Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta has defiantly claimed the club have "closed the door" on selling Paul Pogba, suggesting Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has little chance of bringing the former Manchester United midfielder back to the Premier League.
As confirmed in Gill Clark's report for Goal.com, Marotta confirms the Serie A side are not willing to part with the 20-year-old midfielder, who has quickly become a key player in Turin:
From our point of view, we do not want to sell Pogba and so far we have closed the door to any possible buyer.
Our aim is to consolidate the group. We do not want to sell him, but certain assessments must be made later.
Wenger may have to also scrub Karim Benzema's name off his potential transfer list after reports claim the Real Madrid forward could be lined up as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund.
The Bundesliga side have been linked with a swap deal involving Ilkay Gundogan moving the other way, but Jurgen Klopp stayed quiet on the subject when questioned by Bild (via Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC):
I'm not a fan of buying someone solely because of the scoring rate, which means to buy someone who scored 15 goals and set up another 10. Two years from now, there will be strikers nobody was talking about today.
Klopp's comments indicate he could look beyond the realm of a star name to bolster his side's attack, but the refusal to completely rule out a potential swoop for Benzema means this story has real potential for development.
Arsenal fans may be disappointed to entertain the idea of Benzema moving to somewhere other than the Emirates, especially as the club has been linked with his signature throughout the season, per Ben Jefferson of The Express.
The 26-year-old striker has netted 11 goals and provided eight assists across 23 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League this season, per WhoScored.com.
Which area do Arsenal need to strengthen most?
He is often the focal point of attack—a player who creates space in and around the box for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria to exploit.
Wenger certainly needs attacking reinforcements and is playing a dangerous game by not hurrying to sign a new goalscorer. Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner remain the club's only out-and-out strikers, while Lukas Podolski is capable of taking on the role if needed.
Giroud's 10 goals and six assists in 24 appearances is an excellent return this season, but should he face a long-term injury spell, Arsenal's hopes of claiming silverware will significantly deteriorate. Bendtner, despite scoring two goals in recent weeks, is too frustrating for fans to pin their hopes on.
Recent injuries to Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey also suggest Wenger would be wise to strengthen his midfield options.
Although Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini work diligently as ball-winners, Arsenal lack imposing physicality in games against the elite.
Although Wenger has plenty of time left to identify central reinforcements, Pogba is a player who could really take Arsenal to the next level. He oozes similarities to Gunners legend Patrick Vieira, and considering his age, he flaunts a remarkably robust and well-rounded game.
The North London club aim to return to the top of the Premier League with a win over Aston Villa on Jan. 13.
If WhoScored.com's recently tweeted stat is anything to go by, Arsenal will once again sit atop the domestic division after the next 90 minutes:
Aston Villa vs Arsenal: Villa have won just 2 of their 10 home PL games this season, while Arsenal have lost 2 away http://t.co/C9qItNfhyr— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 13, 2014
Arsenal's squad is undoubtedly stacked with quality, but as Wenger pushes his team toward the business end of the season, additional power is needed if the team are going to make good on their promise of capturing a long-overdue trophy.