When Arsene Wenger actually admits he has needs, you know the man is getting pretty desperate.
Such is the position that Arsenal find themselves in mere days before the transfer window slams shut on Monday, September 2nd. An unforgivably threadbare squad, further crippled by inevitable injuries, is in desperate need of reinforcement while new faces are allowed to be brought in.
The media know this, and in their innate love of the sensational, have published a variety of transfer stories during these frenzied final days that seem to have little basis in reality.
This member of the media will not. Let's get down to brass tacks: Who do Arsenal actually have a realistic shot of signing? The four players are listed here.
"Please let me go, Mr. Kinnear."
Don't take my word for it: Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew recently stated that his star midfielder has a "50-50" chance of transferring (via The Telegraph)—presumably to Arsenal, who, according to The BBC, submitted a £10 million bid recently.
Yohan Cabaye does not seem like exactly the sort of hard-bodied, defensive midfielder Arsenal so sorely need, but he is an excellent box-to-box man with a vicious free-kick and a tireless work rate.
Arsenal now know exactly what it will take to sign him: £20 million, according to Newcastle's Director of Football Joe Kinnear (via ESPN FC).
He might just be worth it, especially given the Gunners' current depth problem. His exclusion from Newcastle's most recent squads despite being fully fit is a sure sign that something is up.
Arsenal have only two senior goalkeepers. Lukasz Fabianski is due to leave upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the season, while Wojciech Szczesny has not been able to consistently display the sort of maturity that engenders deep confidence.
As in many other areas, the Gunners have both a dearth of depth and skill at the goalkeeping position. But a pricey solution is not necessary.
Put simply, he could provide the requisite cover with more than a modicum of quality for a very reasonable fee.
He's already training with the club, he has not yet reached the age of 30, he could fill a gaping hole in defensive midfield without wanting a long-term commitment and, best of all, he'd come for free: What's not for Arsene Wenger to love?
The snafu, of course, is that Arsenal would not be signing the Mathieu Flamini that departed on a free transfer in 2008 after a stellar campaign alongside Cesc Fabregas.
This is a much more diluted version of the French midfielder, who was mediocre at AC Milan and has not been offered a suitable contract by any club since the end of last season.
Will Wenger be too swayed by the first paragraph to care? Quite possibly; it likely depends, to a large extent, on how sharp Flamini looks in training. But he is a serviceable player, at least, and the ability to be rid of him within a year if things go sour is very attractive.
Angel Di Maria has expressed his affection for his current club, Real Madrid, and reiterated that his contract does not expire until 2018 (via Express). But when he sees Gareth Bale swagger through the door, he might consider buying the Welshman's house in North London.
His position will be occupied by two of the most talented footballers in the world in their respective primes: Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale. There is already much discussion about if and how Carlo Ancelotti will be able to fit the two superstars into one team—squeezing in Di Maria is impossible.
Lukas Podolski's recent hamstring injury reiterates Arsenal's comprehensive depth problem: Left wing was not thought to be an area of tremendous need, but Arsene Wenger now does not have a single natural left-winger to choose from who has first-team experience.
Di Maria most definitely is, as Wenger puts it, a "top, top, top" player. Real Madrid's addition of a man who would probably be the most expensive footballer of all time might just push the Argentine into his arms.