TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
EVERTON PLACE £17M PRICE TAG ON BAINES
Manchester United's pursuit of Leighton Baines remains in the early stages despite recent speculation that a deal is close to completion.
The Sweeper understands that the interest from Old Trafford has not yet progressed beyond informal discussions.
Should United step up their chase, Everton intend to remain firm in their resolve to hang on to England's deputy left-back.
It is understood that the Merseysiders privately value Baines at £17 million, a sum they feel could be beyond what United are willing to pay. Sir Alex Ferguson's team have been priced out of moves for Luka Modric, Eden Hazard and Wesley Sneijder in recent times.
As Goal.com revealed earlier this month, United fringe players such as Ji-Sung Park and the Da Silva twins Fabio and Rafael have been mentioned as possible sweeteners in a deal for Baines.
Nevertheless, Everton manager David Moyes is said to be privately belligerent in his desire to keep hold of the former Wigan man, despite the Toffees' financial problems.
The 27-year-old was named in the PFA Premier League team of the year following an outstanding 2011-12 campaign and Everton's system is built around his raids from left-back. He is also the team's set-piece specialist.
Speaking at the end of May, Baines described United's reported interest in him as a big compliment: "The United link is flattering. There is no harm in people talking about it because it is a great club. But I'm at a great club as well, a club that I love.
"Would it be hard to turn United down? I'm not letting my focus shift to that while I am in camp [with England]. I'm focused on what I'm doing at the moment. Would it be hard to leave Everton? Yes, obviously. You know what it means.
"I've been there for five years myself but also know first-hand what it means to a lot of people so, yes, it would be."
BALE TOLD TO PREPARE FOR MOVE ABROADTottenham fans breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when Gareth Bale signed his third contract extension in three years.
The Sweeper understands that the long-term plan of Bale's management team is a move abroad, despite continued interest from the two Manchester clubs.
A source said: "They have convinced Gareth that the next big move is abroad and have told him to 'prepare yourself for it'.
"Gareth's agents don't feel he is ready yet for a move overseas because they fear for his ability to manage it."
Real Madrid and Barcelona have both let their interest in the left-sided flier be known and have scouted the 23-year-old extensively over the last 18 months.
VAN PERSIE DUE BACK AT ARSENAL IN MID-JULY
The first group of players, including Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Santos and Abou Diaby, are due to report back to the club on Monday, June 9 following the summer break.
Those who competed in Euro 2012 will then return at staggered intervals, with the club permitting a minimum of three weeks' rest for each player starting from when their team were knocked out of the tournament.
This means that skipper Robin van Persie, whose Netherlands team exited Euro 2012 on June 17, should be back at London Colney in time for mid-July.
As revealed by Goal.com on Friday, up to six Arsenal players will be absent from the club in order to prepare for the Olympic Games.
Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs are expected to be selected by Team GB, while Henri Lansbury is also in contention for a place in Stuart Pearce's18-man squad.
Park Chu-Young has been picked by South Korea, Ryo Miyaichi will be selected by Japan and Johan Djourou is set for a Switzerland call-up.