The Karim Benzema Lies: Arsenal, Manchester United & Real Madrid are all in the hunt despite contradictions on whether Lyon will sell

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We don’t have any agreement with Dzeko. He is a Wolfsburg player. Dzeko has expressed his liking for a move here but at this moment there are no negotiations yet. We wrote to Wolfsburg and they responded that he is not for sale. If Wolfsburg change their minds we have agreed they will call Milan. If they do I am ready to immediately leave and go there. Adebayor and [Sevilla striker] Luis Fabiano are the alternatives. For Adebayor there has been a telephone call, during which [Arsene] Wenger was friendly. There have been no offers for Pirlo and Thursday night with Ancelotti was just a dinner between old friends, seeing as Carletto was in Milan for his daughter’s graduation. Wednesday night I was at dinner with Gattuso who told us that he was ready to reduce his salary. He still has two years left on his contract, so it will move to three years, reducing the salary. Gattuso is an example, a true man, extraordinary.” – AC Milan’s vice-president, Adriano Galliani.

Runner-up: “We have a fantastic team to play against the big teams and we are competitive. But maybe against those teams lower down we are not good enough. We have to improve that and I think we can. I think we can definitely be stronger at home. We have some very good players but maybe we need other players. I hope Liverpool will bring people like Silva, Mata or Villa. These are small players with quality like United had with Carlos Tevez and also with Paul Scholes. They are clever players and maybe they can make the difference. Yossi Benayoun plays like these kind of players and I hope we can bring more like that so then we have different options to play against all the sides.”- Fernando Torres.

Today’s overview: The battle for Lyon striker Karim Benzema is heating up this Sunday, and the misinformation is beginning to get out of control.

Arsenal have made their move for the Frenchman according to “Wenger is ready to go head to head with Sir Alex Ferguson for the signature of Karim Benzema in the knowledge that the 21-year-old France striker would rather join Arsenal this summer than Manchester United.” Rob Shepherd adds fuel to the story claiming “the Gunners board will be prepared to fund a £30million fee for Lyon’s Benzema, 21, if Arsene Wenger opts to cash in on Emmanuel Adebayor.” However Mark Ogden widens the battlefield to three teams adding “snaring Benzema will prove more problematic now that Real are in the running to sign the Frenchman after giving up on Valencia’s David Villa.”

Over in the Mail on Sunday, Rob Draper and Joe Bernstein knock their heads together to claim the inside story on United’s summer targets. “[Ferguson] will intensify negotiations for £45million Atletico Madrid playmaker Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero and then complete the £14m signing of Wigan’s Luis Antonio Valencia… United have been told that the 21-year-old [Benzema] will remain in France for one more season.” But Simon Mullock offers yet another contradictory insight into Fergie’s transfer choices barking “Benzema is Ferguson’s No.1 target and Lyon have started to send encouraging messages that the French international can be bought at the right price.”

Troubled takeovers of Premier League clubs is also a theme this Sunday.

The black clouds continue to hover nervously around Fratton Park as Jamie Jackson observes the latest goings-on in the mooted takeover of Portsmouth. “Portsmouth’s straitened finances and uncertainty over Sulamain al-Fahim’s planned takeover have left last year’s Cup winners sorely short of personnel, money and direction.”

Hading north, Newcastle fans will have little faith in Bill Mills article in the Sunday Mirror that shouts “Mike Ashley expects to receive two bids for Newcastle United this week. If a deal can be clinched, the takeover could be completed within the next fortnight, with caretaker-boss Alan Shearer discovering whether he has a long term future at St James’.” On the playing side of things, the NOTW report how “Obafemi Martins is being lined up for a £6million switch to Stoke from Newcastle.”

Moving further afield, the finals of this summer’s football competitions are put into focus.

Ahead of the Confederations Cup final Amy Lawrence wonders whether Maicon or Dani Alves should start at right-back for Brazil. “Does he go for Maicon, who dominates his flank for Inter in the more defensive world of Serie A? Or the more cavalier Alves, who tears up and down his wing in La Liga as if he can’t get to the other end fast enough?” Ian Hawkey picks up the same debate of how does Dunga chooses between the two best right-backs in world football. “Can they co-exist? Word is that a plan with Alves at left-back, which would not suit his stronger foot, and Maicon at right-back is being plotted for the World Cup.”

