BEIRUT

Football

Spurs, Gunners face off over Jovetic

Jovetic is the subject of a bidding war. AP Photo

BEIRUT: Tottenham and Arsenal look set to fight it out over Fiorentina star Stevan Jovetic. Jovetic is frequently compared to Italian legend Roberto Baggio, with the 22-year-old seen as one of the most talented young prospects in European football.

Arsenal are preparing for life without their captain and star player Robin van Persie, while Spurs are looking to add a striker of proven caliber to their attacking options.

With Manchester City, Juventus and Man United eyeing up the Dutchman, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is believed to have picked Montenegrin Jovetic as van Persie’s replacement.

While Jovetic is Wenger’s No. 1 target, the club are reportedly interested in Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski, despite the club having already splashed out more than 20 million pounds ($30 million) on forwards this transfer window.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud’s moves to the club were officially ratified last week, but the Gunners are keen to spend in order to challenge Man City and Man United for the Premier League title next season.

Van Persie has returned to London to attempt to deal with the fallout from his announcement to leave the club, with meeting scheduled with both Wenger and club CEO Ivan Gazidis.

The player was on holiday in the Caribbean last week when the statement confirming he would not be signing a new contract was released last week.

Gazidis and Wenger have slender hopes the Holland international can be convinced to stay in north London, but are keen to speak to the player without the presence of van Persie’s agent Kees Vos, seen as a disruptive influence by the club.

Spurs have similarly conceded defeat in their attempts to hang onto Croatian playmaker Luka Modric, with new Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas thought to have already decided to spend the majority of the anticipated 28 million pound fee on the Fiorentina forward.

Chelsea have reportedly re-entered the race to sign the 26-year-old, with Blues owner Roman Abramovich eager to hijack the player’s move to Real Madrid.

The club failed last year to recruit the diminutive Croatian, having bid some 40 million pounds for the talented midfielder.

Roberto Mancini is the Russian Football Association’s first choice to replace Dick Advocaat, with sources reporting that the Man City boss has been offered 35 million pounds to leave the Premier League champions.

City are keen for Mancini to remain in Manchester, and have been in negotiations with the Italian about a new contract for the past two months.

However, with no contract having been signed, senior figures in the Russian game are growing hopeful of Mancini leading the national team when Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup.

Mancini has just one year remaining on his current deal, yet City remain confident that the 47-year-old will remain at Eastlands, rebuffing reports that the Italian has agreed a deal with Russia.

“We’re having our discussions on his contract that started at the end of the season,” The Daily Mail reports a club source as saying, confirming that the Manchester City manager will accompany the squad on a preseason training camp in Austria.

“We think it’ll conclude in the coming days, get sorted and signed off.

“He’s definitely off to Austria on Sunday with the team, not Moscow!”

City appreciate that Mancini’s reputation has grown having delivered the FA Cup and Premier League title in successive seasons.

Yet The Mail reports that there is friction within the club over his growing power, and there was unhappiness at the way he blocked a longer pre-season tour of Asia that would have boosted City’s global profile.

Manchester United’s Park Ji-sung is expected to leave the club in the coming days, with the Korean all but having completed a move to Queens Park Rangers.

The fee bringing the midfielder to Loftus Road is believed to be as little as 2 million pounds, with The Guardian newspaper reporting that the player has been attracted by QPR’s plans for the future.

Park has been a reliable servant for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, having helped the club to four Premier League titles in addition to the Champions League after joining the club from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in 2005.

Ferguson has criticized Chelsea’s handling of Didier Drogba, claiming that the west London club are a weaker side without the Ivorian.

The United boss admitted to being stunned that more had not been done to retain the services of the player, who left Stamford Bridge in a move to the Chinese league.

“It is a big boost for us that he’s leaving,” the Scot said.

“Drogba won the Champions League against Bayern for Chelsea with that header. Only he could have done that.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 09, 2012, on page 14.

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