We've stumbled our way into January and that means it is open season for transfers.
The papers are well aware of this, with transfer chatter concerning a host of clubs.
As well as the transfer talk, there's John Terry being dragged into a political row, and a referee under investigation.
All this and more feature in Friday's edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
Raheem Sterling has worked his way back into the Liverpool first-team picture, but the Mirror’s Darren Lewis reports he is a loan target for Swansea.
Sterling has struck a decent vein of form, with three goals in his last seven outings, but he could be on the move in January.
Lewis claims Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has always been of a mind to send Sterling out on loan, and that could happen if he can secure the services of Mohamed Salah.
The Mirror writer claims talks are progressing with Basel with regard to a deal for Salah, which he feels could pave the way for Sterling to make a temporary loan switch to Swansea.
There are many football fans who are not likely to view Chelsea’s John Terry with much affection, but they will probably shake their heads at a report from the Mirror’s Alan Wilson which suggests he is being blamed for unrest in Ukraine.
Major civil unrest is gripping Ukraine, and Wilson has picked up on a speech by embattled president Viktor Yanukovych.
In his speech, which reportedly lasted 70 minutes, Yanukovych talked about a range of subjects—one of which was a controversial moment in the game between England and Ukraine at Euro 2012.
Terry made a goal-line clearance, which some felt came after the ball had gone in, as England won the game to knock the host nation out of the tournament.
Throughout his career, Terry has been a divisive character—but this is probably the first time he has been blamed for instability in a country.
Mata has found life extremely tough under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, and much has been made of his reaction to his substitution against Southampton.
Lipton suggests Napoli boss Rafa Benitez, who made Mata one of his key players while in charge of Chelsea last term, is ready to enter a race that already includes Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester United.
The Mirror writer claims Napoli made contact with Chelsea within 24 hours of Mata's substitution to “ascertain his position.”
Lipton claims the midfielder will not push for a transfer, but that “Mata’s Chelsea future appears increasingly uncertain and a significant bid from Napoli could bring matters to a head this month.”
Arsenal are preparing a £32 million bid for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, according to the Star’s David Woods.
Arsenal have been linked with a string of forwards in recent weeks, but it is Costa’s name that keeps cropping up.
And Woods suggests Arsenal are ready to trigger the player’s £32m buyout clause.
Wayne Rooney is continuing to stall on signing a new deal, with Chris Wheeler of the Mail suggesting the forward is waiting to see where Manchester United finish in the league and what investment they make.
United have made a poor start to the defence of their league title, and are in danger of missing out on qualifying for the Champions League.
Rooney is heading into the final 18 months of his current contract, and talks over a renewal have not taken place.
Wheeler claims that is unlikely to change until United’s position is clarified.
In his piece, Wheeler wrote:
In the worst-case scenario, United are happy they can absorb the financial blow of failing to qualify for the Champions League. Whether Rooney would be satisfied outside Europe’s elite at this stage of his career is another matter altogether.
The 28-year-old will shortly enter the final 12 months of his contract at Old Trafford and so far his representatives have shown little appetite to accept United’s invitation to step up negotiations over a new one.
It is understood Rooney would prefer to put off any decision until after the World Cup before committing to what will almost certainly be the last major deal of his career.
He wants to see where United finish and what new signings they have lined up after a frustrating transfer window last summer when the club’s lack of pulling power was exposed by a failure to land a series of top targets.
Sevilla defender Alberto Moreno is no longer a target for Manchester United, according to the Star’s Nick Lustig.
Per Lustig's piece, Red Devils boss David Moyes had been tracking Moreno since he impressed the Scot in Rio Ferdinand's testimonial in August.
However, Lustig suggests Moyes’ search for a long-term successor to Patrice Evra will see him focus on the domestic scene.
The former Everton boss is still keen on Toffees left-back Leighton Baines, while he also has an eye on Southampton’s Luke Shaw.
The left-back picture at Old Trafford could be a little clearer come the end of January, as the Mail's Simon Jones claims Moyes is ready to offload Alexander Buttner to Galatasaray.
Star scribe Lustig has been busy, as he claims Inter Milan are plotting a loan raid on Tottenham for Erik Lamela.
Lamela has not found life easy in the Premier League since making the move from Roma in the summer.
There have been a number of reports suggesting Lamela could be heading out on loan, and Lustig has picked up on rumours in Italy.
In his piece, Lustig wrote:
Lamela has struggled since making his club record £30m move to White Hart Lane from Roma in the summer.
Despite Lamela featuring three times under new boss Tim Sherwood, according to reports in Italy Inter are set to step up their pursuit to bring the Argentine winger to the San Siro on a six-month loan deal.
New Inter owner Erick Thohir is looking to overhaul the current squad as well as put his own stamp upon the club.
The Indonesian businessman has earmarked Lamela as one of his top targets.
There will not be any changes at the helm of West Ham United, according to Darren Lewis of the Mirror, and the club will back manager Sam Allardyce in the January transfer window.
The Hammers are in the mire towards the foot of the Premier League table, with a lack of goals from their forwards a real area of concern.
Despite the precarious position, West Ham’s owners will not be reaching for the guillotine. Instead, reports Lewis, they will hand Allardyce the funds to raid the market.
Lewis suggests West Ham will look to press ahead with loan deals for Asamoah Gyan of Al Ain and Everton’s Nikica Jelavic.
The need for a striker is heightened by the potential departure of Carlton Cole to Queens Park Rangers when his short-term expires later in January.
Lewis has quotes from QPR boss Harry Redknapp on Cole:
It’s difficult, as he belongs to West Ham still. Sam Allardyce has his own problems with injuries and everything there.
Carlton is a good player and I like him. He is one of many players we are looking at but if West Ham decide to keep him, it can’t happen.
Referee Mark Clattenburg is being investigated after being accused of “abusing and insulting” Adam Lallana, reports the Mail’s Neil Ashton.
Mail scribe Ashton claims in an exclusive that the incident in question took place during Southampton’s defeat to Everton.
Highlighting a number of images from the game, which show midfielder Lallana and Clattenburg exchanging words, Ashton claims Saints have contacted referees’ chief Mike Riley and have asked the Premier League not to put the official in charge of any of their games while the incident is being probed.
In his piece, Ashton wrote:
Clattenburg has a controversial style and it is understood the alleged insult was directed at Lallana after the referee turned down Southampton penalty appeals late in the game.
Last season, Clattenburg was accused by Chelsea of racially abusing their midfield player John Mikel Obi during a fiery Premier League clash against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
An FA inquiry concluded there was no case to answer and Clattenburg was back in charge of a Chelsea game six months after he had been accused of calling Mikel a monkey.
Aston Villa are reeling from the news that Libor Kozak is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after breaking his leg in training, per a report from the Star’s Dave Armitage.
Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince his top transfer target, according to the Sun's Ian Gordon (Subscription).
If Wolfsburg are to get their hands on Chelsea's Kevin De Bruyne, it will cost them £25 million—per a report from the Telegraph's Matt Law.
According to Luke Edwards of the Telegraph, Newcastle United contacted Montpellier with regard to the availability of forward Remy Cabella.
Real Betis are in the hunt for Stoke City midfielder Wilson Palacios, according to the Mirror’s John Cross.