Premier League – Paper round: Rio man’s £1bn United bid?

Rio Ferdinand‘s agent Pini Zahavi is reportedly set to head a £1 billion bid for Manchester United.

The speculation is splashed across the back page of The People, which says the Israeli ‘super agent’, a mate of United boss Alex Ferguson, has contacts with some of the richest people in the world.

Zahavi has overseen many of the foreign takeovers of English clubs, the most successful of which was Roman Abramovich‘s arrival at Chelsea.

And the least? Portsmouth, of course. Should American owners the Glazer family sell, they and United will demand to know the identities of every one of Zahavi’s backers, who apparently have the cash stashed in Swiss bank accounts, ready and waiting.

Harry Harris’s Daily Express column meanwhile makes the claim that the Glazers are more than happy to stay, and have turned down bids from China and the Middle East.

They would want at least £1.5bn, he says. Whatever the figure, it seems unlikely that the much-trumpeted ‘Red Knights’ led by London financiers would be able to afford it.

A word of warning for whoever comes in: the Daily Mail reports that European football chiefs are seeking bans for clubs who make a loss but continue to trade thanks to billionaire owners.

On the pitch, several rags report that the new Premier League leaders are stepping up their interest in a deal for Joe Cole, out of contract in the summer – and yet to reaffirm his commitment to Chelsea.

In the News of the World we learn that Manchester City are looking to prise sensational Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain away from Real Madrid. He has turned down the latest improved contract offer from the new Liga leaders.

Should City turn to Fernando Torres, they may be frustrated: Liverpool are looking to fend off outside interest, including from European champions Barcelona, with improved image rights for the Spain star.

City are planning to spend £50m on a new training ground as part of a £500m development of the land around Eastlands – and John Terry-hating left-back Wayne Bridge has privately reiterated he will not go to the World Cup, however confident England boss Fabio Capello is of convincing him otherwise. (Sunday Mirror)

Fabio Aurelio is expected to leave Liverpool in the summer after a season spent mostly injured, according to the NOTW, which also has it that contract talks for fellow defender Jamie Carragher will not take place until next year.

Across Stanley Park, Dan Gosling is mulling over an approach from Standard Liege – he is a free agent in the summer and unhappy at his playing time this season. (Daily Star)

Bolton, among several clubs including Birmingham and River Plate, are after Bolivian teenager Gabriel Alvarez; Blackburn want Stuttgart and Germany striker Cacau. (Star)

Fulham could replace Manchester United-bound Chris Smalling with a £3m move for Shakhtar Donetsk centre-half Yaroslav Rakitsky, although he is not a Ukraine regular and may struggle to obtain a work permit.

Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas is so confident of joining Internazionale ahead of next season that he is taking Italian lessons (Mirror), while Spurs are chasing Almeria’s Brazilian keeper Diego Alves, who helped his side to a 2-2 draw with Barcelona on Saturday night. The cost? £10m! (Star)

Arsenal fancy Nice striker Loic Remy while manager Arsene Wenger has said he is interested in Juventus flop Felipe Melo. Roma boss Claudio Ranieri is eyeing Gunners defender William Gallas, out of contract in the summer. (Star)

Chelsea want AZ Alkmaar’s Belgian striker Moussa Dembele, also being tracked by Juve, Milan and Ajax, while the latter’s captain Luis Suarez could be set for a £10m switch to Sunderland. (Star)

And finally: David Ginola, who was involved in Newcastle’s bid to be a host city for the potential 2018 World Cup in England, is now working for the overall bid, such is his eloquence of speech and silkiness of haircut.

Apparently – some would say inexplicably – he moved his family from the south of France to London, so much does he love this country.

Jonathan Symcox / Eurosport