End of the Mata?: The Daily Mirror leads on Jose Mourinho telling Juan Mata the Chelsea door is open if he wants to get out, after the Spaniard reacted angrily to being substituted seven minutes into the second half of the match against Southampton. Jose Mourinho said post-match: “I want to keep him. I want to keep him. I don’t want him to go. That’s my opinion, my wish. But my door is open and the club’s door is open too. When a player wants to speak with us we are there waiting.” The Mirror claims those comments will have a whole host of rival bosses holding talks with their clubs’ chairmen this morning, with the paper identifying Manchester United and Inter Milan as likely suitors.
Paper Round's view: Footballer gets annoyed at being substituted early in second half? It's happened before and will happen again. Indeed, that kind of behaviour is almost expected from ultra-competitive pros, and is more often than not followed by an apology and the usual 'I'm a passionate guy, I just want to play' explanation, which is in turn welcomed by the player's manager who can then expect an improved performance next time out. What's different in this case, though, is Mourinho's reaction. To say in unambiguous terms that Mata can leave if he wants is remarkable, and must surely give hope to rival clubs of snaring the playmaker - possibly even this month. No matter that Mata wasn't the only player taken off and that Mourinho's tactical switch paid off handsomely...
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Arsenal to go for Berbatov: The Gunners are closing in on a "shock £2m swoop for Dimitar Berbatov", according to The Sun. Arsene Wenger apparently wants to bolster his attacking options as he tries to keep his side's momentum in the second half of the season. The 32-year-old Bulgarian's contract expires in the summer, and Arsenal will hope that Fulham can be persuaded to cash in rather than lose him for nothing in July.
Paper Round's view: The move makes perfect sense for Arsenal and Berbatov himself, but it's hard to see why Fulham would let their top goalscorer go when they're in the thick of the relegation dogfight this season. Recouping £2m for shooting yourself in the foot just doesn't make sense.
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Solskjaer to be confirmed as Cardiff manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to be named Cardiff City manager this week, reports the Daily Mail. The Norwegian was spotted in the directors' box, next to Bluebirds boss Vincent Tan, during the defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The paper reports that Solskjaer will be unveiled as Malky Mackay's replacement before the FA Cup tie against Newcastle at the weekend. Cardiff intend to employ the former Manchester United striker on a rolling contract, with the promise of £25 million to spend immediately.
Paper Round's view: Either Tan has changed his ways in the past few days or Solskjaer is ignoring common sense, Sir Alex Ferguson's advice, and the idea of job security by choosing to work under the Singaporean businessman. Or, more likely, it is that £25m carrot being dangled in front of him that has helped make his mind up. Whatever, it's almost certain the former Manchester United striker will become manager of Cardiff City.
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City to fight Besiktas interest in Lescott: Manchester City will battle to keep Joleon Lescott this month in the face of interest from Turkish side Besiktas. The Daily Mirror reports that Lescott's future at the Etihad is unsure given that his £90,000-a-week contract expires in the summer and no talks over a new deal have been held to date. And with Lescott free to talk to other clubs, Besiktas claim they have already contacted the England defender.
Paper Round's view: It's easy to see why City don't want to lose Lescott mid-season, despite his monstrous wages. Heading into 2014, the club are still competing for silverware on four fronts and manager Manuel Pellegrini will need a number of options at the back if he is to sustain that attack. Lescott is a handy go-to-guy in case of injuries to others, as evidenced already this season.
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United close on Muric for peanuts: Manchester United are in talks over a deal for Dinamo Zagreb striker Robert Muric, according to the Daily Mail. The Croatia U17 World Cup star may be available to David Moyes for just £300,000 despite being valued at £6m, thanks to a dispute over whether the 17-year-old actually signed professional terms with Dinamo. The paper reports that Chelsea and Barcelona are also sniffing around.
Paper Round's view: Is there a signature that resembles that of Robert Muric on a piece of paper that is titled 'professional contract' or not? It can't be that difficult to fathom, can it? Well, apparently it's more complicated than that, although the boy must be a bit special considering all the fuss. Is it possible he might just be the 'new Andreas Pereira', who was dubbed the 'new Adnan Januzaj' just weeks ago?
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