Any pain Liverpool and Tottenham suffered over the FA Cup weekend, when Spurs crashed out of the competition and the Reds were held to a goalless draw with Bolton, was dealt an extra blow with the news that the pair’s long-time transfer target, Fabian Delph, signed a new contract at Aston Villa.
The 11/2 and 7/1 respective top-four hopefuls have had their hearts set on the England man since the end of last season and would have been surprised to hear of the tough-tackling 25-year-old’s commitment to a four-and-a-half year contract at the Midlands club in the face of their interest.
A trip back to the drawing board is now required for both clubs, with perhaps any combination of these three names cropping up in discussions about new central-midfield targets:
Maxime Gonalons – Lyon
A target of Arsenal’s last summer, the 25-year-old has since attracted interest from Manchester United during a campaign that has seen Gonalons start all but one game for Les Gones so far.
The Venissieux native averages four tackles per game in Ligue 1 this term, which would be the joint-highest tally in the Premier League, alongside Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva.
Oriol Romeu – Chelsea
Like most of the youth at Stamford Bridge, Romeu has found breaking into the Blues’ first team a tough task, spending last season on loan at Valencia before being temporarily farmed out to Stuttgart for the current campaign.
Able to display his ability to read the game in the 15 Bundesliga starts he has been afforded, Romeu has made the most interceptions of any central midfielder in the division and has been neat and tidy with the ball, completing 83.5 percent of his passes.
James McArthur – Crystal Palace
If the attraction to Delph was his domesticity, then a top-flight based Scot could interest Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino alike.
McArthur has only been an Eagle since the summer, but has impressed in his 17 appearances for the club since joining from Wigan Athletic.
An all-round player in Delph’s mould, he could be a far cheaper alternative to the likely costly England international.
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