Rooney to sign new deal in next few days: Wayne Rooney is on the brink of pledging his future to Manchester United with a new record-breaking deal to be signed before the end of this week, reports the Daily Mail. The England striker has been in talks with the club over a new £300,000-a-week contract after being convinced United are prepared to spend big to improve David Moyes' squad this summer and he could even put pen to paper in the next few days. Sources at United told the Mail that "things could move quickly once Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford get round the table again with the club's chief executive Ed Woodward".
Paper Round's view: Those fearing the signing of Juan Mata could spell the end of Rooney's time at Old Trafford appear to have been misguided. Quite the opposite in fact: Mata's arrival may yet prove to be a masterstroke if this report is to be believe and Rooney does indeed commit to United. The question is: can we believe the Daily Mail? Well, only time will tell, but what is certain is that Moyes and United have made clear their desire to hang onto the player at all costs - and turn around the club's fortunes with serious transfer dealings - and that may well be enough to tempt Rooney to stay.
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Chelsea make Costa a priority: With the Rooney speculation in mind, Chelsea are preparing to make Diego Costa their main transfer target this year, reports the Daily Telegraph. The paper acknowledges that Rooney is "increasingly likely" to sign a new contract with United and that there is a "growing sense that it will be impossible to prise him from United", leaving Chelsea to focus on Atletico Madrid's Costa. Any deal for the Brazil-born striker would almost certainly have to wait until the summer though, and Thibaut Courtois, currently on loan from Chelsea at Atletico, might have to be part of any deal.
Paper Round's view: Further good news for United, if Chelsea do indeed relinquish their pursuit of Rooney, but Chelsea's failure to land him should not be mourned too long if Costa can be tempted to move to Stamford Bridge. Obviously, the presence of Jose Mourinho at the west London club will be a huge factor in any potential deal, but it's interesting that Courtois too is emerging as a possible lynchpin in proceedings. Chelsea would stand to cash in on the man they see as Petr Cech's long-term replacement - meaning the £32m-rated Costa would come as a heavily-cut price - but even so they would surely be loathe to lose such a talent.
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United set for summer clear-out: Back to United, and Moyes has warned his current under-performing stars that they will soon be replaced by more big names if they don't improve. Most papers have the United manager's quotes from his Monday press conference, which centred on the Scot's dissatisfaction at how things have panned out so far this season and how he is prepared for a massive overhaul in the summer. The departures of Anderson (confirmed), Fabio and Wilfried Zaha (both imminent) have gone some way to proving Moyes' intentions, while the Daily Mail names Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Alexander Buttner, Nani, Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez as others who are in line for the chop. "I am going to get better players in," Moyes said. "The players have to perform. If they want to be here and making sure they have a jersey, they have to show it in the games."
Paper Round's view: If we're being absolutely honest, pretty much the entire United squad can be included in the 'pull-your-socks-up-or-leave' bracket, bar Rooney, Robin van Persie and David De Gea (and possibly Michael Carrick, although at 32, he's hardly one for the future). Moyes appears to be confident he will be backed financially to go and make more big signings, so the players should well be concerned for their futures. If the threats kick them into action for the second half of the season, all well and good, if not, United fans can look forward to a revamped squad next year, which may or may not be preferable - in terms of the future - to the former outcome.
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United turn to Fernando: One of those 'better players' could be Porto's Fernando, reports the Daily Mirror. The paper claims Moyes has turned his attentions to the Brazilian defensive midfielder, with a £7m bid being weighed up. Liverpool are also keen on the 26-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Octopus’ for his leggy style.
Paper Round's view: United have been searching for a decent holding player for what seems like ages, without success. Is Fernando the answer? Maybe. He has a decent enough pedigree with Porto, having won the treble with Andre Villas-Boas in 2010-11 and since become a key member of the side. But if he went to Old Trafford, he would arrive far from the finished article and progress would have to be made if he were to become the man they have been waiting for. Given United's current situation, that kind of time is perhaps not a luxury the club can afford at the moment.
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Osvaldo faces fine if he stays: Southampton's disgraced striker Dani Osvaldo faces the rather bizarre prospect of being fined up to £240,000 if he does not leave St Mary's by Friday's transfer deadline. The Daily Mirror reports that the Saints' record signing has not yet been docked any pay for headbutting and punching team-mate Jose Fonte in training last week as the club keeps all their options open, meaning they could even terminate his contract. He has been suspended, pending an investigation into the incident, the findings of which could lead to a fine of anything between two and six weeks' wages.
Paper Round's view: How punching and headbutting a colleague at work is anything other than a sackable offence is beyond the comprehension of most 'normal' people, but we've long known that footballers exist in a different world and he may get away with just a fine. Good luck to Valencia, Inter Milan and West Ham, if any one of those clubs end up securing his services.
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