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Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Balotelli to Arsenal, Morrison to United

Dec 31, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

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Seeing how Ravel Morrison is all grown up and mature at West Ham United, the midfielder’s previous club, Manchester United, are having serious misgivings.

West Ham bought Morrison from United for £650K and agreed to pay a further £250K with every appearance he makes for the Hammers.

A clause in his convoluted contract, however, allows Morrison to be sold if an offer of £18M is made or if they receive a one-off payment of £10M. United are tempted and apparently, so is Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen.

West Ham won’t be excited by the prospect of losing Morrison but that extra dough could come in handy to mitigate the losses from shelling out £15.5M on Andy Carroll last summer. The Hammers will then turn their interest to shoring up a defense that is in desperate need of a center-back. Everton’s Jonny Heitinga looks to be a good fit, with the Dutchman keen on proving why he should be in the World Cup squad. Lofty goals, Mr. Heitinga.

It wouldn’t be a transfer roundup column without mentioning a target of Manchester City, who are desparate to secure a fifth center-back just in case Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis don’t pan out. The object of their desire is 23-year-old Villarreal center-back Mateo Musacchio, who the Yellow Submarine claim is only available for £45M. It’s a lofty goal for the Spanish side as most value the young Argentine in the range of £8M.

Over at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers has his eye on a few players including Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian international is valued at around £10M, well within Fenway Sports Group’s wallet range, except that Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are now also linked with the center midfielder. Let the bidding war commence.

Speaking of auctions set to occur this January, expect the bidding for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa to start at £35M. And with Arsenal, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund all reportedly interested in the striker’s services, that number could easily surge up to £45M. But don’t worry Goonahs, in the event that Arsenal becomes gun shy Arsene Wenger has a backup plan: 20-year-old Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata.

Finally, we stick with Arsenal for this last one because it’s simply too juicy not to mention. It’s possible that the stars are aligning to pave Mario Balotelli‘s way to the Emirates. It’s a move that makes sense when considering the precarious situation at AC Milan and Arsenal’s need for a striker to spell Olivier Giroud in the second half of the season. Granted, he’s a handful. But he’s also a world-class striker and if Arsene Wenger were willing to try and tame Luis Suarez, who’s to say he wouldn’t be open to doing the same with Balotelli?

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