Transfer Rumors Live: David Villa Could Help Arsenal’s Champions League Chase, Asks to Leave Barcelona

Mario Balotelli, Edin DzekoCheck here throughout the day, as we’ll be following the moving targets that are January’s transfer rumors.

4:40 p.m.: That’s all for Jan. 21. We’ll pick up the roundup later this week, so make sure to check NESN.com for the latest transfer news and rumors.

4:30 p.m.: Arsenal could be looking north and south in an effort to strengthen its midfield in January. The Gunners are eyeing Yoann Gourcuff and Victor Wanyama as potential signings, according to the Mail.

Gourcuff could move to North London on loan from French club Lyon. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admired Gourcuff for years, and Lyon wants his hefty salary off its book. It could work for player and both clubs.

Wanyama has excelled in Scotland for Celtic, earning plaudits for his intelligence and tough tackling. He could cost as much as £25 million ($39.6 million) — a fee Arsenal would probably be unwilling to meet in January.

12:30 p.m.: David Villa, Spain’s record goal scorer, has asked to leave Barcelona this month, according to the Independent.

Arsenal was thought to be preparing a £16 million ($25.4 million) transfer fee for the 31-year-old striker earlier this month. Barcelona was adamant that Villa was staying, but this news could alter the landscape.

Villa broke his leg in late 2011, and although he recovered after eight months, his role has been reduced to that of a squad player.

Barcelona wants to keep him until the end of the season and sell him for as little as £12 million ($19 million) in the summer. Arsenal hopes to get him in January for a fee in that region after he made it clear he’s ready for a new challenge.

The Gunners are in danger of missing out on next season’s UEFA Champions League, and manager Arsene Wenger thinks Villa could power them up the standings.

12:15 p.m.: West Brom will not allow Peter Odemwingie to leave in January. The Baggies turned down QPR’s £2 million ($3.2 million) bid for the 31-year-old striker last week, and they are determined to hold onto him.

West Brom manager Steve Clarke said Odemwingie hasn’t lost focus amid all the transfer speculation, according to the Birmingham Mail.

“I’ve spoken to Peter, I had a good chat with him and all he wanted to talk about was this game,” Clarke said. “He wanted to put on a good performance and I think you saw he was motivated to play.

“There was interest from QPR — Harry [Redknapp] told everybody! It doesn’t unsettle good professionals though. They understand that when it gets to January, it’s silly season. Clubs come in, teams are linked with everyone.”

11:55 a.m.: Martin O’Neil has been one of the busiest Premier League managers in this current transfer window. The Sunderland manager is set to clinch the signing of Mauro Zarate on loan from Lazio, talkSPORT reports.

The loan will include an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season for £6.7 million ($10.6 million). Lazio hopes Zarate will stick at Sunderland, as he has reportedly fallen out of favor with head coach Vladimir Petkovic.

Zarate is no stranger to English soccer. The Argentine striker played 13 games for Birmingham City during a 2008 loan spell.

The 25-year-old has been linked with Arsenal, Stoke City, Fenerbache (Turkey) and Spartak Moscow in recent months.

11:40 a.m.: Manchester United striker Federico Macheda is wanted by German club Stuttgart and Spain’s Elche. The two clubs are interested in a loan deal for the talented Italian.

The 21-year-old is stuck behind United’s world-class quartet of strikers. He could be set for yet another loan spell or leave the club on a permanent transfer.

10:45 a.m.: Gary Hooper has been a big hit ever since he moved to Celtic FC in 2010. Norwich City now wants to repatriate him from Scotland and has put up money to do so.

The Daily Record reports Celtic has already rejected a £5 million ($8 million) offer for the star striker. Norwich intends to come back with a  £7 million ($11.1 million) bid, which could be enough to pry him away from the Scottish champion.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is expecting a tense end to the January transfer window, as he looks to keep hold of his best players.

10:30 a.m.: Remember Flourent Malouda? The veteran Chelsea winger, last seen in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, has been banished to practicing with the Blues’ Academy team all season.

QPR wants to bring the French winger to the other side of West London, but his salary demands could hinder that effort, the Mail reports.

Chelsea didn’t register the 32-year-old to compete in the Premier League, nor has he appeared in Champions League game. His hefty contract expires this summer, so he’ll certainly be gone by the start of next season. It remains to be seen whether he’ll escape Chelsea in time to help (or hinder) another team’s fortunes this season.

