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Football transfer rumors: Karim Benzema to join Arsenal?

So what’s a super-agent to do when the transfer window has closed and opportunities to put oneself up front and centre are diminished? If you’re Mino Raiola you lob out the sort of man-in-the-pub opinions that the Mill routinely makes to ward off the gobby bloke by the fruit machine and trust that they are then invested with huge significance by others.

And Paolo Dybala, a player he does not even represent, is the subject of Europe’s premier wheeler-dealer’s latest musings. The in-form Juventus frontman would fit right in at Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Real Madrid, gushed Raiola, hedging several bets. “I think Dybala will eventually leave Juve,” the agent told Rai Sport. “He has to go to a team where he gets into a project that is already suitable for him.” Barcelona would not be such a project, he reckoned, though for his part Dybala has refused to rule out a move to the Camp Nou.

Liverpool, their defensive credentials shredded at the weekend, are naturally being linked with attacking players. Having already raided caffeinated fizzy drink adjunct RB Leipzig for one player, Naby Keïta, they’re thirsty for another, Timo Werner. But the 21-year-old German striker is also on the ever-active radar of Real Madrid.

The European champions’ predatory ways do, however, offer an apparent opening for Arsenal to swoop for Karim Benzema. Real’s interest in Dybala and Antoine Griezmann could mean they would be prepared to let the French striker move to the Emirates, with the Daily Star reporting that Benzema “likes Arsenal” and could be north London-bound next summer.

Also doing the refusing-to-rule-out thing in order to keep the Mill churning is Thomas Müller, in the course of an interview with Kicker in which the Bayern Munich and Germany talisman “revealed” that he pondered a move to Manchester United two years ago, when Louis van Gaal tabled a bid. He added that “of course it’s possible” that he could leave the Bundesliga champions. “When my time is up, it’s up,” he hinted. “[Bastian] Schweinsteiger was here for over 10 years and now he’s been gone for over two years and another player is here instead. It will be exactly the same with me. If I drop dead tomorrow, there will be a funeral, yet on Friday, 11 players will still be out on the pitch. That’s life.”

Diego Costa has reportedly sent out smoke signals from his cave that he is going to rejoin Atlético Madrid this very week in a £54m deal while Leicester are close to putting the finishing flourishes on a new £50,000-a-week contract for Demarai Gray, having turned down two offers from Bournemouth for the England Under-21 winger in the transfer window.

In the Championship, the veteran defender Clint Hill has been linked with a return to QPR having been deemed surplus to requirements at Rangers by Pedro Caixinha at the end of last season. The 38-year-old could be offered a short-term deal to help alleviate Ian Holloway’s defensive crisis, with James Perch and Grant Hall sidelined.

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