Arsenal will play on American soil for the first time in 25 years this pre-season, and while Gunners supporters from across the pond would have liked to have seen more of their team in the flesh over the past quarter of a century, they could be set to witness a rare phenomena: some early summer-window signings for the Emirates outfit.
Arsene Wenger has moved quickly in the off-season to make a couple of fine captures, with defender Mathieu Debuchy and forward Alexis Sanchez already signed up ahead of the next campaign.
The latter in particular has got Arsenal supporters excited ahead of the 2014/15 slog, and Wenger has been explaining exactly why the Chilean's acquisition is so vital for the club, per David Wright of The Express:
He can play through the middle, he can play on both flanks and he has the qualities that I think are needed in England. He's brave, works hard and all these qualities together made me go for him.
At the moment he might play on the flank because Walcott is injured. As well [he can play] through the middle in some games; we can play with Giroud, we can play without Giroud in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-3-3.
That's why he is a major signing for us, that's why we spend a lot of money on him. He has the quality to be efficient everywhere he plays.
These early signings, coupled with the recent FA Cup triumph, will give Arsenal supporters great hope ahead of the new campaign. But if they are to challenge for major honours like the Premier League and the Champions League, the summer splurge can’t stop with these two players.
Here's the very latest on a trio of talents rumoured to be next on Wenger’s hit list.
Karim Benzema Set for Real Madrid Extension?
According to online Spanish newspaper El Confidencial (h/t Jamie Anderson of The Express), the French forward is poised to sign a new deal with the European champions, dashing any hopes of a transfer to Arsenal.
Benzema was a key figure in Real Madrid securing their 10th European Cup triumph last season, and while he often plays an understated role in comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, he still notched an impressive 17 league goals for Los Blancos last season, per WhoScored.com.
Here are some of the highlights from his fine campaign:
While the capture of Sanchez has bolstered the Gunners' forward ranks, Benzema would have also represented an excellent signing. His ability to link the play, run in behind and snaffle chances would have made him a perfect foil for Arsenal, but it seems Carlo Ancelotti is keen to reward Benzema's fine form with a new five-year deal.
And for a reported annual salary of £6.3 million per year, who wouldn't sign on for five more seasons with the Bernabeu club?
Loic Remy Chasing Champions League Football
QPR boss Harry Redknapp has confirmed that his star forward is on the lookout for a move to the Champions League, with Arsenal and Liverpool reportedly at the head of the queue for the player.
Remy is available for £8 million, and Redknapp told talkSPORT (h/t David Kent of the Mail Online) that the Frenchman is almost certain to leave Loftus Road this summer:
I think he really wants to play Champions League football next year somewhere. We gave him time off after the World Cup but I think he’s really looking to move. I would be surprised if he was at QPR at the start of the year.
If he goes to the right team, he’s capable of scoring 15 to 20 Premier League goals next season.
Indeed, Remy struck 14 times in the Premier League for Newcastle during the last campaign, per WhoScored.com, and if Arsenal were to stump up the cash for the 27-year-old, Gunners supporters should expect a similar return.
Remy is at his best playing as a central striker, and he’d provide ample competition for Olivier Giroud to lead the Arsenal line, something that will be vital for the Gunners as they look to challenge for major honours throughout the 2014/15 campaign.
For a fee of £8 million, you rarely get a player of Remy's quality, and if Arsenal don't snap him up, there will be plenty of clubs in the market keen for a player of his indisputable calibre.
Gunners Face Competition for David Ospina
Colombia impressed us all at the 2014 World Cup with their enterprising brand of attacking football, so much so that some of their studious defensive work has been overlooked.
David Ospina did a fine job between the sticks for Los Cafeteros, and Wenger looks as though he's cited the Colombia stopper as the man to provide stern competition for Wojciech Szczesny.
But according to French newspaper L’Equipe (h/t Metro), Arsenal could face some late competition from Valencia for the player.
The piece suggests that while the Gunners have agreed a fee of £3.2 million for the 'keeper, a deal is yet to be finalised; the Spanish outfit seem keen to take advantage.
Here are some of Ospina's best moments from his time with his current club, Nice:
For the 25-year-old, a move to north London seems to make plenty of sense. Arsenal will be looking to challenge for trophies in four different competitions this season, and as such, Ospina would see plenty of game time.
If his performance are in the World Cup are any kind of indicator, he has the talent to challenge Szczesny for the No. 1 spot, too. It's a view shared by beIN Sports' French-based football writer Matt Spiro:
Ospina had difficult season at Nice (injury & dip in form) but potentially top class. Would provide real competition for no1 jersey at #AFC— Matt Spiro (@mattspiro) July 18, 2014
Having lost Lukasz Fabianski, it's no secret that the Gunners need another capable goalkeeper. Ospina would be a shrewd capture, and just as he has done throughout the summer so far, Wenger must act quickly to secure a deal.