Premier League - Paper Round: United to move for Arsenal star

Manchester United are to swoop for an Arsenal star; Liverpool will bid £20m for a Premier League striker; and Aaron Ramsey could be about to leave the FA Cup winners – the top stories from the morning’s papers.

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Premier League - 'Party animal' van Gaal the perfect fit for United
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‘United to swoop for Arsenal star’ - Manchester United are poised to go head-to-head with rivals City for Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna next week, according to the Daily Mail. In what is branded an ‘exclusive’ the paper says it understands overtures from Old Trafford to the Frenchman's representatives have been made over the last 48 hours. Sagna will reportedly hold formal talks with Manchester City representatives next week with a view to a four-year deal worth a minimum of £100,000-per-week. The Etihad Stadium club are understood to be well advanced in their interest in the France international - but United now look likely to pip their city rivals to his signing.

Paper Round’s view: Next United boss Louis van Gaal is believed to have identified Sagna as the man he wants to contest the right-back slot with Rafael, who has endured a very mixed campaign with the position as his own. Stealing Sagna from under City's noses would be a spectacular way of announcing himself to the United faithful, with the defender’s abilities not in question at Premier League level. Will City offer enough to put their rivals out of the running? It’s more unlikely than it would have been previously, while Pablo Zabaleta has enjoyed another stellar campaign in the position. Sagna would be a perfect fit for United to ease the pressure off Rafael.

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Liverpool target £20m-rated Prem striker’ - Brendan Rodgers wants to make Wilfried Bony his third big Liverpool striker next season, according to the Sunday People. Kop boss Rodgers is in the £20 million race for the Swansea goal machine, who he believes is the ideal signing over the summer. Bony fancies a move to play in the Champions League – and that gives Liverpool a major advantage over their rivals, including their neighbours Everton and new FA Cup winners Arsenal. And Swansea will deal if they get the right price for the Ivory Coast World Cup star they signed last summer.

Paper Round’s view: It makes complete sense that Rodgers wants a new face to compete with the SAS partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge with the Uruguayan inevitably set to be a transfer talking point all summer with Real Madrid understood to be very interested. Liverpool have the cash to buy Bony and the money to give him a big contract hike. The final obstacle will be if the 25-year-old is happy with a squad place at this stage of his career – and the signs are Bony would accept that.

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‘Bayern eye move for Arsenal hero’ – Bayern Munich are preparing to make a stunning summer move for Arsenal midfielder and FA Cup final hero Aaron Ramsey, according to a report in the Daily Star. Another Sunday ‘exclusive’, the paper report that the Bundesliga club’s boss, Pep Guardiola, tried to sign Ramsey, 23, while in charge at Barcelona and has maintained an interest in the stylish Wales international. Barcelona have also watched Ramsey in six games this season as the Spanish club start to assess how they will fill the gaps that will be left once Xavi, 34, and Andres Iniesta, 30, retire. But it will be Guardiola who attempts to persuade Ramsey to leave Arsenal over the summer and move to Bavaria.

Paper Round’s view: It is certainly likely that the likes of Guardiola would be very interested in signing the Welshman, who has enjoyed a standout season, scoring 15 goals in 33 games for the Gunners – including one against Bayern’s rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. He was the driving force behind Arsenal’s fantastic start to the Premier League campaign but was injured in a win over West Ham on Boxing Day and was ruled out for three months. It’s very rare in football for loyalty to be a factor, but he may just feel that towards Wenger after he kept faith in him through the dark days of his double leg fracture.

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‘City identify top midfield target’ - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is pushing ahead with the signing of Porto’s £20 million midfielder Fernando as he devises a strategy to win the Champions League next season with just 21 players, according to the Daily Mail. Pellegrini plans to base his next European campaign around the Brazilian — one of the best holding midfielders in the world — after accepting that the team need to tighten up following three successive Champions League failures. Fernando, 26, is regarded as a particularly important acquisition by Pellegrini, who privately acknowledged after the club’s Champions League exit to Barcelona last season that he might have to be more  cautious in big games to succeed against Europe’s elite.

Paper Round’s view: City are determined that Friday’s punishment by UEFA for breaking Financial Fair Play rules, consisting of a heavy fine and squad restrictions, will not alter their ambitions for next season and Fernando has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Etihad. Pellegrini’s plan would surely be to use Fernando as a defensive midfield player, allowing Fernandinho and Yaya Toure to play ahead of him. That would mean City playing with just one striker in a 4-1-4-1 system for some European games. The City boss clearly feels that Fernando is the answer because of his willingness to help protect the defence at all times and that could be the key to the club finally representing a more solid force in the Champions League.

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