Gossip column: Strootman, Cech, Pellegrini, Boycott, Giggs, Robben

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TRANSFER GOSSIP

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is confident of signing Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman - although the move could be delayed until the summer if the 24-year-old helps Roma reach the Champions League knockout stages by beating Manchester City on Wednesday. (Daily Telegraph)

Guardian
The Guardian sport pull-out's front page

But Van Gaal has dismissed suggestions that he needs to strengthen his defence in January. (Daily Express)

Manchester United are in pole position to sign Benfica's £25m-rated Argentine midfielder Enzo Perez, 28, because Valencia cannot afford him. (Talksport)

Van Gaal is also hoping to bring Bayern Munich and ex-Chelsea winger Arjen Robben, 30, back to the Premier League in January. (Daily Express)

Liverpool are continuing to look at Chelsea's Petr Cech, 32, and Stoke's Asmir Begovic, 27, as a replacement for keeper Simon Mignolet, 26 - but are set to miss out on Cologne's Timo Horn, 21. (Daily Mail)

Monaco's Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho, 28, could be heading for the Premier League, with agent Jorge Mendes ready to sound out Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United over a £30m deal.(Daily Express)

Crystal Palace are weighing up a January move for Norwich and England keeper John Ruddy, 28. (Daily Mirror)

Palace are also involved in a three-way fight to sign £2m-rated Bournemouth defender Steve Cook, 23. (London's Evening Standard)

OTHER GOSSIP

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini says his job would not be in danger if they were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday. (Guardian)

And City striker Edin Dzeko, 28, has promised that his recent thigh problem will not prevent him from leading their bid for the knockout stages in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero. (Daily Star)

Argentine forward Aguero, 26, could be out for as long as eight weeks - rather than the four to six weeks suggested initially by Pellegrini - after straining his medial knee ligament against Everton on Saturday. (Independent)

Daily Telegraph
The front of the Daily Telegraph's sport supplement

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, 31, has warned Liverpool he is at the peak of his powers ahead of Sunday's Premier League match-up at Old Trafford. (Sun - subscription required)

Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan believes Louis van Gaal is partly culpable for the prolonged injury crisis at the club this season. (Manchester Evening News)

Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 21, says he needs to improve his scoring record after managing just two goals all season.(Sky Sports)

Former Chelsea defender David Luiz, 27, says he made a "good choice" in leaving Stamford Bridge for Paris St-Germain in June. (Daily Mirror)

Paul Lambert has been let down by his bench at Aston Villa - as only three goals have been scored by substitutes in his 91-match Premier League reign as manager. (Birmingham Mail)

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho claims Chelsea may as well close the doors on their academy unless youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 18, who is set to make his club debut on Wednesday against Sporting Lisbon, start proving their worth. (Daily Star)

Former Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell, 40, is being lined up to launch his coaching career with Ajax.(Daily Mirror)

Experts have described the sale of Edward Glazer's stock in Manchester United as a shock, but played down the significance in regards to the overall ownership of the club. (Manchester Evening News)

BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's cousin Anthony - who plays for Championship side Huddersfield - has offered his solution to improve fortunes at Anfield: "Liverpool need to buy a dynamic midfielder and a world-class striker ASAP!"

Ronald Koeman and Noel Edmonds
Great woolly jumpers of our time, as modelled by Koeman (left) and Edmonds

Times journalist Rory Smith offered his verdict on Liverpool's failure to repeat their Champions League heroics of a decade ago against Basel: "It's almost like football isn't a scripted drama, where what happened 10 years ago will somehow repeat itself just when you want it to."

Former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott - now a BBC Test Match Special summariser - has laid into Manchester United's defence on Twitter: "50 years I've supported them and I've never seen a defence so bad."

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman geared up for the club's Christmas party - by posting a photo of himself wearing a Christmas jumper worthy of former BBC host Noel Edmonds.

Many Premier League footballers have been visiting local hospitals to bring some cheer, among them West Brom keeper Ben Foster, who wrote: "Humbling day at Birmingham children's hospital, if you've got kids, give em a hug, cos we don't know how lucky we are."

AND FINALLY

Mario Balotelli has been made Liverpool's featured player for January in their official 2015 calendar - saving them any embarrassment if he doesn't stay at Anfield for the rest of the year. (Daily Mail)

Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs, 41, showed he has lost none of his skills by doing keepy-ups with a potato. (Manchester Evening News)

Germany's shock 7-1 thrashing over World Cup hosts Brazil was the UK's most tweeted about moment of 2014.(London's Evening Standard)

A group of dedicated Merseyside nurses got a festive shock when Everton boss Roberto Martinez gatecrashed their surprise tour of Goodison Park. (Liverpool Echo)

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