Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is edging closer to a £20mn move to Everton after he travelled to Merseyside for a medical as Toffees coach Sam Allardyce bids to boost his attacking options. The 28-year-old was due to attend the club’s Finch Farm training ground yesterday to undergo his physical examination and finalise terms.
“His pace is one of his key strengths which we lack in this squad,” said Allardyce last week. “We are short of goals so to add power in our goalscoring ability would be very important for me.”
Walcott, who has scored 108 goals in 397 matches for Arsenal, is surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium having made just 16 appearances this season. He has not made a Premier League start since April.
Providing there are no last-minute hitches, within the next 24 hours Walcott, Arsenal’s longest-serving player, should become Allardyce’s second signing of the transfer window. Striker Cenk Tosun, a £28mn arrival from Besiktas, made his debut at the weekend, playing an hour of the 4-0 defeat at Tottenham for mid-table Everton, whose progress under Allardyce has stalled after a promising start following his arrival in late November.
“Theo’s not as risky (as Tosun) because he’s proven,” added Allardyce. “He’s scored 100 goals for Arsenal from wide positions as well as many assists.”
Chinese Super League stint a holiday: Tevez
Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez described his time at Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua as a “holiday”, after returning to boyhood club Boca Juniors for a third spell last week. The 33-year-old was widely criticised in China as he struggled for form after Shenhua reportedly made him the world’s highest-paid player on a weekly salary of 730,000 euros ($899,000).
“It’s fine because I was on holiday for seven months,” he joked in an interview with Argentine television channel. Tevez scored only four goals in the Chinese league and missed his team’s successful Cup final win, while coach Wu Jingui called him “overweight” when he took over in September.
But the former Manchester United and Manchester City forward has returned to Boca, where he played between 2001-2004 and 2015-2016. “When I landed in China, I wanted to return to Boca,” Tevez added.
“It would have been easy to stay (in China), quiet, in a privileged place, with the number 10 and idol of a club. What would they tell me if I played badly or if I didn’t play because I was injured? They’d just say ‘Tevez is not good’ and nothing more.”
Tevez will be hoping to help Boca end their 11-year wait for a seventh Copa Libertadores title when the South American tournament kicks off next week.
Diego Carlos bemused by referee kick
Nantes defender Diego Carlos admitted yesterday that he was left flummoxed after being kicked and then sent off by referee Tony Chapron in Sunday’s game against Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian accidentally bumped into the backtracking official as PSG counter-attacked in injury-time of the Ligue 1 leaders’ 1-0 win, with footage of Chapron tumbling to the floor before lashing out at Diego Carlos going viral on social media.
“I did not understand at the time what had happened,” the 24-year-old told Nantes’ website. “He fell to the ground and then I looked at him when he gave me a kick on the leg and I said ‘what have you done?’ and then he gave me a yellow and a red.”
The red card has since been rescinded, making him available for today’s match at Toulouse. “I am very happy that I will be able to play at Toulouse,” he added.
Greek minister resigns after insulting fans of two clubs
Greek Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras has accepted the resignation of deputy education minister Kostas Zouraris whose weekend insults aimed at fans of Olympiakos and Aris Thessaloniki sparked an uproar.
Zouraris, a member of parliament for the nationalist ANEL party, the junior partner in the governing coalition, used graphic and obscene language on a Thessaloniki radio station when talking about fans of Olympiakos and Aris. It was not the first time Zouraris, 77, had insulted fans of Olympiakos, the country’s most successful club.
After the angry reactions, led by MPs in his own party, Zouraris sent a letter of resignation on Sunday. The government announced on Tuesday that Tsipras had accepted the resignation. Zouraris has given no indication that he will quit parliament. ANEL has nine MPs which, added to the 145 members of Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party, creates a narrow parliamentary majority for their unlikely coalition.
Mahrez worth over £100mn to Leicester: Puel
Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez could be worth even more than £100mn if he leaves Leicester City at the end of the season, Foxes manager Claude Puel said on Monday. “It is speculation and we cannot respond to all the speculation with information,” Puel said. “Perhaps, in the summer he will cost even more than £100mn. It is always the same thing about Riyad. It is just rumours, noise about him and other players,” added Puel of Mahrez, one of the stars of Leicester’s shock Premier League title triumph in 2015/16. “We can see Riyad smiling and enjoying his football and enjoying playing with his teammates and it is the same in training. After the training session, he continues to play head tennis, and I want him to get more rest. All the rumours and speculation about Riyad, do the reporters want him to leave the club?”
Mahrez, however, asked to leave the Midlands club in pre-season but only Roma made a firm offer, with the Italian side’s £32mn proposal rejected by Leicester. A sign of the high prices clubs are prepared to play for players came when Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Premier League rivals Southampton for £75mn earlier this month, a world record fee for a defender.
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