Are Arsenal leaving it late again in the transfer window?
While other clubs and managers in the Premier League have been pushing ahead with their summer recruitment strategy, it seems Arsene Wenger is more content on the beach, having been snapped in Brazil playing football with local fans.
Chelsea have snapped up Cesc Fabregas, and are on the verge of tying up a deal for Diego Costa. Brendan Rodgers is well under way with his plans, having brought in Rickie Lambert, Emre Can and now top target Adam Lallana. Possibly most impressive is Louis van Gaal who has steered Netherlands to the quarter-finals at the World Cup, and managed to negotiate the acquisitions of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw from afar. Even Premier League champions Manchester City have signed midfielder Fernando for £12m from Porto, and Bacary Sagna, with the Frenchman out-of-contract at the Emirates.
To be an Arsenal fan in the transfer window must be more frustrating than trying to book a holiday in term time before the kids break up, to get it cheaper, while dealing with complaints from teachers.
Wenger, though, has always portrayed a demeanour of a certain self-assuredness, and he is probably an expert in psychology. When all appeared lost at the end of last summer, he pulled off a coup that made the rest of the footballing world stand still.
The manner in which he signed Mesut Ozil was nothing short of a tactical master-stroke. Charming him in German lubricated the start of the deal-making process. Dangling the carrot of playing with fellow nationals Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski tapped into the player’s emotions. Offering him the star role in a team that was going to challenge for the title in an arena built for mega-stars of the modern-day gladiatorial ilk proved to be the sweetener.
In the background, work will be being carried out to ensure Arsenal land who they want, whether they are right for the Gunners or not. They are reportedly on the verge of signing Newcastle United right back Mathieu Debuchy, currently on World Cup duty with France, to replace Sagna.
Other targets include Chilean duo Alexis Sanchez, who has spoken of his desire to join Arsenal, and Arturo Vidal. Wenger is a big fan of the latter, seeing him as one of the best midfielders around. It is more likely that they will land Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton, though, as Vidal is reportedly willing to snub Arsenal as well as Chelsea in favour of a move to Old Trafford. Regarding Sanchez, his situation depends on the execution of Barcelona’s recruitment plans.
The Catalan club are currently courting Luis Suarez (a target for the Gunners last season), and, despite Sanchez’s apparent unwillingness to join Liverpool in part-exchange, it would seem that the Uruguayan is going to be a Barca player sooner rather than later. That would leave the path clear for Arsenal to make their move, with Wenger thought to be ready to sanction a £35m bid.
Different reports suggest that Wenger could return to Real Madrid and lure central midfielder Sami Khedira to the Emirates. The player has expressed his sadness at Ozil leaving last summer, as the two are really good friends. A bid in the region of £23m is thought to be being readied by the Arsenal hierarchy, as the German has been told by manager Carlo Ancelotti that he is no longer a guaranteed first choice. He did, however, impress in his first three-and-a-half-years at the club, though a serious knee injury has seen Luka Modric replace him alongside Xabi Alonso.
A target from left-field, and which seems to be building in substance is AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli, who netted Italy’s winning goal against England at the World Cup. The former Manchester City striker, is said to interest Wenger, and an offer could be lodged by the end of the week.
However the summer unfolds, Gunners fans should be quietly confident that their manager knows what he is doing, after proving last year that it would be foolish to underestimate him.