Arsenal tipped to target Callejon and Thauvin in January sales
Arsenal (25/1 to lift the Champions League) are reportedly interested in bolstering their already impressive attacking midfield options, with Napoli star Jose Callejon and Marseille’s midfield maestro Florian Thauvin both mooted to make moves to north London.
It is likely that only one of these would arrive in winter, with Mesut Ozil consistently rumoured to be heading for an Emirates exit.
Thauvin, 21, has long been reported to be a favourite of Arsene Wenger, with the tactician supposedly keeping regular tabs on his compatriot. With his finger firmly on the pulse of French football, the Gunners coach will be well aware that Thauvin has impressed since swapping Lille for the Stade Velodrome.
Speaking after Thauvin’s 2013 switch, Wenger stated: “The transfer was a surprise to me. He was also followed and we were interested in him before he went to Lille.
“He is one of the great hopes of French football.”
Likened in style to former France international and ex-Marseille star Franck Ribery, the highly-rated youngster has netted twice in nine appearances this term. With Marcelo Bielsa’s men currently flying high, Thauvin would certainly be tricky, and costly, to prise away from the Ligue 1 leaders.
Wenger may find it easier to snatch Thauvin’s clubmate Stephane Sparagna, whose contract with the Stade Velodrome side expires in December. The 19-year-old centre back can also operate in defensive midfield, but would surely be one for the future rather than an immediate fix for the Gunners’ rearguard problems.
To ease Arsenal’s backline woes in the short term, Wenger is apparently preparing to challenge Manchester United for Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar and Celtic centre half Virgil van Dijk. Both Dutch defenders are also believed to be on the Red Devils’ radar, with Louis van Gaal likely holding the edge in any negotiations with his compatriots.
Van Gaal made Vlaar his rearguard linchpin during the World Cup, but never gave 23-year-old Van Dijk a call-up to the Netherlands senior side. However, the youth-orientated coach will certainly know all about the Celtic Park star.
Wenger may have more luck in landing Napoli wingman Jose Callejon. The Spaniard is reported to be hoping for a January move away from Serie A, with Rafa Benitez believed to be willing to let the talented 27-year-old leave in a cut-price deal of around £16m.
Napoli apparently rejected larger bids for Real Madrid’s Castilla product over summer, but could now allow the apparent wantaway winger to depart the San Paolo. Callejon netted 20 times in 52 appearances in league and cup for Napoli last term, but could now link up with compatriots Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Nacho Monreal at the Emirates.