Paper Round: Diego Costa to China for £650,000 per week mega deal?
Diego Costa once more becomes the subject of a Chinese Super League rumour as Chelsea threaten to drop their players' bonus. It's Thursday's Paper Round.
Costa's head turned by fresh bid from China?
The Mirror reports (again) on Thursday that Chelsea striker Diego Costa may have been the recipient of a generous offer from an unnamed Chinese Super League club.
Costa looked set to leave earlier in the year, according to reports, and the new offer rumoured to be worth a whopping £650million per year could see Chelsea's fears at losing their star striker finally realised.
Perhaps Costa would have even more reason to jump ship if The Sun's report that Chelsea's league-challenging stars are set to miss out on a £4m bonus are true...
The newspaper reports that Chelsea's players would lose a sizeable bonus if they miss out on the league title to Tottenham, not to mention another £1m if they are beaten by their North London rivals in the FA Cup semi-final at the weekend.
Paper Round's view: Haven't we been here before?
If the basis for this story is that Costa hasn't scored in six games, we're going to say we're not entirely sure it's sound.
Costa has been an important, albeit controversial, figure at Stamford Bridge in recent years and at 28 he has a good few seasons of playing at the top level left in him.
We don't want to be rude about the CSL, but while there's a lot of money in the league, a European footballer announcing their departure to the East does feel a bit like when Frodo boards the boat at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We're not sure Chelsea should worry too much about a bid from this direction just yet.
Wenger missed a trick
Arsene Wenger gets another kicking after it was reported the under-pressure Arsenal boss, increasingly criticised for a lack of signings in recent seasons, failed to bag a bargain.
According to The Sun, French football expert Gilles Favard has revealed the Frenchman had the opportunity to sign Chelsea midfielder – widely regarded as one of the best based on recent turns – N'Golo Kante who instead went to Leicester City for a snip at £5.6m two years ago.
Thomas Lemar shone in Monaco's Champions League quarter-final match against DortmundGetty Images
Paper Round's view: Another day, another reason to have a pop at Arsene Wenger. There may be many good reasons to do so at the minute, but failing to spot the potential only pre-league glory Leicester City had at that point seen seems a little harsh.
As for Lemar, this feels suspiciously familiar to us after the last three weeks of the Kylian Mbappe tabloid-transfer frenzy – had any Premier League devotees even heard of Lemar four weeks ago?
...But can Van Dijk make it right?
The Mirror reports on Thursday that Arsenal will seek to jump to the front of the queue currently lining the block outside St Mary's waving contracts under the nose of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
With Arsenal much rumoured to be planning a transfer window bonanza, if we can believe Arsene Wenger is ready to dust off the club's chequebook, apparently they have thrown their hat into the ring with the possibility of a £50m deal.
According to the newspaper, with Wenger looking to switch to a back-three line-up from his favoured back-four, the Frenchman is looking for a strong defender to bring in.
Paper Round's view: While Arsenal would clearly make a good home for any number of players as an established big club with the funds available to no doubt make a decent offer, it's not exactly a destination players are truly aspiring to be at right now.
Van Dijk has been linked with many teams and certainly they all seem distinctly possible. Liverpool have sourced many a player from Southampton, while Van Dijk has played under Everton boss Ronald Koeman before – and the almost inevitable sale of Romelu Lukaku this summer would give them some cash to play with – but it wouldn't be much of a step up unless Koeman can attract other players of Van Dijk's skill. As for Man City, they are of course in need of some shoring up in the defensive region.
Bournemouth dump Wilshere as leg-break confirmed
The Mirror reports that Jack Wilshere's future became all the more uncertain after it was confirmed on Wednesday that the Arsenal player, currently on loan to Bournemouth, had broken his leg.
Wilshere was forced to leave the pitch shortly after half-time on Saturday during his team's game against Tottenham. It was later revealed he had cracked his fibula and would be unable to play for the rest of the season.
Adding insult to injury, it was also revealed that Wilshere would not be taken on full-time by the Cherries as manager Eddie Howe said in a statement: "It's a big blow to lose Jack. We have loved working with him."
Paper Round's view: It's hard not to feel sorry for Wilshere, having been packed off to Bournemouth from the Emirates last summer.
Plagued by injuries throughout his career, the rationale for sending him to the south coast in the first place was to help him get game time in a comparatively relaxed environment while he recovered from a broken fibula in 2015-16 pre-season.
With another spell on the sidelines stretching ahead of him, a return to the Emirates now could be problematic for the 25-year-old.