Arsenal are yet to capture their first signing of the summer, even though title rivals Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United have already moved to improve their squads.
Despite being linked with a number of talented players, the most intense speculation currently surrounds Mikel Arteta, whose agent has been forced to deny he is leaving the North London club.
Inaki Ibanez, Arteta's representative, has dismissed claims the Basque midfielder will head to Athletic Bilbao as a replacement for Ander Herrera, who recently joined United. "This is totally false," Ibanez told El Mundo Deportivo, via Francisco Acedo of Sky Sports. "Mikel has no interest in leaving Arsenal."
Arteta remains a key component of the Gunners' midfield, where he effectively mops up danger and distributes possession in the centre. Wenger will be keen to maintain the Spanish leader's services at a time where Arsenal are expected to regularly compete for trophies after capturing the 2013-14 FA Cup.
Emirates onlookers will already be watching on nervously as Wenger looks to replace Bacary Sagna after the French full-back joined City, per Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail. Newcastle's Mathieu Debuchy is being touted for a £12 million move to the capital, a hefty fee considering Sagna departed on a free.
"France right-back Debuchy is being watched by the Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger at the World Cup in Brazil, and is also on the transfer radar of French sides Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco," noted by Simon Bird of the Mirror.
Peter Wood of the Metro, a lifelong Arsenal fan, suggests Debuchy's signing could provide a stop-gap until a more long-term replacement for Sagna takes over:
Well, my gut feel would say this means Arsenal see Hector Bellerin (19), the young Spaniard we nabbed from Barcelona, as the future long term right-back at Arsenal. If we bring in Debuchy and give him three years, he can slowly move over and we’ll have an extremely exciting prospect ready to take over.
Away from defence, Wenger will be keen to expand his creative options. Hamburg's Hakan Calhanoglu is said to be interesting the club, although Arsenal face a difficult battle to lure him away from the Imtech Arena, or indeed, Bayer Leverkusen, reported by Ben Burrows of the Mirror.
Sascha Lewandowski's club have already had a bid turned down for the talented 20-year-old, and are expected to return with a second attempt. "We have already submitted a written offer to Hamburg," said Rudi Voller, Leverkusen's sporting director, per Anthony Champman of the Express. "It's been refused for now, but will hopefully not be the last word."
Calhanoglu shouldn't be deemed a priority signing by Wenger, who must quickly address Arsenal's lack of strikers. Despite intense rumours linking Mario Balotelli to the club, the player's agent has finally decided to quash talk of a potential transfer by saying, "I did not go to Brazil for any talks and I have never met Wenger," per RaiUno and via Simeone Bargellini of Sky Sports.
Even so, Mino Raiola indicated "maybe it was a mistake to bring Mario back to Italy," suggesting a transfer away from Milan is likely to go ahead.
Arsenal fans will certainly approach any transfer rumours with real caution. However, the lack of activity so far shouldn't worry supporters, even though Premier League rivals continue to strengthen.
Wenger needs to make sure this summer's signings are ready to produce an instant impact and continue Arsenal's push for silverware, so he is likely to take time before committing to an individual. Let's not forget last summer's deadline-day arrival of Mesut Ozil and how that may act as precedent for this year's activity.
Debuchy may turn out to be an essential purchase, although Wenger will hope to land at least one name that will inject fear into Arsenal's main competitors next season.
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