By Bill Mann
TOTTENHAM face an uphill struggle to hang on to Gareth Bale. The Daily Mail reports today that Barcelona are lining up a whopping £30m bid for the young Welshman, who they see as the perfect replacement to the aging Eric Abidal.
Past comments suggest Bale might be keen for the switch. “If you are talking about Barcelona or Real Madrid, two of the biggest clubs in the world, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream,” he said recently. “If you said to any young player that you could play for Barcelona or Real would they turn it down? Probably not.”
The 22-year-old joins Athletico Bilbao’s Javi Martinez and Iker Munain at the top of Barca’s hit list. Should Tottenham fail to make the Champions League, Spain may well prove too tempting for Bale.
Arsenal’s Flying Dutchman Robin van Persie will likely leave the Emirates in the summer if the club don’t make some major signings. That’s the verdict of former Gunner Sol Campbell whose talking is proving straighter than his passing ever did.
In an interview with Talksport, Campbell said Van Persie would be well within his rights to walk out on the club – as Campbell himself did in 2006 when he shamelessly abandoned Arsenal for Portsmouth of all places.
“If they don’t buy players he’s going to go, I think he’s going to feel there’s a lack of ambition at the club,” said Campbell, who knows all about lack of ambition from his days with Pompey. The former England defender added: “Arsenal need a few players who can make the difference, on the field and on the bench.”
One of those players could be Fulham frontman Clint Dempsey who, as we reported earlier in the week, is said to be on Arsene Wenger’s wishlist. Now the Metro says that the Cottagers are already planning for life without Dempsey by lining up an offer for Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, better known as the Terror from Trabzonspor.
The 26-year-old Yilmaz has netted 32 times in 30 matches for Trabzonspor in this season’s Super Lig and as a result Fulham boss Martin Jol has his heart set on the Turk. The Metro says a deal is likely although Fulham are dragging their feet about the £6m asking price, instead suggesting £4m might be a more reasonable figure.
Another man hoping for a swift resolution is Arsenal midfielder Yossi Benayoun. The 31-year-old joined the Gunners on loan from Chelsea last summer and has become an important squad member as he showed on Wednesday in scoring Arsenal’s third goal in the win over Wolves.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Benayoun admitted he had no idea where he would be playing his football next season. “I think it is difficult to speak now about the future. It is better to concentrate on the five weeks that are left and do my best for the club,” said the Israeli international. “I am fully committed to Arsenal and after we will see. After June 30, I am going back to Chelsea and then the club and I need to decide.”
Admitting that he still has a great affection for Chelsea, Benayoun went on to say that his spell at Arsenal has restored his self-belief after being overlooked at the Bridge. “When I came [to Arsenal], I believed in myself that I could play more,” he said. “I knew there are a lot of quality players but I was ready.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, have it all to do if they wish to land Chilean defender Igor Lichnovsky. The Mirror claims that the Blues are lagging behind Inter Milan in the race to sign the 18-year-old centre-back, a promising talent who has been nurtured thus far at Universidad de Chile. Apparently the Blues have been monitoring the progress of Lichnovsky for some time only for Inter to go and make a £2m offer for the defender.
Finally an offer is also in the air for Juventus winger Milos Krasic, which isn’t good news for Chelsea and Spurs. The Premier League pair have been linked to the 27-year-old Serb international but The Sun claims Turkish outfit Fenerbahce have offered Juventus £10m for Krasic and unless a bigger bid is put on the table in the next few weeks the deal will go through at the end of the season. ·