Premier League - Paper Round: A cock and Bale story?

The rapidly disintegrating spectacle of the title 'race' looks more like a lone runner sauntering to victory while his rivals trip over their shoelaces - leaving the Sunday papers floundering for something to write about this morning.

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Premier League - Paper Round: A cock and Bale story?
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Tottenham's Gareth Bale challenges for the ball against Inter Milan (Reuters)

While the 'quality' press goes big on Wales's Six Nations monstering of England, the Daily Star Sunday returns to what it does best - the flimsy transfer rumour.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has, the Star reports, placed a £70m price tag on Gareth Bale following an enquiry from Manchester United.

The story sadly lacks quotes or any real evidence, and is based on the following assertion: "The Daily Star Sunday has been told that United made a top-level inquiry for Bale ... But Tottenham’s valuation has discouraged United from pursuing their understandable interest in the Wales superstar."

By whom? Sir Alex Ferguson? Bale? The Old Trafford tea lady? Nayim? We are left to guess.

Or are we?

The Star's sister paper, the Daily Express, carried a similar story on Friday - again featuring a Manchester United enquiry, and again with the £70m price tag.

However, the Express cites Goal.com as its source - to be precise this story, published on Thursday, featuring all the details included in the Star's report, such as a possible £150,000-a-week contract from Spurs.

Has a national newspaper published a back page lead based on a three-day-old story from a website?

It's not for Paper Round to say, but added to the furore over The Times's Dream Football League 'exclusive' it has been a pretty tough week for newspaper journalism.

Elsewhere in the world of football rumours, the papers come up with these, to be taken with the requisite ladleful of salt.

It's generally accepted that when Brazil star Neymar comes to Europe from Santos, he will join Barcelona. But the Mail on Sunday claims Manchester City will try to gazump the Catalans with a bid exceeding the £50m being offered by Barca.

Today's Falcao story comes in the Sunday People, which claims Manchester City are set to break the British transfer record with a £52m bid for the Atletico Madrid striker.

And a final Manchester City story - Samir Nasri could be on his way out at the end of the season, with Paris Saint-Germain pursuing their interest in the Frenchman. The Sun claims PSG have already spoken to the player's father.

Brazilian midfielder Anderson is set to leave Manchester United in the summer, while Nani, Alexander Buttner and Anders Lindegaard's respective futures also hang in the balance. (Sunday Mirror)

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