Premier League - Paper Round: United target death threat star
Manchester United are targeting a player who once received death threats for breaking an opponent's leg.
The Times reports that Alex Ferguson has been personally scouting Benfica's Belgian star Axel Witsel, a 23-year-old midfielder valued at over £20 million. Witsel only moved to Portugal from Standard Liege last summer; at his former club his life was threatened after he stamped on the ankle of Anderlecht's Marcin Wasilewski in 2009.
England's chances of success at Euro 2012 have been written off by no less an authority than Ryan Giggs. The Manchester United legend is quoted in the Daily Telegraph - who themselves quote Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport - responding to a question over whether England can win: "I can't see it," said the former Wales international. "They still don't have a coach and Rooney is suspended for the first two games."
After Chelsea were prepared to write a Blanc cheque to bring in Laurent Blanc yesterday, Wednesday's papers suggest that the Blues will instead have a Pep talk. The Daily Telegraph reports that Roman Abramovich's advisers have opened discussions with Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola to see what his plans are for next season. The Barca coach has only ever accepted year-to-year deals at the Camp Nou, so will be out of contract in the summer.
The Daily Mail reports that Steve McClaren could be in line to return to the FA, this time in the role of technical director. The same paper reports that Gareth Southgate is also in the frame, though he would have to give up his cushy job as a pundit.
Arsene Wenger is determined to avoid a repeat of the debacle last summer which saw Arsenal miss out on Juan Mata, and then scrabble desperately to sign Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker on transfer deadline day.
The Sun reports that the Gunners boss is getting his business done early this time around, and is on the verge of finalising the £11m deal to bring in Cologne's Lukas Podolski, while he is also getting an early start on possible moves for Ajax's £10m defender Jan Vertonghen, £6m Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud and £17m-rated Rennes playmaker Yann M'Vila.
The Daily Express claims that some of the biggest clubs in Europe are circling for Newcastle striker Demba Ba, who has been a revelation since signing on a free transfer from West Ham last summer. The 26-year-old has notched 16 goals so far this season - only Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero have more - with Chelsea and Tottenham among those ready to pounce.
The Daily Mirror reports that Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuellar could be on his way back to his native Spain. Valencia are to offer the former Rangers star a lucrative deal when his contract expires this summer.
Juventus are considering a fresh move to sign Chelsea's Raul Meireles (Daily Mail), Real Sociedad are keen on making their loan of Arsenal's Carlos Vela permanent (Daily Mail), Blackburn boss Steve Kean is interested in Bastia's Wahbi Khazri as a replacement for Junior Hoilett (Daily Mirror), while Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are all interested in Notts County's 18-year-old goalkeeper Fabian Speiss (Daily Mail).
And finally, Michael Owen claims in The Sun that he has "two or three years left" in football, the former England striker claiming that he is pleasantly free of the aches and pains suffered by most professional footballers of his 32 years.
Considering that he has made just 51 appearances in almost three years since joining Manchester United, and only played a full 90 minutes on half a dozen of those occasions, there seems no reason he shouldn't go on for a lot longer than that.