Manchester United could be set to lure a second unsettled Arsenal star to Old Trafford in a matter of months, with the Daily Mirror reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson is considering a bid for Theo Walcott in January.
The news comes less than four months after United signed Robin van Persie for around £24 million. The situations are disturbingly similar for Arsenal, with Van Persie having failed to sign an extension to a contract that had just a year to run and Walcott now with only six months remaining on his current deal.
Walcott is believed to have rejected a new contract in the summer worth £75,000 a week. The England international has denied money is his motivation, instead claiming that he wants guarantees that he will be given an opportunity in his preferred striking role.
It is difficult to see how Walcott would fill that position at Old Trafford, with United currently enjoying a wealth of forward options. There could be an opening on the flanks with the Mirror reporting that Arsenal are interested in unsettled United winger Nani, although any potential exchange deal will surely be hampered by the Portugal international’s wage demands.
United would likely be far from the only club interested in Walcott, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all linked to the 23-year-old. If Walcott fails to agree a new deal then he could move for a cut-price fee next month or else leave on a free transfer in the summer. Walcott could also negotiate a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from January, with Italian champions Juventus also said to be monitoring the situation.
In other news, Metro is reporting that Manchester United could be set to miss out on rumored target Mehdi Benatia. The Udinese central defender has also been linked with Chelsea and Tottenham, but is set to sign for Serie A rivals Napoli in the January transfer window, according to Metro.
Benatia, 25, arrived at Udinese in the summer of 2010 from French Ligue 2 side Clermont.
United could also miss out on another player said to be admired at Old Trafford. TalkSport reports that left-back Lucas Digne has signed a new contract with French side Lille. Digne, 19, has represented France through the youth ranks up to Under-19 level.
There has been speculation of late that United’s left-back Patrice Evra could be headed for big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, although the 31-year-old has denied such talk. However, it is believed that Digne is seen as a potential long-term replacement for his fellow Frenchman.
Real Madrid are also listed as admirers, although Digne is now tied to Lille until 2017.
Manchester United are said to be interested in another youngster in German 16-year-old Jonathan Tah. The Hamburg youngster has been a fixture for Germany’s Under-17 side, while his Ivorian roots also make him eligible to turn out for the African nation.
According to TalkSport, German sources are reporting that both United and Arsenal are closely monitoring the central defender’s progress.