Paper Round: Van Persie's secret Barca meeting

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie held a secret meeting with Barcelona players and staff, according to Wednesday's papers.


The Daily Star and Daily Mail both run fuzzy, long-lens paparazzi shots of the player at the Marriott Hotel on London's Park Lane where Barca are staying ahead of their Champions League clash with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

The Dutchman's contract expires next summer, prompting widespread speculation that Arsenal may be forced to cash in or face losing him for nothing in 2013.

And the Star claims that the superstar's future "has been plunged into further doubt after he was spotted meeting Barcelona officials" at a hotel in London following the Gunners' defeat by Wigan on Monday. In Tabloidland, that obviously means he was negotiating a transfer rather than, say, catching up with old pal Cesc Fabregas, with whom he spent seven years at the Emirates. The Star almost begins frothing at the mouth at this point as it adds that RVP was apparently "still wearing his Gunners tracksuit" as he rushed to the hotel. Readers are clearly invited to infer that this was a move explicitly calculated to enrage and insult Arsenal fans by showing the player's desperation to get out of the club.

North of the border, the big news in the Daily Record is that Brian Kennedy is set to make a fresh bid to buy Rangers, despite the Sale Sharks owner having pulled out of the bidding a few weeks ago.

The move comes as administrators have begun to put pressure on the other bidders, Singaporean tycoon Bill Ng and American financier Bill Miller, to do a deal by the end of this week to stave off the threat of liquidation.

The paper also carries a poignant report that season ticket holders at Ibrox have been sent letters of explanation rather than renewal forms,

Manchester City are planning a £20 million move for Daniel Sturridge, a former City youth star who joined Chelsea three years ago, according to the Manchester Evening News.

With the futures of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, Aleksandar Kolarov and Nigel de Jong all in doubt, Roberto Mancini is expecting to make a few waves in the transfer market, and the 22-year-old England striker - who has been largely frozen out of the Blues since Roberto di Matteo took over - is on his hit list.

Also on that list is Le Havre teenager Jules Ntcham, aka the 'new Desailly', according to the Daily Telegraph. The midfielder, considered the most promising French player of his generation, has resisted signing a professional contract since turning 16, and is also considering offers from Internazionale, Juventus and Arsenal.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is to make a bid for Icelandic striker Gylfi Sigurdsson, according to The Sun. The 22-year-old has been in fine form since joining Swansea on loan in January, but the Welsh side are struggling to match Hoffenheim's £8m valuation to pull off a permanent transfer.

Manchester United are looking into a move for FC Copenhagen left back Bryan Oviedo, according to the Daily Mail, with the Costa Rica international seen as ideal cover for Patrice Evra.

Elsewhere, several papers run big piece around Mario Balotelli's quotes frmo Tuesday claiming that he will clean up his act in order to stay at Manchester City, the Daily Mirror claims Roy Hodgson will ask £3m for West Brom's wantaway striker Simon Cox this summer,

And finally, with 100 days to go until the Olympics, several papers report that David Beckham is a step closer to earning a spot in the British football team at the Games after being included in Stuart Pearce's 80-strong long list of players .

Other names on the list include Tottenham's Welsh star Gareth Bale, Wolves' Scottish striker Steven Fletcher and one of Beckham's fellow England veterans, Joe Cole.

There are no doubt decent footballing reasons for picking Beckham - he scored a screamer for LA Galaxy a couple of days ago - but the Daily Mail's Charles Sale claims that the main reason is to be found in the 1.5 million Olympic football tickets which remain unsold.

Jack Wilshere, however, looks like he will not be playing any part. The Telegraph reports that the Arsenal star, who will miss Euro 2012 through injury, has been persuaded by Arsene Wenger to put Arsenal's start of the season ahead of his dreams of playing in the Olympics.

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