Arsenal join Carvalho chase, and is Morata deal back on?

Gunners after Man United midfield target as Barcelona tipped to move for Nemanja Vidic

(Image credit: 2013 AFP)

THERE was a time when Arsenal's chances of beating Manchester United to the hand of a European hotshot were about as good as Sunderland's, or Swansea's, of beating the Red Devils in the cup. But with United falling faster than the rain over Somerset, ITV claims that Arsenal are the favourites to sign Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho even though David Moyes has been tracking the midfielder for months.

It appears that Arsenal began to take an interest in Carvalho last month when they despatched Francis Cagigao to Lisbon to watch him in action for Sporting. As ITV notes, Cagigao is the man who discovered Cesc Fabregas in Barcelona's academy and Arsene Wenger still values his judgment a decade on.

The 21 year-old midfielder has been described as the nearest thing Arsenal are ever likely to find to a new Patrick Vieira because of what ITV says is his "unique ability to shield the ball and an incredible turn of pace". Carvalho made his debut for Portugal against Sweden in November's World Cup qualifier and it's believed Wenger is poised to trigger the youngster's £37.5m release clause in his contract.

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Yesterday it was reported that all bets were off regarding Real Madrid's young striker Alvaro Morata, but 24 hours is a long time during the transfer window, and now the Daily Mail says that the 21-year-old Spanish hitman could, after all, be available on loan for the rest of the season.

This time on Tuesday, Morata was a key part of Carlo Ancelotti's attack, but now the Mail claims the Madrid manager is "disappointed" in the 21-year-old and "is willing to let him out on loan". It may sound like good news for Arsenal, who are said to be keen on the forward, but the Mail reports that Liverpool and Spurs are also keen on the player.

To make matters worse, Real apparently want a fee of around £1.5m and assurances that Morata will get games. And who knows what they will be thinking tomorrow.

Meanwhile Talksport reports that the Gunners are taking more than a passing interest in Glen Johnson's contract difficulties at Liverpool. Apparently the 29-year-old England defender is having trouble agreeing a new deal primarily because the Reds want him to take a pay cut in any extension.

Consequently Wenger has been alerted to the possibility that there could be a parting of the ways with Liverpool eager to make some money on the veteran rather than see him leave on a free transfer within the next year. Talksport says that Wenger is a "long-term admirer" of Johnson and believes he could be the man to replace Bacary Sagna, who is expected to return to France on a lucrative deal with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season.

In other news claims that Nemanja Vidic is unlikely to extend his Manchester United contract at the end of the season. Perhaps the 32-year-old doesn't much fancy seeing out his career in the Europa League – that is if United manage to qualify for the second string tournament. But whatever the reason the defender's agent believes a new challenge is in order.

Talking to Serbian broadcaster Radio Cr, Silvano Martina said: "At the moment, I would rule out an extension with Manchester United... Vidic is a very good player and will have no trouble finding a new club. For the time being we are remaining calm."

United fans, though, may not be remaining quite as calm after reading reports on website Caughtoffside that Vidic is now being eyed up by Barcelona.

Finally, the Manchester Evening News says that United boss David Moyes has ruled out loaning Wilfried Zaha back to Crystal Palace on loan any time soon. The 21-year-old has made just three appearances for United this season since arriving from Palace 12 months ago, and Eagles boss' Tony Pulis has made no secret of his desire to have Zaha back as they battle to stay in the Premier League.

But that ain't going to happen, Pulis has admitted to the MEN, explaining: "We've spoken to David Moyes about Zaha and I don't think he's too keen on him coming back to London. It's not a problem for us, he's a Manchester United player."

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.