Excitement is also building to the Under-21 European Championships final between England and Germany, with Walcott will presumably be deployed as a lone frontrunner, abetted by Milner, Mark Noble and Lee Cattermole, with the purpose of exposing Germany with pace, in a 4-2-3-1 formation… Walcott will need to rediscover that finishing prowess at a time when his country has reminded itself how it feels to win semi-finals.”

Piers Morgan returns to form this Sunday as the toffee-nose columnist supports Cesc Fabrages’ claim that Arsenal are impotent. “Impotence is rife at Arsenal these days. Most of the players seem to suffer from it, as do the manager, the board and the fans. We have become, collectively, a physically and emotionally dysfunctional group.”

Striking up the same old tune, Jeremy Wilson claims Chelsea remain focused on signing Ribery and Pirlo. “Chelsea are preparing a second bid for Franck Ribery and remain optimistic that a potential club record transfer is still possible… Chelsea also maintain an interest in Andrea Pirlo, with reports in Italy yesterday suggesting that a deal could hinge on the sale of Michael Essien.” It is a similar situation in the NOTW where Rob Beasley cries “Chelsea will make a fresh £50m offer for AC Milan’s Brazilian striker Pato, 19, after their £45m bid was rejected… [Ancelotti wish list] includes Pato’s AC Milan colleague Andrea Pirlo, Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery, Liverpool duo Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso and Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas… But newly-married England ace Joe Cole and Portugal defender Jose Bosingwa could be on their way out of Stamford Bridge.”

The Sunday Express also talk up the Chelsea-Ribery transfer claiming the Blues “are set to test Bayern Munich’s resolve with a £50million bid.” Only for The Star’s Harry Pratt to throw a spanner in the works bleating “Arsenal have entered the race to land French ace Franck Ribery – for a club record £40million.”

Manchester City, as is standard on a Sunday, are linked with a variety of players. Steve Millar kicks off the lies scribbling “[Mark] Hughes is set to hijack Kyle Naughton’s £7m move from Sheffield United to Aston Villa. Hughes has put the Blades defender at the top of his wanted list.” Over in The People, Steve Bates prints “Arjen Robben was being lined up last night to continue the conveyor belt of top stars rolling into Manchester City – with Real Madrid looking to strike a deal for the Dutch winger.”

However it is left to the News of the World’s Aiden McGee to splash with the big news that the Citizens have “completed a £25million swoop for Barcelona strike ace Samuel Eto’o. And they will take their summer spending past the £90m mark by this week confirming they have also landed £30m hitman Carlos Tevez from Manchester United. Cameroon star Eto’o, 28, is expected to travel to Manchester in the next few days to finalise the deal. Argentine Tevez will sign a four-year deal worth around £140,000 a week on Wednesday.”

Following the Eto’o news, Barcelona are also referenced by other hacks as wanting to offload some of their unwanted talent back in the Premier League this summer.

Hammers fans wont be complaining as Colin Mafham barfed “Eidur Gudjohnsen has sent a ‘come and get me’ plea to his old pal Gianfranco Zola.” And it is a similar story for Villa fans as Tony Stenson claims “Villa are on the trail of former Arsenal midfield player Alexander Hleb.” The Midlanders are also connected with a £5million bid for Tim Borowski according to Rob Beasley, while surely a complete non-starter is talked up by Tom Hopkinson publicising “Robbie Keane has emerged as a shock target for Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill.”

The Toffees are rumoured to be on the look-out for forwards. A faceless article in the Sunday Mirror reports how “Everton are set to offer former Arsenal playmaker Jose Antonio Reyes a return to the Premier League.” However Alan Nixon made the bigger splash in the People announcing “Michael Owen is ready to sign for Everton for LESS money than he could pick up from ambitious Hull City. And Goodison boss David Moyes is set to make it a dream double by bringing back Brazilian star Jo from Manchester City on a season-long loan deal.”

In the best of the rest, Scott Piecha invents the lie that Middlesbrough’s “Adam Johnson has revealed his shock at being linked with Real Madrid,” Piecha continues to spew out fanficul tales adding “Andriy Shevchenko is set to be offered a megabucks deal to end his Chelsea career – by moving to Qatar!” while Steve Sammers claims “Villarreal are the first club to show an interest in Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.”