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Liverpool eye Jackson Martinez: According to a report in the Express, Liverpool are lining up a £30 million bid for Porto striker Jackson Martinez as manager Brendan Rodgers continues to lose faith in mis-firing Mario Balotelli. The Colombian has found the net 72 times in 106 appearances for the Portuguese side, and it is now believed that he is looking for pastures new as he seeks a new challenge. The Express report that Liverpool could face stiff competition from Valencia, AC Milan and fellow Premier League side Arsenal, but the Reds are in pole position to sign the 28-year-old.

Paper round’s view: It appears that every top European striker has been lined up as Mario Balotelli’s replacement in recent weeks. Brendan Rodgers has admitted that the mercurial Italian striker hasn’t reached the levels that he’d hoped during his first few months at Liverpool, but believes that the 24-year-old will find his shooting boots. However, that isn’t to say that the Reds boss won’t consider his options if Balotelli does turn out to be a £16m flop, and Jackson Martinez, whilst untested in England’s top flight, certainly does have all the attributes to cut it in the Premier League. Whether the Kop bosses would fork out £30m on another striker in January to cover up the Balotelli mess is another thing…

Manchester United’s plan Layvin Kurzawa move: Manchester United are planning a £12 million move for Monaco left-back Layvin Kurzawa, according to the Daily Star. The newspaper quotes French news outlet Le 10 Sport, who claim that Old Trafford bosses are in early talks with the Ligue 1 side regarding a potential January move. In recent weeks it has been claimed that the Red Devils were lining up a bid for Real Madrid full-back Fabio Coentrao, with the Spaniards seemingly keen on allowing the Portuguese defender to part the Santiago Bernabeu. However, Madrid target, Bayern Munich’s Daniel Alaba, has recently picked up a long-term injury, so the Liga are reportedly no longer willing to let Coentrao leave for Old Trafford.

Paper round’s view: The faltering United have been linked with a number of defenders so far this season after consistently poor defensive displays. Injuries and indiscipline has seen the Old Trafford outfit forced into fielding young defender such as Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair, but, if reports are to be believed, manager Louis van Gaal will be given the funds to go out and strengthen his defence in the winter transfer window following a summer in which the Red Devils brought in a number of high-profile, mega-money attacking players. Kurzawa is an attacking left-back and French under-21 international, but is a very similar to player to United’s £27m summer signing Luke Shaw.

Villa tell United to forget about signing Ron Vlaar: Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has told Manchester United to forget about signing club captain Ron Vlaar in the January transfer window, reports The Telegraph. United have been linked with the Dutch international and were reportedly preparing a cut-price £6m bid for the 29-year-old , whose contract is set to expire in the summer. However, Lerner has said that he will resist any offers for Vlaar and teammate Fabian Delph during January as the club battles for Premier League survival. Villa risk losing the pair on a free in the summer, but the American owner believes that the loss of Vlaar and Delph would significantly weaken the squad ahead of a battle to retain the status in England’s top flight.

Paper round’s view: This could all go very, very wrong for Aston Villa, who could finish the season in the bottom three and then lose two of their most influential players on a free transfer in the summer. Randy Lerner is currently in the process of trying to sell the Midland-based club, so it’s no wonder he’s trying to keep hold of his best players, but the American could end up with egg on his face. United could potentially twist Villa’s arm with an offer that is simply too good to refuse, and yet still considered ‘cheap’. If reports are to be believed then Vlaar is off in the summer anyway, so why not cash in on the Dutchman and try to bring in some experience in January?

 

Race hots up for William Carvalho: The race to secure the signature of Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho is gathering pace, and now Liverpool have joined the chasing pack for the £37 million man. The Daily Star report that “Premier League rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all eager to land the defensive midfielder in January and were recently handed a boost as it was reported that the Portuguese club were willing to cash in while Carvalho’s market value remains high.” But now, with the future of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard up in the air, boss Brendan Rodgers is keen to bring in the 22-year-old.

Paper round’s view: Steven Gerrard recently admitted that he could be playing his football elsewhere next season, and would only sign a new Liverpool contract if the club wanted him to stay. Unsurprisingly, just two days later boss Brendan Rodgers admitted that he would like to keep the Reds captain at the club for at least another year. So, let’s just take that as Gerrard is staying at Anfield. However, the former England captain’s days are numbered, so Rodgers would be smart to try and bring in someone as a replacement for the one-club man – and having Gerrard as a mentor would certainly do no harm. Martinez even recently admitted that he would be keen on a move to the Premier League, saying: “We all have ambitions and I hope one day to play in the best leagues in the world, the English or Spanish. It was not this year, but if I continue to do my job as I have done so, it will certainly come sooner or later.”

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/s

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