Arsenal's reportedly simmering interest in Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria has received a boost alongside reports of the European champions targeting Colombian World Cup sensation James Rodriguez.
Spanish publication AS indicates Di Maria is no longer wanted at the Bernabeu—despite a terrific 2013-14 season with the club—as president Florentino Perez looks to add the rising stock of Rodriguez to his list of hefty annual splurges.
Di Maria is happy to move on if he is no longer considered a vital ingredient of Carlo Ancelotti's squad, per the aforementioned report and translated via 101 Great Goals:
AS report on Tuesday that Angel Di Maria wants to leave Real Madrid as he does not feel valued at the club. Amongst those that would be interested are Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Monaco and Juventus.
Di Maria would be a natural fit for the Premier League with his pace and stamina and you would suspect that Arsenal may well also be interested if Manchester City or Manchester United cannot agree a deal for a player valued at 50 million euros.
Which player should Arsene Wenger try to sign?
Now Di Maria is said to be considering life after Madrid, Arsene Wenger may be coaxed into action for the player he tried to sign last summer, per John Cross of the Mirror, who says Los Blancos may be willing to let the Argentinian maestro leave for £25 million. In a later report, Cross suggests €50 million (around £40 million) will be needed to secure Di Maria's signature.
Despite a handful of underwhelming performances at the World Cup, Di Maria's energy was key to Madrid's success last season. Now versatile enough to play on either wing or from central midfield, his tireless work rate, creativity and incision continue to impress. He notched seven goals and 22 assists across a combined total of 45 La Liga and Champions League appearances last season, per WhoScored.com.
Arsenal would certainly need to deal in big bucks if they are to compete for the 26-year-old's arrival. An alternative option may be Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne, who is said to be available for around £20 million, per ESPN.
Fabio Andreotti, the player's agent, has played down the Gunners' reported interest. "We have not been contacted by Arsenal for Lorenzo Insigne and Napoli has not notified us of this interest," he told Radio CRC, noted by ESPN. Andreotti also indicated Insigne is a target for "several European sides," but that Napoli aren't willing to sell.
Insigne's progression has slowed in recent times, but he still grabbed a place in Italy's World Cup squad. He made just one substitute appearance in Brazil, coming into the tournament after scoring six and assisting seven in 46 performances across Serie A and Europe. Although predominantly a left-sided midfielder, he could be utilised on the opposite wing by Wenger.
Frank Isola of the NY Daily News and ESPN suggests Insigne could be something of an underwhelming signing if it means Di Maria doesn't arrive:
Lorenzo Insigne may be the worst player in the World Cup. And Italy plays like they are on vacation. What a disgrace.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) June 20, 2014
Neither player would address Wenger's main needs: A striker, midfield destroyer and right-back. Although Arsenal could use additional creative spark, the return of players including Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will provide the French boss with greater attacking options than he could utilise at the end of last season.
Di Maria would be an excellent signing, while Insigne has plenty to prove at the top level. Right now, only the former would really improve an Arsenal side that is looking to continue progressing after dropping away from last season's title race.