Backpage Roundup: Arsenal Tracking Shakhtar Donetsk Star, Huntelaar Undecided on Future, Gerrard Talks up Wilshere Quality, Giroud Targets 15 Goals and More

Gunners Linked With January Move For Shakhtar Star

Arsenal are purportedly interested in signing Shakhtar Donetsk star Luiz Adriano and have been scouting him for more than a year, according to a report published by The Daily Mail.

While Manchester City and Chelsea have been tracking the Ukrainian powerhouse’s more well-known duo of Willian and Fernandinho, it is thought that the Gunners have set sights on their compatriot Adriano, who has scored 45 times in 107 outings for his current employers.

The Brazilian forward was offered to coach Arsene Wenger in the summer but he opted to go for Olivier Giroud instead. However, that move could be back on again, provided that the North Londoners manage to get rid of Marouane Chamakh in January. They are likely to face competition from Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, who are also keen to recruit the 25-year-old.

The Daily Mail also claim that Manchester City super-sub Eden Dzeko and Napoli superstar Edinson Cavani are also on Wenger’s shopping list.

Huntelaar Undecided on Future

Rumoured Arsenal FC target Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s agent Arnoldus Oosterveer has dismissed media reports that claimed the Schalke hitman has already agreed to move to a Premier League club.

The prolific Dutchman’s contract with his German employers is set to expire in the summer of 2013, which means that he will be free to negotiate a future transfer with new clubs from January. It had been reported in the press that the 29-year-old has already decided his next club but his representative says that is not the case at all.

Calciomercato.it  have quoted Oooserveer as saying: “There is no agreement with any English club and Klaas has not yet decided anything about his future,. He has not decided if he wants to play in Italy, Spain, England or stay in Germany. He is planning his future in the winter.”

When asked if there is still a chance that Hunelaar could renew his deal with Schalke, the agent replied: “Currently no hypothesis is rejected because in football you never know. So you [will] have to wait to know Huntelaar’s future.”

Gerrard: Wilshere’s Emergence Forced Me to Continue For England

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has revealed that the arrival of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere at international level forced him to keep playing for England despite the disappointment of Euro 2012.

While the Reds legend has had a glittering club career, same cannot be said about his Three Lions career with whom he has suffered agony at international events every other summer since 2000.

The 32-year-old was tipped to retire from international football earlier this summer after another failed European Championship campaign but he decided against it, and he says that the primary reason behind his decision was the emergence of quality players like Wilshere.

In a recent interview, Gerrard said: “When you are my age and have another disappointment with England it (quitting) crosses your mind. After the Italy disappointment, I had a decision to make. But knowing players like Jack were coming through made me feel it was worth hanging about and carrying on for a couple more years to see if things change. If we can produce more players on Jack’s level, maybe we have got a chance of going far in a tournament.”

Wilshere Surprised by Quick Improvement

Jack Wilshere says that he is surprised to be back playing at the highest level for Arsenal and England so quickly after his 17-month-long injury layoff.

The 20-year-old midfielder missed the entire 2012/13 season due to a series of ankle and foot-related injuries but returned back to action last month and did fairly good in the three games that he played for the Gunners. He was then handed an instant England recall too, and he says he is surprised to be back in the thick of things for both the club and country so soon.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, Wilshere said: “I’m quite surprised actually. When I first played in the [under-21s], I was really rusty and I think it was clear for everyone to see. Everyone was just being nice to me saying: ‘You played well.’ Now I’m feeling better and better as every game goes on and there’s no hiding place when you’re playing at the Emirates, at Old Trafford and you’re in front of everyone. You have to be at a certain standard so you don’t let your team-mates and your fans down.”

He further added: “Mentally it has been tough because you question yourself all the time. You go to the Emirates, you watch games and you think: ‘Has it got quicker? I don’t remember it being this quick. Can I get back to this level that I was at before? But I feel good now and hopefully, with a few more games, I can get back to my best.”

Giroud Targets 15 Goals

Olivier Giroud has set himself a target of hitting the 15-goal mark for Arsenal which he thinks would be enough to silence his critics.

The French international has found the back of the net frequently in the past few games and he says that his improved productivity is down to his growing understanding with his teammates.

In a recent interview, Giroud said: “I’m starting to quieten the doubters a bit. I’m feeling better and better in this team and I think you can see it. Last year, I scored 21 goals in the league (for Montpellier) and only one of them was with my head, but it’s true that I’m getting a lot more crosses here.

“I’m trying to build an understanding with my new team-mates and we are getting to know each other more and more. I’d be happy to get between 12 and 15 goals in the league this season.”

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