Gossip column: Benteke, Gerrard, Sterling, Robben

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TRANSFER GOSSIP

Manchester City are plotting a swoop for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, 24, to resolve their striker crisis. (Sun on Sunday - subscription required)

Alternatively, City will this week step up their chase for Wilfried Bony, 26, with the reigning champions willing to pay £25m for the Swansea striker.(Sunday Mirror)

Manchester City are also interested in signing Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, 21, with the Toffees ready to sell for £45m to fund an overhaul of Roberto Martinez's squad. (Mail on Sunday)

Sunday Telegraph
Sunday Telegraph's back page

Steven Gerrard's next destination is set to be Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy when the midfielder, 34, leaves Liverpool at the end of the season. (Sunday Mirror)

Former England skipper Gerrard is on the verge of agreeing a £3.9m deal to join the MLS franchise on an 18-month contract.(Mail on Sunday)

And Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has warned the club's owners that only 'established international stars' can replace the Anfield talisman.(Observer)

Despite Gerrard's summer departure, Liverpool are confident that forward Raheem Sterling, 20, will sign a new five-year contract by the end of the month.(Sunday Telegraph)

Manchester United are to make bids for Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, 26, and Schalke's Benedikt Howedes, 26, as they aim to strengthen in defence. (Sunday Express)

Striker Falcao could be heading out of Old Trafford, with Juventus hoping to snap up the 28-year-old Colombian when his season-long loan at Manchester United expires.(Sunday Mirror)

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich will attempt to persuade Arjen Robben, 30, to turn down a move to Manchester United by offering the Dutch winger a new deal in excess of the £180,000-a-week contract he signed last year.(Daily Star Sunday)

Chelsea are closing in on the £4m signing of Rijeka's Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric, 23.(Sunday Times - subscription required)

Andrej Kramaric holds off Claudio Marchisio
Chelsea target Andrej Kramaric has scored two goals in four appearances for Croatia

Manchester City are eying a deal for Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet, 20, but manager Manuel Pellegrini fears Financial Fair Play rules could scupper the move.(Mail on Sunday)

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, 28, is line for a return to Newcastle, with Paris St-Germain keen on a player-plus-cash deal for Magpies midfielder Moussa Sissoko, 25.(Sunday People)

Meanwhile, another PSG midfielder, 19-year-old Adrien Rabiot, is close to joining Tottenham on a six-month loan deal.(Gazzetta dello Sport - in Italian)

Steven Fletcher's future at Sunderland is in doubt - and Hull boss Steve Bruce is waiting to swoop for the 27-year-old striker.(Sun on Sunday- subscription required)

Midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, 27, is set to leave Newcastle United and return to France after the Magpies agreed a deal with Nice.(Sunday Express)

New boss Tony Pulis will be given £30m to spend in January by the West Brom board and has targeted Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, 27, and Stoke striker Peter Crouch, 33.(Daily Star Sunday)

OTHER GOSSIP

Former Arsenal defender Remi Garde and ex-Netherlands boss Dick Advocaat are two of the names on a five-man shortlist as Newcastle go continental in their search for a new head coach. (Sunday People)

Stuart Pearce is on the brink of being dismissed as Nottingham Forest manager after his side suffered a shock FA Cup defeat by Rochdale. (Sunday Telegraph)

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger fears the hectic Christmas schedule, and the number of injuries at the club, could end his chances of defending the FA Cup - the only trophy he has won in the past nine years. (Sun on Sunday - subscription required)

A new clip has emerged of Chelsea captain John Terry showing his frustration during Chelsea's 5-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day after he pretended to throw a ball at a Spurs fan. (Metro)

BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Lukas Podolski and Roberto Mancini
Lukas Podolski has scored 19 goals in 60 Arsenal games since joining the north London club in 2012

Lukas Podolski tweeted "New Year, new beginnings" and posted a picture of himself alongside Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini ahead of his move to Serie A. He also wrote a lengthy message to Arsenal fans on Instagram which began 'I can't express in words my gratitude towards you for all you have done for me in my years in London!'"

Everton seem to have got a new celebrity fan in global pop star Justin Bieber. The 20-year-old tweeted pictures on Saturday of himself playing football in the Toffees' white and purple third kit.

Birmingham City defender Paul Robinson paid tribute to Blyth Spartans after the Blues sneaked through a dramatic FA Cup third round tie, tweeting: "In the hat for the next round is the most important thing, but credit goes to Blyth Spartans for making FA Cup so special."

AND FINALLY...

Manchester City have had bedrooms at their training complex fitted with new calming wallpaper to help their players get to sleep more easily the night before a game. (Mail on Sunday)

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