10 a.m.: Yann M’Vila is the subject of a new-age transfer tug-of-war. The French midfielder wants to move to the Premier League, and QPR is just one of the English teams pursuing him. The problem is that his club, Rennes, has received the biggest offer from Russian club Rubin Kazan.

Citing a story in French newspaper L’Equipe, ESPN reports Rubin bid £9.6 ($15.3 million). That offer trumps QPR’s bid, and Rennes gladly accepted it.

“A four-year contract worth an initial €4 million after tax with hefty pay increases written in has convinced M’Vila his future lies in Russia,” the report adds.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp hoped to add M’Vila to his club’s relegation fight, but it appears that financial considerations will prompt the 22-year-old to head to Russia to get his career on track.

7:30 a.m.: Newcastle has some good news to ease its recent transfer pain. French defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will have a physical exam on Monday, as he looks to seal a £6.7 million ($10.6 million) transfer from Montpellier.

The 23-year-old is reportedly an Arsenal target, but it looks like he’s headed to Newcastle, the BBC reports.

Newcastle sold Demba Ba to Chelsea as the January transfer window opened. It had to watch in horror as QPR hijacked its move for Loic Remy, who was tipped to replace Ba. Captain Fabricio Coloccini could be headed back to Argentina after telling the club he wants to leave for personal reasons.

Capturing Yanga-Mbiwa will help soften those blows, but it may not save Newcastle from relegation.

7:15 a.m.: The L.A. Galaxy have offered Frank Lampard a contract worth £4 million ($6.4 million) a year, but the Chelsea star is waiting to accept or decline it.

Lampard, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, wants to see what offers come from Premier League or European clubs before making a decision, according to the Express.

“Frank is free to speak with other clubs. He is aware of strong interest from LA Galaxy and has expressed a desire to move to the United States,” the report says. “But he still believes he can do a job for someone in the Premier League and wants to take his time and see if any other offers come up.

“This is a big decision for Frank. It is probably the last move he will ever make in his playing career and he wants to make sure that it is the right one for him and his family.”

It was reported over the weekend that the 34-year-old midfielder had already signed with L.A., but that’s not the case. Monaco, AC Milan and Manchester United have reportedly expressed an interest in signing the England international. Lampard will consider those options before choosing or declining to sign with the Galaxy.

6 a.m. ET: Those “Mario Balotelli to AC Milan” rumors gathered steam over the weekend. Milan is talking, Balotelli is acting, and it looks like he might make that dream move before the January transfer window closes.

Last week, Manchester City reportedly put a £31 million ($49.2 million) price tag on the Italian striker. Milan balked at that figure, saying it wouldn’t talk about a deal until that price dropped.

Well it did, according to Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport. City is now asking for around £23.5 million ($37.3 million). The same report says the defending Premier League champion will allow Milan to spread the payments over six installments to ease the financial burden during this age of austerity.

On Sunday, Football Italia reported that Milan vice president (and transfer supremo) Adriano Galliani said his club will “jump for Balotelli” if the price is right.

“It depends on them,” Galliani said. “I am waiting, they are there and if the price drops then we will jump for Balotelli. Otherwise, we will stay in Milan. They are his legitimate employers, so we wait, observe and see what happens.

“How much does it have to drop? We don’t know. Paying in installments is an option, but you still have to pay.”

The Daily Star adds momentum to this transfer rumor. The British tabloid reports Balotelli has not only purchased an apartment in Brescia, Italy (one hour away from Milan), but he also has started shipping some of his personal items back to Italy. That is not all.

“Now it is understood Balotelli, 22, has given notice on his Cheshire home where he has never settled since his £22 million switch from Inter in 2010,” the report adds.

“Milan are interested in rescuing the fiery star’s career but they will not pay more than £15 million ($23.8 million).”

Now we wouldn’t put it past Balotelli to jump the gun and start moving out of Manchester before its prudent to do so. But there are too many factors to suggest this is a rumor which lacks substance.

The two clubs are roughly £8.5 million ($13.5 million) apart on their respective valuations. It’s possible that they’ll bridge that gap with a combination of performance clauses, sell-on fees, player exchanges or forming a Tottenham-Real Madrid-style partnership. It’s more likely that a game of high-stakes brinkmanship has begun, and each club is waiting for time (and fan) pressure to make the other blink. Either way, it’s looking like Balotelli’s days in English soccer are numbered.

Past transfer rumors: Jan. 16 >> |  Jan. 15 >> | Jan. 14 >> |  Jan. 10 >> | Jan. 9 >>

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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