Gossip column: Messi, Balotelli, Cech, Milner, Townsend, Lambert

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TRANSFER GOSSIP

Chelsea are prepared to pay a £200m contract-release clause to sign Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, 27. (Daily Star)

Daily Star
The back page of Thursday's Daily Star

Liverpool want to buy Manchester City and England midfielder James Milner. The 29-year-old's contract expires at the end of the season. (Times, subscription required)

Manchester United have made an offer for German central defender Mats Hummels, but Borussia Dortmund say the 26-year-old is not for sale. (Daily Express)

Meanwhile, United will accelerate contract talks with goalkeeper David De Gea, 24, after agreeing an 18-month deal with World Cup winner Victor Valdes. (Daily Mail).

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, 32, could leave the club at the end of the season and has been linked with a move across London to Arsenal. (Telegraph)

England winger Andros Townsend, 23, insists his long-term future is at Tottenham despite being consistently linked with a move away from White Hart Lane. (London Evening Standard)

Arsenal have had a £5m bid for Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marcelo Brozovic rejected. Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, AC Milan and Valencia also want to sign the 22-year-old. (Daily Star)

Liverpool and England striker Rickie Lambert, 32, has emerged as an early transfer target for new Crystal Palace manager, Alan Pardew. (Guardian)

Aston Villa have opened talks with Manchester City about signing winger Scott Sinclair, 25. (Sky Sports)

Greek side Olympiakos have made an attempt to sign Liverpool's Italy striker Mario Balotelli, 24, on loan until the end of the season. (Daily Express)

Liverpool midfielder Suso, 21, is set to join AC Milan on a four-year deal, with the move likely to go through either in January or the summer. (Talksport)

Tottenham are ready to offer Emmanuel Adebayor, 30, to MLS clubs so they can refresh their strikeforce. (Times, subscription required)

Martin Odegaard
Martin Odegaard watched Real Madrid's Copa del Rey game against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday

Manchester United look set to miss out on highly-rated Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard, 16, who may move to Real Madrid. (Manchester Evening News)

Ipswich are set to sign Republic of Ireland striker Noel Hunt on Thursday on a free transfer. The 32-year-old, who was released by Leeds on Wednesday, had a loan spell at Portman Road earlier in the season. (East Anglian Daily Times)

Arsenal are set to make a £4m move for 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik, after a £2.4m bid was rejected by his Polish club Legia Warsaw earlier this week. (Sun, subscription required)

Sunderland are one of a number of clubs looking at Celtic's £8m-rated centre-back Virgil van Dijk, 23. (Newcastle Evening Chronicle)

Remi Garde, 48, is keen to join Newcastle United as the club's new head coach - and is hoping to speak to managing director Lee Charnley this week to confirm his interest in the position. (The Northern Echo)

OTHER GOSSIP

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, whose side are top of the Championship, has no interest in succeeding Alan Pardew as manager of Newcastle United. (Talksport)

Ajax boss Frank De Boer is Newcastle's top target to replace Pardew, but the Dutchman will not take over at St James' Park until the summer. (Daily Mirror)

The Times
The back page of Thursday's The Times

Pardew may have left his job because he was told by the club's owner Mike Ashley that he is going to sell them. (Telegraph)

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, 34, reckons fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson, 24, is the perfect choice to become the club's next captain. (Sun, subscription required)

The Premier League will start a week earlier next season to ensure fewer matches are played over the Christmas and New Year periods. (Daily Star)

Nottingham Forest owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi has asked the side's players if they still want manager Stuart Pearce at the club after a run of only two wins in 19 games. (Daily Mail)

Former Everton winger Pat Nevin fears his old club will be in a relegation battle at the end of the season. (Liverpool Echo)

BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Burnley defender Kevin Long suffered a terrible knee injury against Newcastle, which has needed surgery. "Operation went well. Morphine is awesome," tweeted the 24-year-old, who will be out for the season.

Kevin Long
Burnley's Kevin Long will not play again this season

Explaining his loan move from West Ham to QPR, striker Mauro Zarate tweeted "I am very happy, it's an assignment for six months, but it's something I needed, and I want to play."

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique posts pictures on social media of him and his team-mates at a birthday party for Martin Skrtel, who turned 30 on 15 December.

And with Celebrity Big Brother returning to our screens on Wednesday, here is what Hull midfielder David Meyler tweeted on the subject: "There's more of a chance of me signing for Real Madrid than watching Celebrity Big Brother!"

AND FINALLY...

Chelsea missed the chance to sign Eden Hazard for £100,000 when he was 16. The Belgium attacking midfielder, now 24, eventually joined the Blues for £32m in 2012. (Metro)

Brazil defender Dante is still the butt of jokes from his Bayern Munich team-mates over his country's 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany last summer. (Daily Mirror)

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