West Ham monitor Ox; Chelsea chase Ben Arfa

He joined Hull on loan last season after falling out of the picture at Newcastle, and later had his contract with the Magpies terminated before returning to his native France — since when things have been getting better all the time.

Meanwhile, Metro says Valencia are in discussions about signing Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

The Nigeria international, who moved to Stamford Bridge back in 2006, could make the move to La Liga for around £4 million.

Okore story deepens Villa gloom

Aston Villa have really had a go at rewriting the rules on how to have a miserable season in the Premier League, haven’t they?

Disjointed, distracted and now down, the Midlands club — one of English football’s historic powerhouses — have suffered no end of setbacks since they kicked off back in the August sunshine with a win (yes, a win) at Bournemouth.

And here’s another setback to add to the list — defender Jores Okore refused to play in the home defeat to Bournemouth earlier this month after having been named as a substitute.

It reports that caretaker manager Eric Black has ordered the 23-year-old to train with the club’s under-21s, and it now seems inevitable that he will form part of a small army of players on their way out in a key summer for vexed Villa.


– Atletico Madrid, so strongly linked with bringing Diego Costa back from Chelsea when the window opens, also want to sign Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambu, according to AS.

The Spanish media outlet says Bakambu, who has 22 goals this season, is a major target for Atleti as they look to strengthen their striking options following the departure of Jackson Martinez earlier in the year. But they won’t be without competition — Bakambu is also interesting clubs in both Serie A and the Premier League.

– A little bit of hard-to-believe managerial stuff now. So, all he has done this season is steer Watford to Premier League safety and the FA Cup semifinals — but that might, somehow, not be enough to save Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores from the axe, according to the Mirror.

It says the Hornets “will make a move for Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa” after Watford owner Gino Pozzo’s “end-of-season review, which is likely to end with the sacking of Flores,” with Bielsa “believed to be the favourite” to succeed him at Vicarage Road.

– Chelsea, says the Daily Mail, are angsty about the future of teenage striker Dominic Solanke amid what it says is “an impasse over a new deal.”

The 18-year-old, who has a year left on the contract he signed in 2014, has reportedly turned down offers of a new one — and the Mail says the Londoners “have reacted by preparing a move for Fulham’s 19-year-old striker Moussa Dembele, who will be out of contract in June.”

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