Mario Mandzukic and Tom Cleverley are the latest players to be increasingly linked with a move to Arsenal, two names that are likely to promote very different responses among fans.
While Arsene Wenger reportedly weighs up a move for the Bayern Munich and Manchester United players, Lukas Podolski has suggested he will remain in north London for the foreseeable future. Here, we provide an update on all three stars.
Latest on Arsenal's Potential Transfer Activity
In: Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich
Mandzukic is among those currently preparing for their time at the World Cup. He heads toward Brazil in the shop window, as Pep Guardiola's decision to leave the Croatian striker out of his DFB Pokal final squad indicated the individual is no longer needed at Bayern.
Niko Kovac, Mandzukic's national team boss, hopes to see the player's future resolved before Croatia head into the World Cup's opening match against the hosts—a match Mandzukic will miss through suspension—reported by Die Welt (via Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC):
I'd be delighted to have it off the table (before the first match). But I can't influence it. It's great to have such world class players in our small country. He can play everywhere in Europe. I am not worried about Mario.
Ross Dunbar of the Mirror believes Chelsea will provide stern opposition to Arsenal's quest to sign the striker who would add an aerial threat to either side.
Mandzukic netted 21 goals across 40 appearances in the Bundesliga and Champions League last season, per WhoScored.com, and he would finally provide the Gunners with a proven alternative to Olivier Giroud.
In: Tom Cleverley, Manchester United
Unthinkable as it may seem, Arsenal are linked with a move for Tom Cleverley by Gary Jones of the Daily Star. Contract talks have reportedly stalled for the much-criticised United midfielder who failed to make Roy Hodgson's final World Cup squad after a dismal season with the Red Devils, per Jones:
Both Arsenal and Everton are understood to be interested in snapping up Cleverley, with Toffees boss Roberto Martinez known to be long-time admirer.
United could use Cleverley as part of a deal to sign Everton starlet James McCarthy, while Arsenal have been linked with a £6m swoop for him in the past.
Cleverley could slot into Arsenal's centre, where his short passing game may offer the likes of Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere cover. United's midfielder doesn't offer the type of incisive dribbling skills Wenger likes his players to possess, suggesting he would be brought in to make up the numbers at best.
Out: Lukas Podolski
Often as unstoppable as he is wasteful, Podolski's displays ensure he produces love and annoyance in equal measure. Rarely deployed in his favoured striker's role, the German has been the subject of a potential Arsenal exit as long as his north London career has gone on.
Speaking ahead of the World Cup, the explosive player indicated he is extremely happy at the Emirates, per ESPN:
As things stand today, I am an Arsenal player [and] it won't change. Going to London was the right step. I had the chance to go to a big club and to play in the strongest league in the world. I am happy in the city, in the league, in the club. Those two years have been outstanding for me.
He netted nine goals in 17 appearances across the Premier League and Champions League last season, despite a lengthy injury lay-off, per WhoScored.com. At full fitness, Podolski has proven throughout his career he is more than capable of making an impact at any level. Wenger will certainly want to maintain the versatile forward, whose left-footed strike outshines anyone else at the club.
Arsenal's FA Cup win highlights a squad that possesses plenty of quality, but it needs something of a lift to continue progressing. Podolski's happiness is good news, while Mandzukic's potential availability is worth acting on for the boss, who needs additional firepower up front.
Reports of Cleverley coming in seem far-fetched right now, particularly as Wenger needs to prioritise a physical, ball-winning midfielder over one whose lack of standout attributes define his game.
The Gunners need to continue moving in the right direction next season. Landing the FA Cup ensures many will be looking for the club to push on in the Premier League and Europe, suggesting a pool of additional talent is needed to strengthen the club's depth.
Wenger's moves will be interesting to watch. Having failed to make any significant signings in January, the French manager needs to act positively and with real intent to ensure the Gunners don't go another nine years without a trophy.
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