BEIRUT

Football

Liverpool eye Joleon Lescott as transfer target

Italian forward Mario Balotelli (L) vies with English defender Joleon Lescott during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA

BEIRUT: Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott is reportedly a transfer target of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, with the English champions preparing to sanction a deal should the Reds make their interest concrete.

Lescott enjoyed the most successful season in his career last year as City dramatically won the Premier League title in the last game of the season, and was one of the England players to star at Euro 2012.

But with City known to be eager to add to their defense this summer, Lescott could soon find himself forced out of the club, with Liverpool the likely destination for the former Wolves center back.

City boss Roberto Mancini is believed to have identified Newcastle’s Fabricio Coloccini and Liverpool’s Daniel Agger as replacements for the England international.

Both Coloccini and Agger have impressed since moving to English football and are consistently rumored to have been attracting interest from clubs across Europe.

Before joining City in a 22 million pound ($34.2 million) deal in 2009, Lescott was one of the star players of Liverpool’s fierce city rivals Everton.

Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles may be about to make a third summer transfer in a row, with the player believed to be emerging as a target for Italian side Napoli.

The Portuguese international enjoyed a fine debut season with the Blues, winning the Champions League and the FA Cup after sealing a move from Liverpool on deadline day last summer.

The player is currently away with Portugal preparing for their semifinal clash with Spain, and would not be drawn into speculation regarding his future.

“I am focused on the Euros and cannot think about my future now,” the heavily tattooed midfielder told English daily The Mirror.

Yet reports suggest that Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has already met with Meireles’ agent, and that the Copa Italia winners are hopeful of pushing through an 8 million pound ($12.4 million) deal.

France international Olivier Giroud has completed his move to Arsenal, with the striker believed to have cost the Gunners 13 million pounds ($20.2 million).

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed his delight at the capture, praising the player’s ability in the air and physical presence.

“We are delighted to have secured the signing of Olivier Giroud,” Wenger told the club’s official website.

“He has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic.

“We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season.”

The player passed a medical Monday evening, and the deal will officially go through when the summer transfer window opens July 1.

“I have always admired Arsenal with its great history and reputation, and I now hope to achieve great things here,” Giroud told Arsenal.com.

“I am very proud to be a Gunner and I will give my best for all the Arsenal fans.”

Bayern Munich’s pursuit of City forward Edin Dzeko looks to have been jeopardized by the player’s wage demands, with the Bosnian supposedly having priced himself out of a move to the Budesliga side.

Bayern are reportedly interested in signing a further striker to provide competition for Germany’s Mario Gomez, and had identified Dzeko as the ideal candidate.

The Daily Mail writes that the 26-year-old has told Bayern representatives that he would require wages of around 125,000 pounds ($194,800) a week to consider a move away from Eastlands.

The German club have now decided to focus their attention on Wolfsburg’s Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic who score three goals at Euro 2012.

An 8 million pound ($12.5 million) deal to bring the player to Bayern is expected to be completed in the coming days.

Tottenham forward Rafael van der Vaart has admitted he is still ‘in love’ with his former club Hamburg, with his comments intensifying speculation that the Dutch international could be set on a return to German football.

The player enjoyed three seasons with the club before moving to Real Madrid in 2008.

Speculation has been mounting that van der Vaart intends to seek a move back to Germany, where his wife is a successful media personality, with Schalke already having seen a 10 million pound ($15.6 million) for the Dutchman rejected by Spurs.

“I am happy and I am surprised myself how much I still love Hamburg, currently however there is no contact,” van der Vaart told German daily Bild.

“I spent three years living in Hamburg and had a wonderful time at HSV.

“My wife Sylvie works there and we have many friends who live in your country. In football you never know.”

 

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