There are some Arsenal fans that would have been satisfied with Arsene Wenger only dipping into his notoriously tight pockets for Alexis Sanchez this summer, but the French manager appears far from finished.
Just a few top-quality puzzle pieces remain before the Gunners forge themselves into one of Europe’s most lethal outfits, and Wenger is determined to find the right men for the job.
Having bolstered his attacking line with Sanchez, Wenger will now turn his attention to the Gunners’ defence, and he has several big names lined up.
Wilson writes that the German international only has one year left on his contract at the Bernabeu, and it’s clear that securing his services will only add to the world-class pool of players at the Emirates.
Khedira is enjoying a fantastic World Cup campaign with Germany, producing performances of the highest order throughout, and Stan Collymore believes that with Khedira in their ranks, Arsenal can enjoy more glory:
However, it appears that the cost of luring the 27-year-old to north London is what’s putting Wenger off Khedira, with his transfer fee and wage demands proving excessive.
Wilson reports that the Gunners will need to pay more than £20 million to Real Madrid to get their man, and he reportedly wants in excess of £150,000 per week should he make the switch.
With that in mind, it’s hard to see Wenger forking out for the highly rated midfielder, and he may have to look at other options—John Cross of the Daily Mirror also believes that may be the case:
Reports are also emerging that Chelsea have stepped in to rival Arsenal for Khedira’s signature—per John Cross and Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror—meaning that Wenger may turn his attention to Lars Bender, a player he’s admired for some time now.
Two years Khedira’s junior at 25, Bender has been a standout performer for Bayer Leverkusen in recent years and could have joined Arsenal last summer.
As Metro reports, Arsenal saw a bid of £19 million rejected by the Bundesliga outfit for Bender last year, but have stepped up their interest in the player ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
A stalwart of Leverkusen’s midfield, Bender is similar to Khedira in the sense that he keeps play ticking over, and it’s not difficult to see why Arsenal are looking to sign him.
However, a spokesperson for the club have said that Bender is not for sale and he’ll see out the contract that expires in 2017—per Sky Sports:
"It's absolutely normal that there has been interest in him because he is a top-level player who is improving. But he has a contract until 2017 and he is absolutely happy to stay at Leverkusen."
Though it appears that Bender will make a considerably smaller dent on the Gunners’ finances than Khedira, the fact that a fee around £19 million is likely to be rejected once again means that Bender’s services, too, could require Arsenal’s bank to be broken.
Wenger, then, will need to use his powers of negotiation effectively to lure at least one of them to the Emirates, but with so many high-profile stars already residing in north London, the temptation is there.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are reportedly on the verge of signing a new goalkeeper, with Nice’s David Ospina close to making a switch to the English capital—per Varsky Sports, via Metro.
The Colombian goalkeeper impressed many with his performances at the World Cup in Brazil, and having rejected a new contract in France, Arsenal look to have swooped in for his signature.
The report states that Ospina will cost Arsenal just £3 million, and if his World Cup form is anything to go by, regular goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s place in the side looks under threat next term.
It’s an exciting time to be a Gunner, and while Khedira, Bender and Ospina’s arrivals aren’t secured just yet, the very fact that the club are being linked to such stars will give fans plenty of cause for optimism.
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