Arsenal are upping their interest in World Cup stars Alexis Sanchez and Juan Cuadrado, according to reports.
The Gunners are said to have leapfrogged both Juventus and Liverpool in the race for Sanchez's signature, as reported by Spanish media agency Cadena COPE and translated by 101 Great Goals: "According to those reports, Arsenal and Liverpool have lodged bids with the Catalans for the forward, while Arsene Wenger took the opportunity of being at the Chile-Spain game to speak directly with the player’s agent about a move."
Enrico Passarella indicated on GianlucaDiMarzio.com that Juve are in for the player but may struggle to offer the "economic resources" needed to land the Chilean star. C. Navarro of Marca also follows this line and reports a Tuttosport claim that the Old Lady will offer Fernando Llorente in a deal to soften the cash blow.
Arsenal are said to be hunting Fiorentina's Cuadrado, who is capturing the attention of many after a pair of incisive performances at the World Cup. Gary Jones of the Daily Star reports interest from the North London club while acknowledging Wenger may have a battle on his hands with this one as well:
Barcelona are understood to want to reinforce their squad with the 26-year-old winger, who can also play as a full-back, but are now facing interest from the Gunners. The reports suggest the north London side have sent a representative from the club to negotiate a deal with the Fiorentina ace's agent.
Bayern Munich are also understood to be interested and have already offered him a lucrative deal.
Which signing should Arsenal prioritise?
Jones indicates Wenger is said to be meeting Mino Raiola, Mario Balotelli's agent, during his time in Brazil. All three players have enjoyed attention-grabbing starts to the World Cup, meaning the Gunners boss will need to act quickly and decisively if he is to lure any to the Emirates.
Sanchez's energy and ability to cut through defences would be welcome. He is versatile, works hard to ensure Chile maintain a lively pace and is an excellent finisher when in front of goal. The 25-year-old's 19 La Liga goals came from 27 starts and seven substitute appearances, indicating he has more to offer at club level, per WhoScored.com.
Cuadrado is most often let loose as a flying winger, but he could offer a replacement to Bacary Sagna at right-back. The Colombian is an all-round worker, capable of playing in midfield, and would add real spark to an already fast-paced Arsenal side. Cuadrado's dribbling skills and ambition when shooting from long range ensure he would also slot into Wenger's forward line.
Balotelli represents the best solution to the North London club's striker problem and has the ability to push Olivier Giroud out of the starting lineup. The former Manchester City forward played excellently against England during their recent World Cup match, heading the winner beyond Joe Hart in a mature display.
If such deals fail to materialise, Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail suggests Joel Campbell could return from his loan spell with Olympiakos to light up Wenger's side, fresh after performing admirably at the World Cup and scoring a Champions League stunner against Manchester United:
Eyebrows raised, eyes slightly widened; is this the man - farmed out to Greece after tricky spells with Real Betis and Lorient - Arsenal have been missing? The answer already appears to be yes, given Wenger’s admittance that Campbell would be on his way back to the club for pre-season after three campaigns away.
Wenger will undoubtedly wish to strengthen in attack and should look to follow last summer's signing of Mesut Ozil with another world-class addition. Sanchez, Cuadrado and Balotelli all have the ability to make a positive impact at a club that needs greater firepower to compete across an entire season.
We can expect these reports to run and run, as Wenger has a difficult summer ahead if he's to land any of the aforementioned trio.