Hulk free to join Chelsea or Spurs: Zenit St Petersburg have agreed to let Brazilian striker Hulk leave the Russian club in the summer, leaving him free to join either Chelsea or Tottenham. The Daily Express reports that Hulk was not happy to see Italian coach Luciano Spalletti sacked by Zenit earlier this week after having already asked the club not to stand in his way if he gets an offer to leave this summer. The paper claims that a bid in the region of £40m would be enough to secure the player's services.
Paper Round's view: £40m would seem like a lot of money for a player who has been plying his trade in Russia for the past year and a half. That said, he's not been doing too badly over there, scoring at a rate of just about a goal every other game. And consider agent Shandor Varga's great quote on the subject: "English clubs still have the highest chance of acquiring him. For the UK's leading teams €50m (£40m) is not much money." And consider that Hulk was reportedly photographed in London the other day. Chelsea and Tottenham are both in London. It's all adding up, despite the monstrous amount of money being talked about.
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Ozil played injured for almost entire half: Mesut Ozil played through the pain of a serious hamstring strain for 43 minutes of Arsenal's draw with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, claims the Daily Telegraph. The Germany midfielder, who was withdrawn at half-time with the knock, was later lambasted for his performance but his lacklustre display may have been down to the fact he suffered the injury in just the second minute of the match. The paper reports that Ozil had never previously endured a similar muscular injury and actually believed that it was getting better, and that he was adamant he would have never given up and was actually playing through considerable discomfort.
Paper Round's view: Ozil's performance was truly dire and while it was common knowledge that he was injured after having been hauled off at the break, it was not clear just how much of the match he had played with the problem. It this report is to be believed and he did play pretty much the entire half in quite some pain, perhaps he can be forgiven for such an awful showing? In fact, should he not be lauded for his determination and desire to play on rather than pilloried and made a scapegoat? Interestingly, of the three papers which really stuck the boot in yesterday, the Daily Telegraph was one. The other two - the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror - have no word on this latest development.
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Ozil still wanted at Arsenal: Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reports that Arsene Wenger has held heart-to-heart talks with Ozil and reassured him that he is central to Arsenal's plans. The Gunners boss has spoken with the Germany international, told him his door is always open and been encouraging about how important he is to his long-term vision for the club, according to the report. Wenger has also told Ozil the demands of the Premier League will be easier for him to handle next season.
Paper Round's view: This is hardly surprising: Wenger's not going to give up on the player he spent £42 million on that easily. And maybe, in the light of some of the vitriolic things that have been written about Ozil of late, all he needs is his manager to put an arm around his shoulders and reassure him everything will be okay. Wenger himself has been subjected to pressure during recent times, so he of all people should know the value of seeing through rough times.
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Chicarito going nowhere: Javier Hernandez's agent has denied claims the Mexico international is planning to leave Manchester United for Inter Milan this summer and insisted there are no exit talks plans with David Moyes. The Daily Star reports that, despite rife speculation that the striker would swap Old Trafford for the San Siro in a deal that would also include 19-year-old midfielder Mateo Kovacic going the other way, Hernandez is staying put.
Paper Round's view: He might have started just four Premier League games under Moyes this season, but doesn't tell the whole story of Chicarito's importance to United. He's never been first choice at Old Trafford and most likely never will be, but his impact from the bench and as a squad player is crucial to the club. He accepted that role right since he arrived from Guadalajara in 2010; whether his stance has recently changed and he thinks it is time to further his career elsewhere remains to be seen, but his agent's comments - for what they're worth - are certainly encouraging for United fans wanting to see him stay.
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Zola may return to management at QPR: Gianfranco Zola is being considered as an option should Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp quits at the end of the season, the Daily Telegraph reports. There are big question marks over whether Redknapp will stay on at Loftus Road should the club miss out on promotion while, regardless of results, a knee problem could force the 67-year-old to review whether he wants to continue in management. Zola, who resigned as manager of Watford in December having lost out in last season’s play-off final, is known to be liked by QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, who has already stated he wants to work with the Italian.
Paper Round's view: Zola's one of the game's true nice guys and it would be great to see him back in management. Whether QPR is the place for him though is questionable. The way the club has been run is shocking and losses of £65.4 million last season could mean a big fine or a transfer embargo. That would lead to major cuts in the current squad of 30 first-team players - hardly an enviable situation to walk into for Zola. He should give that some serious thought if approached by Fernandes.
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