With the European domestic season done, managers across the continent will begin putting plans in place ahead of the summer months.
Arsenal finished the last campaign with a flourish—securing fourth place and lifting the FA Cup—and Arsene Wenger will be desperate to preserve the positive vibe that currently grips the club until the start of next season.
The best way to do that would be to get some astute transfer business done. Despite their strong finale, it remains abundantly clear that this squad is in need of patching up, so expect Wenger to be already laying the groundwork for a prosperous summer in the transfer market.
Here’s the very latest buzz on Arsenal’s transfer activity:
The French international defender has insisted that his future will be resolved before the World Cup kicks off on 12 June.
Sagna’s contract runs out this summer, and he looks set to go off in search of pastures new. This is despite the Gunners’ recent FA Cup success; the first piece of silverware the club have lifted in the seven years Sagna has been in north London.
For the player, a move to City and the prospect of challenging for major honours much more consistently—not to mention a reported salary of £120,000-a-week, per Danny McCann of The Mirror—is certainly a tantalising prospect.
It’ll be tough for the Frenchman to nail down a regular starting spot ahead of the industrious Pablo Zabaleta, but with City likely to be fighting for trophies in four different competitions, he should see plenty of minutes on the field.
From an Arsenal point of view, losing Sagna would represent a major blow. After seven years at the club, he has developed into a vital player in the Arsenal XI and he’ll be a difficult man to replace. Especially if he walks out of the Emirates without the Gunners recouping a penny.
Swansea City have slapped a £25 million price tag on centre-forward Bony in a desperate attempt to stave off interest from some of the Premier League’s biggest players.
According to the Express, the Welsh outfit want to recoup at least double the £12 million they splashed out to bring the player to the Premier League. But it looks as though they may be resigned to losing their star centre-forward, having already made some early enquires about other options, as explained here by Michiel Jongsma:
According to Le Soir, Swansea and Standard have agreed a fee on striker Michy Batshuay (via @BeNeFoot). Anticipating a Wilfried Bony sale?— Michiel Jongsma (@JongsmaJongsma) May 22, 2014
Bony enjoyed a fine maiden campaign in the Premier League, catching the eye with his power, intelligence and cool head in front of goal. The 25-year-old netted 16 times in the Premier League, per WhoScored.com and is a man that would give Arsenal an exciting new edge to their attacking play.
The former Vitesse Arnhem man is tailor-made for the Premier League. His hulking somatotype makes him enormously difficult to handle physically, but he marries those powerful attributes with wonderful technique and supreme intelligence on the ball.
Bony would be an ideal foil for the Gunners’ intricate attacking talents. It’s difficult to see Wenger splashing out £25 million on a player who has enjoyed just one prosperous season in England, though.
During some commentary for French TV station TF1, Wenger dropped a big hint that he's interested in signing the Real Madrid forward. As per Squawka News, the Arsenal boss insisted that Benzema will definitely play in the Premier League one day and that he may have played his last game in the iconic Madrid strip.
Should Benzema be Arsenal's primary summer target?
Naturally, Wenger's comments have sparked suggestions that the Arsenal boss could be looking to bring the Frenchman to north London to help solve the Gunners’ striking woes.
Benzema has enjoyed a fine end to the campaign, in which he has become a crucial part of Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side. The 26-year-old has smoothed down some rough edges to his game under the Italian, showcasing a side to his game that is about much more than goalscoring.
Here's some of the best bits from Benzema's fine campaign:
The Frenchman helped Los Blancos to a Copa Del Rey win earlier in the season and a highly coveted 10th European Cup win too. It’s curious that Benzema is so often linked with a move away from the Bernabeu, when you consider he and 21-year-old Alvaro Morata are the only two orthodox centre-forward players in the squad.
It’d be a wonderful capture for Arsenal if they were able to construct a deal. Benzema would add some real dynamism to the forward line, and that’d allow the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey to flourish in their creative duties. Whether or not Real would be keen to sell remains a topic for discussion, though.