Wenger wants Cleverley in Vermaelen deal: Arsenal will look for a part-exchange deal with Manchester United as part of club captain Thomas Vermaelen's proposed move to Old Trafford - and Tom Cleverly is the man they want. The Daily Mirror reports that Arsene Wenger is keen on midfielder Cleverley and also has an interest in World Cup defender Chris Smalling. The paper reports that United are hoping to do a £10m deal for Gunners skipper Vermaelen, with Cleverley and Smalling potentially acting as sweeteners to Arsenal, who may not want to sell to a direct rival.
Paper Round's view: So, Wenger has passed up the opportunity to sign Cesc Fabregas, but is interested in bringing Cleverley on board? There are some people who may suggest that Wenger is off his rocker. And they may have a point. Cleverley isn't a patch on Fabregas, but neither would he be even half as expensive. Wenger's always been cautiously shrewd in the transfer market (at least he was before last summer's blow-out on Mesut Ozil) and if he can land Cleverley in some kind of swap deal, it could turn out to be good business. The United midfielder is, after all, an England international, whose reputation as a promising young player was intact before the David Moyes debacle. Indeed, he became something of a scapegoat for Moyes' reign, perhaps somewhat unfairly. If Wenger can coax him back to some kind of form in an Arsenal shirt, this move may not be as crazy as it sounds.
- - -
Gunners step up Balotelli interest: Arsenal are ready to pay £25m for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, according to another report in the Daily Mirror. The paper revealed two weeks ago that the Gunners have been offered the Italy international, given the Serie A club's financial problems. French side Monaco are also interested, but a top striker remains a priority for Arsenal this summer. Balotelli fits the bill.
Paper Round's view: Bring him back. The Premier League has been a poorer place without the enigmatic Balotelli; his high jinks both on and off the field were a joy to behold when at Manchester City and they have been sorely missed. He might even be a better player now than he was at City, and if Wenger can get him to curb his antics somewhat (he will surely want to, even if the neutral would never want to see that part of him be stifled), Balotelli may well be what the Gunners have been searching for.
- - -
Costa confirms Chelsea move: Diego Costa has confirmed he will move to Chelsea after the World Cup. The Sun reports on its back page that the Spain striker knows where he will play next season with the Blues set to meet the release clause in his contract. That stands at £32m, and if met, Atletico Madrid can do nothing to stop the player from moving.
Paper Round's view: Nothing new here.
- - -
Rooney place in doubt: Wayne Rooney's place in England's starting line-up for the Uruguay match is under threat, according to the Times. Rooney was "subjected" to additional, intensive training yesterday, only fuelling speculation he will start on the bench on Thursday. The Manchester United striker trained with a group comprising of the substitutes from the defeat to Italy, rather than the rest of the starting XI, who had a much shorter session. The paper adds that Rooney was not replaced in the latter group.
Paper Round's view: Will he, won't he? The papers are looking for any clue, no matter how small, in the national Rooney debate. The key here is, though, that he was not replaced in the main 'starting' group. And the FA later tweeted the following, which may help to explain what happened at training:
- - -
Blind on United radar: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has told club officials that he is interested in yet another Dutchman, Daley Blind. The Daily Star reports that the Netherlands coach has been impressed with the versatile Dutchman, who laid on Robin van Persie's wonder goal against Spain, at the World Cup and is now a serious candidate for a move to Old Trafford.
Paper Round's view: Any Netherlands player (and any Bayern Munich player, for that matter) to shine at this summer's World Cup will inevitably be linked with a move to United. Blind is certainly a decent player who could do well under the guidance of LvG at Old Trafford, but such is the amount of speculation about who United will sign this summer, it's difficult to take any of it seriously at the moment.
- - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Arsene Wenger
- Thomas Vermaelen
- Wayne Rooney
- Chris Smalling
- Cesc Fabregas
- Old Trafford