Friday Kickoff: Wenger hints at contract extension; Chelsea linked with Costa; and more

Friday Kickoff: Wenger hints at contract extension; Chelsea linked with Costa; and more

South American Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Wenger hints at contract extension; Chelsea linked with Costa; and more

ArseneWengerArsenal1-WestHam2013 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Arsene Wenger’s contract at Arsenal comes to an end at the close of the season, but the Frenchman hinted that he could remain on the Emirates Stadium sideline into the future.

Nearly six months ago, some Arsenal fans were calling for the veteran manager to be sacked as the club continues a seven-year search for silverware. But following the signing of Mesut Özil on transfer deadline day and the reverse of Arsenal’s domestic fortunes, the club and Wenger himself is ready to extend his current deal.

“There is a point where you have to decide (to stay) and there is a point where you have to make your decision public,” Wenger hinted, to English newspaper The Guardian. “You can take of that sentence the way you want.”

Wenger last extended his contract in August 2010. The 64-year-old first joined Arsenal in 1996 and lead the club to 11 trophies including three English Premier League titles between 1997 and 2004. Since 2005, the Gunners have failed to win any silverware, though they’ve managed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League every year for the last 15 years.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

MOURINHO TARGETS COSTA SIGNING IN SUMMER

Jose Mourinho has already ruled out signing a forward in January but he’s already working on bringing in one of the world’s best forward’s this summer.

According to a report in The Times of London, Chelsea “have opened preliminary discussions” to make Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa their main signing ahead of next season. The report states that while Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are also interested (as well as the previously reported Borussia Dortmund), Chelsea are currently the “firm favorites” to sign the Brazilian-born forward.

The report also adds that a deal for Costa could include goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has spent the last three seasons on loan with Atletico from Chelsea.

Costa, who made headlines last fall for deciding to pledge his international future to his adopted nation Spain, has made Atletico fans quickly forget about losing Radamel Falcao in the summer. The 25-year-old has scored 19 goals in 19 La Liga games and another four goals in the Champions League.

FORLAN REFUTES RUMORS OF BOTAFOGO MOVE

With Clarence Seedorf’s sudden retirement, reports are flying around in Brazil that Botafogo will replace the Dutchman with another player who formerly starred in Europe.

Uruguayan international Diego Forlan’s name has been mentioned in a number of reports as a player that Botofogo is willing to offer, but the 34-year-old forward is happy at his current club SC Internacional and has no plans of leaving, for now.

“What there is are just rumors,” Forlan told Globoesporte at a FIFA World Cup event in his native Uruguay. “I have a contract with Internacional, I just arrived from Brazil. I thank the Internacional president for having released me for this special event. This Friday I’ll be back to work and get on with preseason training.

“So far there is no concrete offer from Botafogo. If something concrete appears, we can talk. But I have another year and a half contract on my contract and I am very happy at Inter. I’m working well in the preseason towards a good year.”

It had been reported that Botafogo were going to offer Forlan a salary of $350,000 (USD) per year, a $50,000 increase over his current salary. The report in Globoesporte says that

Forlan has been the subject of transfer rumors since joining Internacional in 2012 from Inter Milan. The veteran forward was a former target of Toronto FC and even has been linked with team’s in Japan’s J-League.

QUICK KICKS

Real Madrid would like to replace Fabio Coentrao this summer with 21-year-old Sevilla left back Alberto Moreno. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of South Korean international Ji Dong-Wong on a free transfer from Sunderland, though the midfielder is spending the last six months of his contract on loan at FC Augsburg. (REPORT)

After signing Alessandro Matri and Antonio Rosati this January, Fiorentina are closing in on signing Manchester United midfielder Anderson. (REPORT)

Aston Villa have signed Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand on loan until the end of the season. (REPORT)

Rennes is interested in signing Toulouse’s Israeli international Eden Ben Basat. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Wenger signing a new deal at Arsenal? How do you see Costa fitting into Mourinho’s system? Think Forlan would leave SC Internacional this month?

Share your thoughts below.

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