Thursday's gossip column


Manchester United are ready to make a £28m bid for Aston Villa midfielder James Milner. Villa have already turned down a £20m bid from Manchester City for the 24-year-old who is currently with England at their pre-World Cup training camp in Austria. ( 


Barcelona are preparing to launch a £70m bid for Liverpool's Fernando Torres after signing David Villa, his strike partner in Spain's national side, from Valencia.(Daily Mirror) 
However, the Catalan side's hopes of luring Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal to the Nou Camp could be hit by Yaya Toure's reluctance to move in the opposite direction. The Ivory Coast midfielder is said to be attracting the interest of Manchester City.(Daily Mail) 
Barca have decided they will not pay more than £30m for Fabregas, which could also put the deal at risk.(Daily Star) 
Arsenal are looking for £80m before they allow their talismanic skipper to return to his former club.(Daily Mail) 
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is actually hopeful of persuading midfielder Fabregas to stay for one more season.(Daily Mirror) 
However, should Fabregas leave, Arsenal can forget plans to replace him with Mikel Arteta, according to the Everton midfielder's agent. Manchester United have also been linked with a move for Arteta.(the Sun) 
Manchester United are planning a £15m bid for Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell despite Toffees boss David Moyes saying the 19-year-old is not for sale.(the Sun) 
Manchester City will need to pay Benfica £43m if they want to bring Brazilian defender David Luiz to Eastlands. (the Independent) 
Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool are competing to sign £11m-rated Ajax centre-back Jan Vertonghen.(Daily Mirror) 
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is planning a major spending spree after being told he has "an open chequebook".(the Sun) 
Birmingham City are considering a £2.5m bid for Fulham full-back Paul Konchesky.(Daily Mail) 
The Blues have also joined the race for Burnley striker Steven Fletcher as their hopes of landing Fulham's Bobby Zamora fade.(Daily Mirror) 
West Brom are poised to sign Hull star Stephen Hunt - even though he won't be fit for the start of next season. The Baggies have agreed a £4m fee for the Republic of Ireland winger, rising to £5.5m if Roberto di Matteo's men stay in the Premier League.(Daily Star) 
The Baggies are also set to make a £2m move for Stoke striker James Beattie. (the Sun) 
Sol Campbell has welcomed Celtic's interest and made it a clear a bumper two-year deal could tempt him to reject a one-year offer from Arsenal.(the Sun) 
Veteran defender David Weir is set to hang up his boots if Walter Smith quits as Rangers boss over the summer. (Various) 
Fulham are ready to table a pre-World Cup bid of £1m for Hibernian defender Sol Bamba.(Scottish Daily Express)
Peter Houston's first task as permanent manager of Dundee United will be to fight off bids for Craig Conway and Garry Kenneth from Middlesbrough.(Daily Record) 
Meanwhile, Houston will sign a three-year contract at Tannadice tomorrow. (Various)


Inter Milan have denied they have made an approach for Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez to replace Real Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho.(the Sun) 
Benitez says he wants a further four years at Anfield and also feels there is no evidence that star striker Fernando Torres wants to leave the club.(the Times) 
Manchester United failed in a last-ditch attempt to sign Spain international striker David Villa, who joined Barcelona for £34m.(Mirror) 
The Red Knights consortium's hopes of taking over United from the Glazer family looks set to fail because of internal wranglings.(Guardian) 
Dutch champions FC Twente want Portsmouth manager Avram Grant to replace Steve McClaren, who has left to manage German side Wolfsburg. However, Grant is being linked with the vacant post at West Ham.(Daily Star) 
Grant will be unveiled as the Hammers new manager next month. (the Sun) 
Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba believes he can finish as the World Cup's top scorer.(Daily Star) 
England World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks believes Fabio Capello should use David James as his number one goalkeeper for the World Cup.(the Guardian) 


England midfielder Steven Gerrard says team-mate Joe Cole is just as good as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo - in training.(Daily Mirror) 
If you fancy owning the shirt worn by England's World Cup winning hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, pop down to Harrods where it is set to go on sale on Friday. Hurst no longer owns the number 10 shirt he made history in at the 1966 World Cup final. The price tag? Only £ VAT! 
(Daily Express)