The Sniffly Gossip

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BENFICA PAIR SET FOR PREM MOVES
It’s approaching that time of the year when the most talked about men in football become not the player, but the agent. Of course, whenever a football agent is mentioned, ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes is always nearby with cape at the ready. The man behind the transfer of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and many, many more last summer looks to be at the centre of things again this time around.

And so to reports emerging on Friday evening and into Saturday. Portuguese newspapers O Jogo and A Bola claim that Mendes has flown into England in order to assist Benfica president Filipe Luis Vieira with the sales of two of their prized assets.

The first in question is Nicolas Gaitan, who has long been linked with a move to the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool for the last three years. The local press reports that his buyout clause of around £25million is beginning to interest clubs on these shores, including United. Considering the signing of Memphis Depay, we’ll rule that one out.

Chelsea are also claimed to hold an interest in the 27-year-old, while Valencia, Granada, Hamburg, Celtic, Reading and Sassuolo complete possibly the most random list of clubs who have reportedly sent scouts to watch the winger.

But it’s the story involving Benfica’s other star which seems more plausible. Eduardo Salvio has long been rumoured to be a target of Liverpool, but with Raheem Sterling’s future uncertain to say the least, the 24-year-old winger with 10 goals in 34 appearances this season has apparently already been earmarked as his replacement.

OTAMENDI A DONE DEAL
We’re sticking continental this morning and next up we take a look at our good old friends Marca. The Spanish publication are reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal to sign Valencia centre-back Nicolas Otamendi.

The Argentinian was supposedly on a list of central defensive targets both last summer and this winter, but Marca believes the offer of a 150% wage hike to a deal worth around £3.5m a year has finally tempted the 27-year-old to join the Red Devils. His buyout clause stands at close to £30m, but United are more than willing to splash the cash and Otamendi would solidify a defence which has many a question mark looming over it.

The spanner in the works of the deal is provided by Valencia based paper Superdeporte, who insist that Otamendi is happy at Los Che and is seeking a new contract with the Champions League bound club.

ARSENAL TARGET LYON DUO
Our final port of call is provided by a far more familiar name. According to the Daily Star, Arsenal are considering signing Lyon stars Alexandre Lacazette, 23, and Nabil Fekir, 21, in a combined deal worth £60m.

The claims come after chief scout Steve Rowley was sent to watch Lyon’s Ligue 1 game at the weekend, in which Fekir scored. Apparently they both impressed enough to convince the Gunners to shell out huge cash this summer.

Lacazette, outscored by only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in Europe’s big leagues this season, is sure to be in demand after almost firing Lyon to the Ligue 1 title with 27 goals. Arsenal perhaps need another striker, but is Lacazette that man, and is he proven enough? As for Fekir, it wouldn’t be like Arsene Wenger to sign another attacking midfielder at all, would it?

BEST OF THE REST
Robin van Persie has had crunch talks with his agent as his Old Trafford future hangs in the balance…Derby want Steve McClaren to quit and clear the way for a new manager…Arsene Wenger has told Barcelona Aaron Ramsey is not for sale…Garry Monk insists his Swansea stars are going nowhere this summer…Ron Vlaar is set to complete a major U-turn and stay at Aston Villa…Manchester City are overwhelming favourites to sign Raheem Sterling and will bid £45m for the Liverpool forward when the transfer window opens….Southampton are already preparing for the probable departure of Morgan Schneiderlin.

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