Thank goodness, then, for Real Madrid sporting director Zinedine Zidane, who rescues a desperately bad day of rumours by running his mouth about Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale on Monday morning.
Like an exquisitely performed pirouette to slam a volley into the top corner in a Champions League final, Zizou demonstrated perfect timing to provide Paper Round with some rather intriguing thoughts on a player who is believed to be top priority in the transfer market for Madrid this morning.
And after Bale scored 26 goals in all competitions and swept the individual player awards, the former France international feels some outsized cheques could be arriving at Tottenham’s club offices this summer.
“The talk about Gareth Bale is not a surprise,” said Zidane following a charity game. “It is impossible to have the season he just had and not be linked with the biggest clubs in Europe.
“If any club is going to tempt Spurs, then it will take big money – maybe even record-breaking money. There are four or five clubs at the moment who have the finances not to be put off by a record-breaking fee like that.”
So, there you have it. Zidane speculating about breaking the transfer record of £80 million to sign Bale for Real Madrid. A good start to the day, but it’s downhill from here.
Next up, the Telegraph, who leap on Sunday’s news that Borussia Dortmund have told Robert Lewandowski he will not be allowed to join Bayern Munich this summer.
After Dortmund president Hans-Joachim Watzke informed Bild that “Lewandowski will definitely not go to Bayern in 2013, this is final”, the newspaper speculates that the Poland international could instead move to Manchester United after all.
Given Lewandowski has already publicly confirmed he has an agreement with Bayern, this may be a case of wishful thinking, and the report elaborates on the situation with a rather cautious tone.
The Telegraph reports: “That may merely delay the inevitable as Lewandowski will be out of contract at Dortmund next summer and free to join Bayern at that time, but it could also give Manchester United renewed hope of landing the striker, one of the hottest football talents in Europe.
“United have previously expressed an interest in signing the Poland international, but the player himself appeared to be determined to follow his Dortmund team-mate Mario Goetze to Munich. Manchester City and even Chelsea may also look to exploit Dortmund’s reluctance to lose one of their best players to the side that defeated them in both domestic and European football this season, most notably the Champions League final at Wembley last month.”
Arsenal are another English club doing battle with a European giant as they continue their attempt to prise Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid this summer in a transfer that definitely has ‘saga’ potential.
The Daily Mirror writes: “Italian giants Juventus have made a last ditch bid to snatch Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain. Juve held face to face talks with Real Madrid striker Higuain’s father and agent Jorge yesterday as they are keen on the Argentine striker. But Juventus claim no deal can be done until Real Madrid appoint a new manager with Carlo Ancelotti favourite to replace Jose Mourinho.”
Mind you, if Juventus do sign Higuain then it could well leave the path clear for Arsenal to sign their other attacking target Stevan Jovetic, who is also coveted by the Italians. For Arsene Wenger, it might be a case of waiting for the Old Lady to make her move and then reacting accordingly.
Chelsea are shopping in Italy for a new striker and, according to the Daily Express, Napoli’s new manager Rafa Benitez has informed the club he will let Edinson Cavani move to Stamford Bridge if he can be reunited with Fernando Torres once again.
The paper reports: “Benitez, now Napoli manager following his interim job at Chelsea, has told owner Aurelio De Laurentiis that he would be happy if the Serie A club could get Torres plus cash in exchange for Cavani – the £53 million Uruguay striker who is top of Jose Mourinho’s shopping list. Napoli are resigned to losing Cavani if the asking price is met. Chelsea regard that as too high, having had an opening £40m enquiry rejected last week, but are prepared to exchange players.”
Liverpool, meanwhile, are targeting a Barcelona star, in a manner of speaking. The Daily Mail reports Brendan Rodgers is close to doing a deal for Sevilla winger Luis Alberto, who has been on loan at Barcelona’s B team this season. He could cost around £5 million.
In further ‘club linked with player you’ve never heard of’ news, Manchester United are interested in Monaco midfielder Nampalys Mendy, according to the Daily Mail. Monaco might be throwing money about like Michael Jackson at an auction of weird antiques but the player imaginatively nicknamed ‘the new Makelele’ apparently fancies a move to Old Trafford, even if the mighty Nice are interested too.