Thursday 22 March 2018

Paper Talk: Milan-bound Balotelli, Chelsea chase Madrid defender and United after €30m Benfica star

Real Madrid's French defender Raphael Varane
Real Madrid's French defender Raphael Varane
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Manchester United feature heavily in today's papers while Jose Mourinho might be about to raid former club Real Madrid to solve Chelsea's defensive frailties.

The Daily Star reports that United are not giving up on signing Benfica winger Nicolás Gaitán. A 'verbal agreement' with Benfica over the Argentinian, who joined the club for €8.4m in 2010, had been mooted last week and the paper says that super-agent Jorge Mendes has been brought in to try and secure the attacking midfielder.

Gaitán has been linked with a number of clubs during the summer, with manager Louis van Gaal keen on bolstering his options following Angel Di Maria's departure and is a more likely transfer than Real Madrid's Garth Bale.

It is believed that Manchester is Gaitan's preferred destination, with Benfica holding out for a fee in the region of €30m.

The same paper tells readers the Red Devils have offered £2m for Odds BK's teenage winger Rafik Zekhnini.

Chelsea's uncharacteristic weakness at the back this season was expected to be solved somewhat by the signing of Everton centre-half John Stones.

The Blues conceded two goals at the Hawthorns yesterday in claiming their first win of the season, but again looked vulnerable and again captain John Terry did not see out the game after he was red-carded soon after the interval.

Many observers believe the Stones deal will be concluded before the transfer window closes next Tuesday, but The Daily Star is linking Mourinho with Madrid defender Raphael Varane.

The Chelsea boss is known to be a big admirer of the French international, but would cost significantly more than Stones to bring to Stamford Bridge.

The Mirror believes that Mario Balotelli could be set for a return to Milan to end his nightmare spell at Liverpool. The Italian striker has been told by Brendan Rodgers he has no future at the club and AC Milan GM Adriano Galliani has confirmed the club are in talks to bring Balotelli in on loan from Anfield.

Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has confirmed the club is on the verge of signing Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado on loan from Chelsea (Daily Mail) while a number of the papers are reporting that Southampton have told Tottenham Hotspur they can forget about signing midfielder Victor Wanyama.

They value the former Celtic man at £18m but are not interested in selling despite renewed interest.

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