Hart targeted by Real: Real Madrid are set to make a sensational £25 million summer bid for Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, according to an exclusive in today's Daily Star. The report claims that the England international has been added to the Spanish giants' wanted list as they prepare to shake up their goalkeeping department. Iker Casillas has dropped down the pecking order at the Bernabeu while current number one Diego Lopez has failed to convince Carlo Ancelotti he is a long-term solution. Recent comments by Hart have given Real belief that they have a genuine chance of luring him to Madrid this summer if the price is right.
Paper Round's view: Speculation over Hart's future has understandably been rife since his axing earlier in the season and his admission earlier this week that he has still not got over his treatment has done nothing to dampen that. But unless City can attract a big-name replacement for Hart - Victor Valdes of Barcelona appears to be the biggest and most likely at the moment - there seems little point in him leaving, nor City allowing him to go. The fact that Hart shares the same agent as Gareth Bale - as the report points out - should have no bearing at all on the player's future.
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Gunners already planning for Wenger exit: Arsene Wenger is ready to sign a new two-year deal as Arsenal manager, but the club are beginning to plan for life after him, reports the Daily Mirror. The deal is agreed in principle, according to the article, and Wenger is preparing for next season by discussing transfer targets, improvements at the training ground and player contracts. The next two years would give Arsenal time to line up potential replacements, with Juergen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez and Wenger's current number two Steve Bould "likely to be on their list".
Paper Round's view: Of course it's prudent for Arsenal to begin to think about the post-Wenger era, and nothing too much should be read into that. He will leave the Emirates before too long, that much is sure, and the better prepared the club are for that, the easier the transition should be. That said, given Manchester United's recent travails in replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsenal could face a similar struggle to replace a man who has been in charge of the club for so long, no matter how much forward thinking there has been.
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Red card 'wiped from history': Most papers are up in arms over the Arsenal red-card cock-up, after it emerged that neither Kieran Gibbs nor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be suspended for Tuesday's game against Swansea and bungling referee Andre Marriner is free to officiate at the weekend. It had been widely expected that Marriner would be demoted after he sent off the wrong man, but the Premier League have decided to stick by him. "The decision makes it almost as if the incident during Arsenal’s 6-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday never happened," one report states.
Paper Round's view: While the verdicts over the two players are understandable - the ball was missing the target, so Oxlade-Chamberlain didn't deserve to be dismissed, while Gibbs was not involved, so his red card should be rescinded - the decision to give Marriner another top game at the weekend is strange. Getting a decision wrong is hardly an axe-able offence, but to compound the mistake by sending the wrong player off - and then refusing to change his mind when confessions were made to his face - surely warrants at the very least a week off duty. As a result, his performance during Southampton's clash with Newcastle is now sure to be heavily scrutinised.
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Wenger to bid again for Bender: Arsenal are preparing to make another bid for Bayer Leverkusen's Lars Bender in the summer, reports the Daily Mail. The Gunners failed with a £19m bid for the midfielder last summer but remain impressed by the Germany international and keen to bring him to the Emirates. The 24-year-old is seen as a long-term replacement for Mikel Arteta. Arsenal are also interested in Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, but the paper claims there is a feeling that Bender will be easier to land.
Paper Round's view: If Wenger is indeed winding his career down and he wants to be able to pass on a lasting legacy to his successor, Bender would be a great signing. Young, talented and seemingly in possession of what Arsenal have lacked for too long - a willingness to do the dirty work in the middle of the park - the Germany international could be one of a core group to ease the changing of the guard in north London.
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Spurs target Lukaku: Tottenham have made Chelsea-owned Romelu Lukaku one of their top transfer targets, according to the Daily Telegraph. The Belgium international has spent the season on loan at Everton, scoring 12 times, and the striker has left Spurs impressed. Daniel Levy offered Emmanuel Adebayor as part of a swap deal last summer, but will come back at the end of the current campaign with a more serious offer. Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez and Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy are other options for Spurs, but Lukaku is ahead of them on the wanted list.
Paper Round's view: Lukaku's form has made him one of the hottest properties operating in the Premier League at the moment and Chelsea will be sure to demand a decent transfer fee if they are to allow him to leave. That means a significant increase on the £17m they paid for him from Anderlecht in 2011, probably in the region of £25m. But considering Tottenham paid £26m for Roberto Soldado in January, they should not baulk at that kind of money for Lukaku, a player of proven Premier League experience.
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