Arsene Wenger won't be following Sir Alex Ferguson on the list of legendary managers leaving or anything, but he will be tasked with fixing a roster in need of improvement. The Gunners need a win versus Newcastle United on Sunday to lock up a chance at qualifying for the Champions League.
While that may seem shocking for such a consistently competitive side, Arsenal’s journey to fourth (or third) place is actually quite surprising considering what a season of turmoil it has been. The departures of stars like Robin van Persie loomed over the 2012-13 campaign, exposing some gaping holes in player development—something usually not seen under Wenger.
That’s expected to lead to a big spending summer for the Arsenal boss.
The Gunners have long been among the most conservative sides on the transfer market, often choosing youth over high-priced veterans. But with spending expectations high for this summer, Arsenal have been linked to plenty of top names hitting the market.
With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of all the latest news and notes from Holloway.
Hamburg Goalkeeper Rene Adler Not Considering a Move?
It's not exactly talking out of turn to say the Gunners will desperately be looking for a new top keeper this summer. The Lukasz Fabianski era hasn't worked out the way anyone expected, and Wojciech Szczęsny is still just 23 years old—far too young to take over a side looking for a Premier League championship next season.
Though Szczęsny has been in fine form of late—a key to Arsenal’s late-season surge—the search for next season’s keeper has long been underway.
One of the most prevalent names has been Hamburger SV’s Rene Adler. John Cross of the Mirror reported last month that Adler topped Wenger’s list after the club said “thanks but no thanks” to paying astronomical sums to Sunderland's Simon Mignolet and Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic.
The 28-year-old Adler joined Hamburg just last year but helped put together a strong campaign. After finishing 15th in the Bundesliga standings in 2011-12, Hamburg has ascended to seventh place thus far. Much of that has been due to Adler.
But with goalkeepers in demand and Adler among the most talked-about assets for Hamburg, there has been plenty of speculation. It’s understandable—just don’t bother Adler about it.
Downplaying the Arsenal speculation, the German-born Adler seemed just fine playing in his home country’s league in an interview with Sport-BILD (h/t Sky Sports).
"I am under contract with Hamburg, that is a fact,” said Adler. “I can say that I have not thought about leaving or considered a transfer since I joined Hamburg (in May 2012)."
Adler is under contract until 2017 with Hamburg. And if his recent quotes are any indication, don’t look for him to break that pact anytime soon.
Julio Cesar Leaving QPR, but Won’t Comment on Arsenal Move
With Queens Park Rangers in dead last in the Premier League table and headed for relegation, the club is expected to be selling off parts left and right. That’s especially the case for veterans, whose services could certainly be used elsewhere.
One such roster casualty will be goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The 33-year-old keeper came over from a long-term stint with Inter in 2012 and was one of a select few positives from QPR’s season. He often kept the damage to a minimum despite dreadful defense in front of him, proving that there is little if any atrophy in his game.
Which goaltender should Arsenal focus on landing?
While Cesar had been benched lately for Rob Green, that move was more preparatory for Harry Redknapp than anything. The QPR boss said that Cesar will be leaving this summer via a transfer because he is “not a player for the Championship,” according to Jack Pitt-Brooke of the Independent.
With confirmation he’s leaving out of the way, speculation began about him moving a hop, skip and a jump over to Arsenal. Again, the Gunners’ desperation for a goaltender is not exactly being spoken about in hushed tones.
Reports have even surfaced that Cesar heading to Arsenal is all but a done deal. The star keeper wouldn’t comment on that possibility in an interview with SporTV (h/t the Mirror), but the possibility seems open after a coy response:
It is confidential. My future today is a question mark. I have three more years on my contract, but the manager has already made it clear that it will be hard for me to stay at the club. I am happy he thinks that way, it is a sign that my work is being recognized. I dedicated as much as I could to QPR.
While Cesar’s coyness doesn’t tell us much, this has long seemed like a perfect match. The goalie has long stated his desire to stay in London even if QPR was relegated, and joining a club like Arsenal would represent a massive step forward.
Nothing is for certain, but we’d be shocked if Cesar landed anywhere else this summer.
Arsenal Wants Extension, Bacary Sagna Not So Sure
Most of the transfer window news focuses on new players being brought in. The incoming players are far more intriguing than the ones you’ve already gotten to know and thus get more attention during the always-active summer window.
But adding new players means nothing if equally talented ones are walking out the door.
Such is the case for Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna. The Frenchman has been with the Gunners since 2007, and many consider him the best right back in the Premier League. However, his contract expires next summer and negotiations have been a long and arduous process.
A 30-year-old veteran with a ton left in the tank, it’s no surprise that Sagna has seen a ton of interest elsewhere. French giant Paris Saint-Germain have been linked to Sagna, as the high-spending side hoped to bring him back to his home country.
The likelihood of that move remains fluid. It was once deemed a mere formality that Sagna would walk this summer, with Arsenal looking to get anything they could before his contract expires. But the situation has grown less dire of late, and there seems to be real hope that the two sides can work on an amenable pact.
Still, Sagna isn’t making any commitments about his future—at least not publicly. Speaking with French publication Le 10 Sport (h/t the Mirror), he was about as noncommittal as a person could possibly be.
"I could very well extend my contract here in London but equally I could leave at the end of the season,” Sagna said. “I only have one year left on my contract. We will see.”
So he might leave. Or he might not. Nice to see Sagna is taking his public comment tips from Dwight Howard nowadays.
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