Robben is latest United target

Manchester United are closing in on Arjen Robben, but Bayern Munich want to keep their brilliant flying Dutchman and have offered him another contract to stop him from moving in the January transfer window.  

United boss Louis van Gaal is a long-term admirer of the 30-year-old winger, having worked with him at Bayern and more recently at last summer’s World Cup with Holland.  

Despite signing a $250,000-a-week deal last year, Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is prepared to extend his two-year contract to three.  

Robben could have joined United 11 years ago but moved to Chelsea instead before heading to Real Madrid. United are prepared to pay $30 million. United were prepared to pay a world-record fee for Real’s Gareth Bale, but having been turned down by player and club last week, Robben is the primary target to supply their raft of world-class forwards.  

One of them is likely to be Radamel Falcao, who although not fully fit and having played only sporadically during his loan spell from Monaco, United are prepared to pay the $60 million fee to make the move permanent.  

United insist they will not make an official decision on Falcao until April, although he has started their last four games and scored in two of them. If a deal cannot be made, Juventus are keen to sign Falcao.  

Meanwhile, Manchester City are also looking to boost their front line and want to sign Wilfried Bony. They are prepared to pay Swansea $33 million for him. 

The reigning Premier League champs are so determined to bring the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international to the Etihad that they are offering $6 million more than the release clause in his recently signed contract.  

Injury has blighted City’s front line in recent weeks, with Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko all out. Manager Manuel Pellegrini had no option but to play England midfielder James Milner up front. 

City want a third Premier League title in four seasons and want to progress past the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, Pellegrini believes new players are needed.  

Backed by Sheikh Mansour, whose Abu Dhabi United Group took over the club seven years ago, the deal could be done this week because Bony is with the Ivory Coast squad at a training camp in Abu Dhabi preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations later this month.  

Bony has impressed since his $15 million from Vitesse Arnhem 18 months ago. He scored 25 times in his first season, including 16 in the league, and has already hit the net nine times this term.  

City also want to splash out on Everton’s talented youngster Ross Barkley – and may have to pay as much as $80 million for him.  

The 21-year-old England international is one of the most coveted players in the January transfer window, and although Everton would prefer to keep him, they are prepared to cash in so that they can bolster a squad struggling to stay above the relegation zone.  

Although Barkley signed a new $80,0000-a-week contract last summer, City could easily double that if he joins them. City are also focused on Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, 24, to resolve their striker crisis. 

Chelsea are finalizing a deal which will take the prolific Croatia international Andrej Kramaric to their Dutch feeder club Vitesse Arnhem on loan.  

Kramaric has scored 28 goals in 31 appearances for HNK Rijeka this season and is expected to cost Chelsea around $6 million.  

Leicester City have made two offers for the 23-year-old striker, but Kramaric is not keen to join the relegation-threatened club.  

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has a full complement of strikers in Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy – and plenty of backup forwards. If Drogba retires at the end of the season, Kramaric may take the Ivorian’s place. 


Arjen Robben could renew his relationship with Louis van Gaal. – PHOTOS: AP

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