Oxlade-Chamberlain could be headed to West Ham; Chelsea eye Ben Arfa
The summer window will be opening before you know it, and rumours around the world are picking up steam. As always, Transfer Talk has its finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest gossip. See the latest deals here.
TOP STORY: West Ham to be pastures new for Ox?
It's not the first time the departure of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal this summer has been suggested as a transfer window likelihood, but now it seems we could be seeing the emergence of an early front-runner among the clubs he might end up at.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been linked with, among other destinations, Southampton -- the place where he began his career -- but now the Mirror reports that he could end up staying in London after all.
It says West Ham, still chasing a place in Europe after an outstanding season under Slaven Bilic, have been "offered" the chance to sign the 22-year-old forward, with Gunners manager Arsene Wenger "poised to stage a clearout this summer following the club's title failure" and "several players set to be moved on."
With the Hammers flying high and ready to set their sights higher still as they prepare to move to the Olympic Stadium for the start of next season, England man Oxlade-Chamberlain, who moved to Arsenal from the south coast back in 2011, could be primed to swap north London for east London.
He has fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal in recent times, with club officials reported to believe a move would make sense because he has not made the progress expected when he arrived at the Emirates.
It could, and in all likelihood will, be a busy summer for the Gunners, with Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka appearing increasingly certain to be on his way in while outgoings could include Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky, the Mirror says.
But who else comes in is set to depend on where they finish -- and whether that finishing place secures them automatic qualification for the Champions League rather than a playoff spot, it adds.
Wenger has warned that Arsenal "are not guaranteed top four and have to fight for that" and added that there are "difficult games" to come in the closing stages of the Champions League race.
Hat trick for Chelsea?
Now here's an interesting one. Remember Hatem Ben Arfa, once of Newcastle and, briefly, of Hull? He is a man revitalised at Nice these days -- and so much so that it seems almost everyone wants him.
Ben Arfa has already been linked with a move to either runaway Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain or Liverpool -- and now those two clubs have been joined in the chase by Chelsea, the Sun reports.
It tells us that attacking midfielder Ben Arfa "has been a revelation at Nice this season, scoring 16 goals in 30 appearances to help his side to fourth in the Ligue 1 table."
He joined Hull on loan last season after falling out of the picture at Newcastle, and later had his contract with the Magpies terminated before returning to his native France -- since when things have been getting better all the time.
Meanwhile, Metro says Valencia are in discussions about signing Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.
The Nigeria international, who moved to Stamford Bridge back in 2006, could make the move to La Liga for around £4 million.
Okore story deepens Villa gloom
Aston Villa have really had a go at rewriting the rules on how to have a miserable season in the Premier League, haven't they?
Disjointed, distracted and now down, the Midlands club -- one of English football's historic powerhouses -- have suffered no end of setbacks since they kicked off back in the August sunshine with a win (yes, a win) at Bournemouth.
And here's another setback to add to the list -- defender Jores Okore refused to play in the home defeat to Bournemouth earlier this month after having been named as a substitute.
Caretaker manager Eric Black has now ordered the 23-year-old to train with the club's under-21s, and it seems inevitable that he will form part of a small army of players on their way out in what will be a key summer for vexed Villa.
- Atletico Madrid, so strongly linked with bringing Diego Costa back from Chelsea when the window opens, also want to sign Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambu, according to AS.
The Spanish media outlet says Bakambu, who has 22 goals this season, is a major target for Atleti as they look to strengthen their striking options following the departure of Jackson Martinez earlier in the year. But they won't be without competition -- Bakambu is also interesting clubs in both Serie A and the Premier League.
- A little bit of hard-to-believe managerial stuff now. So, all he has done this season is steer Watford to Premier League safety and the FA Cup semifinals -- but that might, somehow, not be enough to save Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores from the axe, according to the Mirror.
It says the Hornets "will make a move for Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa" after Watford owner Gino Pozzo's "end-of-season review, which is likely to end with the sacking of Flores." Bielsa is "believed to be the favourite" to succeed him at Vicarage Road.
- Chelsea, says the Daily Mail, are angsty about the future of teenage striker Dominic Solanke amid what it says is "an impasse over a new deal."
The 18-year-old, who has a year left on the contract he signed in 2014, has reportedly turned down offers of a new one -- and the Mail says the Londoners "have reacted by preparing a move for Fulham's 19-year-old striker Moussa Dembele, who will be out of contract in June."