Kroos set for United, Robben wanted too: Manchester United have agreed to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos and are set to make a stunning move for his team-mate Arjen Robben, reports the Daily Mail. The Germany international has been on United's radar for some time, and a £20m deal was agreed when David Moyes was still in charge at Old Trafford. Moyes' successor Louis van Gaal, under whom Kroos played at Bayern, has now given his blessing to the move. The Dutchman will look to further exploit his ties with Germany by going in for his compatriot Robben, whom he took to Munich from Real Madrid in 2009.
Paper Round's view: Raiding former clubs isn't a new trick, and something Moyes tried to do last summer, with mixed results. He failed to lure Leighton Baines to Old Trafford, but managed to take Marouane Fellaini with him. Fellaini, however, is one thing, Kroos and Robben are entirely another. And this is what having Van Gaal on board will do for United; he comes with connections to players of the highest calibre and he has the ability to entice those players to join him. On the face of it Robben has no reason to leave Bayern, but Van Gaal may yet tempt him to do so.
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Liverpool close on Pedro: Liverpool's are lining up an audacious move for Barcelona star Pedro, reports the Daily Mirror. The Reds have been told that the striker, who is set to spearhead Spain's World Cup campaign in Brazil this summer, is available at the right price. Brendan Rodgers is keen to add a third world-class forward to his squad to compliment Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, and the 26-year-old "fits the bill", according to the paper.
Paper Round's view: It would certainly seem that Pedro is on his way out of the Nou Camp - he did not even feature in photos for the club's launch of the new home kit - although it is unclear what the right price is at the moment. That said, Rodgers has been told he has a substantial war chest to supplement his squad this summer, so money should not be an issue. This is a deal that could well happen. And what a scary front three Liverpool would be able to call on next season if it does.
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Toure wants post-retirement assurances from City: Yaya Toure needs Manchester City to prove they want him to stay at the club "for life" if he is to put the recent furore behind him, reports The Sun. The midfielder may quit the Premier League champions this summer after a row over birthday congratulations blew up yesterday, even though City have insisted they are not willing to sell up. But the Ivory Coast international needs to be shown he is a major part in their future, according to the report. A top source told the paper: “If they want Yaya to stay, they must show him he’s not going to be thrown away like toilet paper when his playing days are over.”
Paper Round's view: The most ridiculous story of the year shows no sign of slowing down with this latest insight pushing the limits of credulity. If this source is trustworthy - admittedly, there is nothing to suggest it is - it would appear that the contract he signed in April 2013, which still has three years to run, is not enough. He now wants to be looked after once his playing career is over. In what capacity exactly is unclear, but for a player who in theory still has such a long time to go before he hangs up his boots to start demanding post-retirement benefits beggars belief.
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City sanctions to be relaxed: Manchester City are expected to be allowed to include a reduced number of "home-grown" players in next season's Champions League squad. The Times reports that City will be able to name just five such players, despite other clubs being allowed to register a 25-man squad including a minimum of eight players classed as "home-grown". As part of City's punishment for breaching UEFA's financial fair play rules, they will be able to name just a 21-man squad next season, but a 13+8 ratio is unlikely to be imposed on the club. Instead, it appears that City may now be clear to field 16 foreign players, just one short of the usual figure of 17.
Paper Round's view: UEFA are in real danger of seeing their FFP rules becoming a laughing stock, at least in the blue half of Manchester where City's owners must be beginning to wonder how they've got away with it. This report comes from a reputable source and, if true, makes a mockery of the initial sanctions handed down to City. What will the club have learnt from their gross overspending and the subsequent rap on the knuckles? Absolutely zero. Pretty depressing for the rest of the league.
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City line up Benatia: Manchester City are set to make a move for Roma centre-back Mehdi Benatia as their top target Eliaquim Mangala drags his feet over a move to the Etihad, reports The Sun. Mangala has indicated he wants to wait until after France's participation in the World Cup before making any decisions on his future, so City have come up with an alternate solution in Benatia. The Morocco defender is rated at £30m by the Serie A club. A senior source at the Etihad told the paper: “We are still very keen on Mangala but the boy wants more time — and that’s up to him. But we won’t wait forever — there are a couple of other options and Benatia is a very interesting one for us.”
Paper Round's view: So, despite the sanctions, City's spending on foreign players goes on unabated. But, putting aside any moral issues raised by any further spending at the Etihad this summer for a moment, Benatia is more than an adequate 'alternative' for Mangala. Indeed, there is a case to be put forward that he is a better option, having starred in Serie A last season. The only problem is that Mangala appears to be available, while Benatia has four years remaining on his contract and Roma are adamant he is going nowhere.
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Gomis demands 100K a week: Newcastle have offered Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis £85,000 a week but the Frenchman is holding out for a £100,000 weekly salary, according to the Daily Mirror. The 28-year-old will become a free agent next month and has attracted attention from across the continent, with the Magpies having shown their interest during the last two transfer windows. Sunderland, Swansea and West Ham are also keen, but all three have baulked at his pay demands.
Paper Round's view: Proof if it were needed, that the football world has gone mad. Unless he's the new Thierry Henry, he's not worth that amount of money. As an untried and untested player in the Premier League, there's no way of knowing if he is or not, but £85,000 a week doesn't sound like too bad an entry-level salary for him. He may have a decent strike rate in Ligue 1 but, well, that's in Ligue 1. Newcastle need a new striker to prove to fans they can actually spend money in the transfer market, but they don't need to go silly for the likes of Gomis, who may well be aware of the situation at St James' and looking to capitalise.
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