without Houllier's permission.

Following a radio interview given by Bob Wilson, several papers report that Arsenal made desperate attempts to sign Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Arsene Wenger has furrowed many a brow with his apparent reluctance to splash out on a top keeper, but Gunners legend Wilson told TalkSport that the Frenchman had tried to push the boat out for the Reds' gloveman.

"Arsene tried like mad last summer to buy not only a goalkeeper, but what he considered the most consistent in this country. So he made a big bid for Pepe Reina," said Wilson.

But the former Arsenal goalkeeping coach reckons that Wenger won't try for the Spaniard again, given the progress of 20-year-old Wojciech Szczesny.

"I believe he is going to be the future. It's most unfortunate he has had this injury and in the game that he had it, but I happen to think Szczesny is going to be a great goalkeeper," he added. "'The boy is ready now."

Speaking of top clubs' goalie woes, Manchester United have been linked with every half-decent keeper in the world ever since it emerged that Edwin van der Sar would be retiring at the end of this season.

Spanish youngster David De Gea is the current favourite, and the odds of that have apparently increased after Germany and Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer seemingly ruled himself out of making the move, telling German media that the only reason he'll be leaving Germany is to go on holiday.

"I get the chance to travel abroad twice a year. During the summer holiday and again in the winter holiday," said Neuer. "Is it crucial for a player to play abroad at one point? Some players seem to think so, but I disagree."

Van der Sar is unlikely to be the only big name leaving Old Trafford this summer, with the Daily Mail reporting that Wes Brown is among those who could be off. The 31-year-old reportedly had a bust-up with Alex Ferguson last summer, and is to shop around for a club that may be willing to offer him a new deal.

The Daily Star claims that Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will make a £15m summer move for Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner, while the Daily Express reports that William Gallas is to get a new contract at White Hart Lane. The Star also writes that Harry Redknapp's attempts to sign 18-year-old Nigerian starlet Ahmed Musa from Dutch side VVV Venlo could be scuppered by competition from Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.

And finally, Frank Lampard could have played his final game of football in an England shirt.

The Metro reports that the England midfielder is set to be axed from the side to face Wales this weekend, and is apparently coming to the conclusion that he is no longer fit enough to play for his country.

At 32 he'd still be a spring chicken in the average Italian international midfield, but apparently Lamps's run of injuries over the last year or so have convinced him that he'd be better off resting up than travelling all over the place with England.

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