Arsenal Transfer News: Latest Offseason Rumors for the Gunners
As significant as that news would be, the Gunners have also been linked with three prominent international midfielders. Their seemingly differing styles represents the dilemma manager Arsene Wenger faces trying to upgrade Arsenal's midfield ranks.
It also appears that Wenger is set to miss out on a long-term target. What is clear amid the speculation, is that Arsenal's supposed new-found spending power is determining the latest transfer rumours.
1. Talks Have Begun to Sign Gonzalo Higuain
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Reports in The Daily Mirror suggest Gunners chief Arsene Wenger has taken the first steps towards sealing a deal for Gonzalo Higuain. According to John Cross of The Mirror, Wenger recently had discussions with Higuain and his father, who is also the striker's agent.
Wenger is said to be hopeful of landing the free-scoring 25-year-old for £20 million. That may be considered a reasonable fee for a player young enough to be approaching, but still not at his peak.
Higuain is also a superior finisher to current Arsenal strikers Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski. He plays with greater quickness and above-average strength.
That makes Higuain a natural fit to act as the focal point of Arsenal's forward line. Better still, as a former attacking midfielder, Higuain is technically adept enough to link well with others.
He has skill to be an asset in the type of combination play Wenger emphasizes. That is if Arsenal can convince him to choose a move to North London over joining Serie A giants Juventus.
A fresh report from The Daily Mirror suggests Juve have tried to initiate talks of their own to sign Higuain. However, Cross states the Turin outfit were rebuffed until Los Blancos hire a new manager.
An article in The London Evening Standard suggests Real will demand £25.5 million for Higuain. Wenger rightly loathes being held to ransom in the transfer market, so this could scupper a deal.
2. Long-Term Target Stevan Jovetic Apparently Declares Juventus Preference
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Arsenal's pursuit of Higuain could be helped by the improved chances of Juventus swooping for Stevan Jovetic. The mercurial Fiorentina ace has spent a long time on Arsenal's radar, but seems to prefer a move to The Old Lady.
That is according to reports from Sky Sports, who quote an interview Jovetic gave to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Jovetic had this to say about Juve's mooted interest:
Juventus have been trying to get me for over a year. They say they want me and that I am first on their list ahead of (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, (Carlos) Tevez and (Gonzalo) Higuain. Who wouldn't be flattered by that?
Despite the obvious lure of Juventus for Jovetic, he did appear to leave the door ajar for a potential switch to the English Premier League:
I will also evaluate the Premier League, which is a fantastic championship, as well as La Liga. I have proposals from each of them so let's see what happens.
It would be a shame to miss out on Jovetic despite his supposed €30 million price tag. The 23-year-old is ready to join the ranks of the game's elite.
He also perfectly fits the mold of the type of the creative, roaming central striker Wenger has often deployed. Sadly, this proposed deal has been on again, off again enough to believe it's never going to stick.
3. Wenger Keen on a Bold Swoop for Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan
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Always good for a sensationalist rumour, The Daily Mail recently stated Wenger is eager to sign Borussia Dortmund's midfield fulcrum, Ilkay Gundogan. The Mail's Rob Draper suggests Wenger will attempt to snare Gundogan for a £20 million fee.
Even for a fee that healthy, it would surely be difficult to convince Dortmund to sell. However, Gundogan would certainly be worth the effort.
A natural conductor of play, Gundogan is a cerebral midfield general. Although he often occupies deep areas, Gundogan is no rough and tumble enforcer.
Instead, he dictates possession with cultured passing. Many feel that Arsenal should be looking for greater physicality in the middle.
But pairing Gundogan with Mikel Arteta, would give Arsenal another crafty playmaker. That would improve the quality and imagination of the team's overall passing game.
Draper included Gundogan as part of a potential triple transfer raid. The rumour is more than bold, but signing Gundogan would be a major coup for Wenger. The 22-year-old is a young star enjoying a rapid rise.
4. Lars Bender Is Still an Option
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He is combative, but his game is ultimately defined by his quick and intelligent passing. He is a technically sound playmaker still boasting a tenacious edge.
The 24-year-old would be an asset at the base of Arsenal's midfield. His passing quality would suit and even help upgrade the flow of Arsenal's intricate style of play.
Bender would also be a competent defensive presence who would supplement the back four. Those attributes mean it won't be easy to tempt Leverkusen into a sale. Draper suggests a £17 million fee.
5. Arsenal Ready to Bid Big for Marouane Fellaini
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It is a major fee, but one that would help Arsenal acquire a player possessing the qualities their midfield has missed. Fellaini is the type of combative, marauding midfielder Wenger used to favour.
The emergence of diminutive schemer Cesc Fabregas, encouraged Wenger to alter the style of Arsenal's play. A more intricate brand of football required a different type of midfielder.
Slight, but technically assured and quick players replaced powerful and skilled runners. Acquiring Fellaini would give Arsenal a strong and direct link player.
The towering Belgian is a force at both ends of the pitch. His aggressive tackling and aerial prowess are assets, but often overshadow Fellaini's underrated technical quality.
His critics will argue he is a red card waiting to happen. So was Patrick Vieira, and no sane Gunners fan would have traded away the dynamic Frenchman because of disciplinary issues.
Fellaini is not in Vieira's class. But the 25-year-old does have the right skills physically and creatively to seize control of games.
BBC reporter David Ornstein did refute the initial rumour. However, even though the prospective fee is eyebrow raising, few could complain about adding a dominant all-round midfielder with EPL experience.