Arsene Wenger has effectively ruled his side out of the running to sign Cristian Tello this month, adding that Arsenal are "highly unlikely" to conclude any transfer business in the winter window.
The Gunners boss was on hand to watch the Barcelona starlet score his first hat-trick for the club in the second half of their 4-1 Copa del Rey win over Levante on Wednesday evening, per the Daily Mail's David Kent.
Quoted by The Mirror's John Cross ahead of Friday's FA Cup fixture against Coventry City, Wenger hinted there's nothing to the rumours linking his club with a move for the Spaniard, fuelled by his appearance at London's Heathrow airport:
#afc Wenger confirms he was at Heathrow but says links with Tello are 'wide of the mark'— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 23, 2014
Arsenal have been associated with a long list of attacking targets this winter, with backup for Olivier Giroud already thought to be a priority prior to Theo Walcott's season-ending knee injury.
However, it would appear Wenger is satisfied with the squad that has got him to the top of the Premier League standings halfway through the 2013-14 campaign, per Cross' Twitter:
#afc Wenger admits he feels 'guilty' for not having any transfer news for us. Says any deal 'highly unlikely' now— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 23, 2014
Tello has found it difficult to break the first-team mould at the Camp Nou. With the likes of Neymar, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez ahead of the youngster in Gerardo Martino's pecking order, the 22-year-old has started just two La Liga games this season, per Transfermarkt.
With chances limited, the winger-cum-striker pounced on his opportunity during this week's cup competition. His second-half trio of finishes against Levante showed he may yet have the potential to become a Camp Nou star.
South American expert Rupert Fryer admits Tello's most recent outing showed aspects of the attacker that may have previously been clouded:
Always thought Tello was essentially a one-footed Pedro without any of the intelligence. Egg on my face.— Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) January 22, 2014
Wenger is known not to be a fan of the January transfer window, and has said he'd like to see the winter opening scrapped, per the Daily Mail's Laura Williamson.
The Premier League helmsman was presumably scouting talent on his trip to Catalan country, but it wouldn't be a shock to see the characteristically conservative Gunners chief finish this month with no moves on the board.
Despite Tello's impressive outing for La Blaugrana this week, the forward needs playing time to fulfil his potential, which could come via a loan spell elsewhere.
With the Gunners in need of offensive additions, and the forward in need of minutes on the pitch, it's a move that would benefit all parties if Wenger opted to capture the youngster.
That being said, Wenger isn't a man to sugarcoat matters more than is required, and any links made between the manager's presence and Tello's encouraging development would seem speculative at best.