tHe lukA oF loVe; WHO'S IN.. WHO'S OUT PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON JUST 20 DAYS TO GO TO THE START OF THE 2011?12 Gunners Boss Wenger Beats Chelsea to the 'New Drogba'

Sunday Mirror (London, England), July 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

tHe lukA oF loVe; WHO'S IN.. WHO'S OUT PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON JUST 20 DAYS TO GO TO THE START OF THE 2011?12 Gunners Boss Wenger Beats Chelsea to the 'New Drogba'


Byline: STEVE STAMMERS

ArsenAl are set to hijack Chelsea's move for giant Belgian romelu lukaku.

The Anderlecht striker, who is just 18, is valued at around pounds 17.5m and it was thought his move to Chelsea was virtually a done deal.

But Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has also been alerted to the potential of Lukaku, who is already a full Belgium international.

Lukaku has bagged 31 league goals in just 71 first team appearances for Anderlecht and is rated one of the hottest properties in Europe.

His arrival would hasten the departure of the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, who is wanted by Bundesliga clubs Borussia Dortmund and SV Hamburg.

Lukaku is also aware that his chances of playing regular first team football will be improved by a move to the Emirates. At Stamford Bridge, he would be down the pecking order behind the likes of Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

Drogba, who is entering the final year of his contract, is Lukaku's hero and the two have had conversations about his progress.

The teenager's massive physique has prompted comparisons with the Chelsea striker.

But Anderlecht are adamant Lukaku's success is not based on his stunning physique and prodigious power for one so young. They insist he can play the game as well.

Wenger knows he needs to crank up his recruitment drive with the new season just three weeks away.

As well as considering a move for Lukaku, he will also resume efforts to solve some long-term issues.

His priorities are in central defence and midfield.

Wenger's first choice to come into his back four is Phil Jagielka, of Everton.

Arsenal had a pounds 10m bid for the England international rejected but they have not been put off.

An improved offer will be made to the cash-strapped Merseysiders this week. It is believed Arsenal will go as highaspounds 15mforthe28-yearold and Everton may find it difficult to reject.

In midfield, Wenger has not ruled out a move for last season's Footballer of the Year Scott Parker.

Parker's pounds 60,000-a-week wages are a stumbling block and that outlay will severely test the resources of West Ham, following relegation to the Championship.

That's why the Hammers are prepared to consider a loan deal for Parker. They would save his wages for a year and try to go straight back up without him.

Aston Villa have been deterred by Parker's salary - but Wenger is fast running out of options to fill the midfield void.

At 31, Parker is outside the age bracket Wenger prefers to do business from.

But the Gunners boss also acknowledges that Parker is a proven Premier League performer who is now part of the England squad.

ROMELU LUKAKU Age: 18 Born: May 13 1993 in Antwerp, Belgium Position: Striker Height: 6ft 3in (1.91m) Club: Anderlecht Apps: 71 Goals: 31 Belgium caps: 9 Goals: 2 Under-21s: 5 Goals: 2 ARSENAL IN Carl Jenkinson (Charlton, right) pounds 1million, Gervinho (Lille) pounds 10.7m.

OUT Gael Clichy (Man City) pounds 7m, Mark Randall (Chesterfield) free. Released: Tom Cruise, Roarie Deacon.

Wellington (Levante) Season-long loan.

ASTON VILLA IN Shay Given (from Man City, right) Undisc fee.

OUT Ashley Young (Man U) pounds 16m, Brad Friedel (Spurs) free.

Released: Nigel Reo-Coker, John Carew (right), Moustapha Salifou, Robert Pires, Isaiah Osbourne, Harry Forrester, Arsenio Halfhuid, Ellis Deeney, Calum Flanagan, Durrell Berry (Unattached).

BLACKBURN ROVERS IN Myles Anderson (Aberdeen) free.

OUT Phil Jones (Man U, right) pounds 16.5m, Frankie Fielding (Derby) pounds 400,000. Released: Jordan Bowen, Jason Brown, Zurab Khizanishvili, Marceo Rigters, Michael Potts, Benjani Mwarurawi.

BOLTON WANDERERS IN Darren Pratley (Swansea, right) free.

OUT Matt Taylor (West Ham), Ali Al Habsi (Wigan) pounds 4m, Johan Elmander (Galatasaray) free, Danny Ward (Huddersfield) undisclosed. …

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