The reports indicating that Arsenal have agreed a fee for Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira are significant. They are another sure sign that the Gunners have both the determination and deep pockets required to do business with world football’s elite.
The prolonged period of parsimony is over. Arsenal are back operating at the top end of the transfer market.
Spanish paper Marca says that Madrid and Arsenal have nearly come to an agreement on a price for Khedira:
Real Madrid and Arsenal have almost reached an agreement with the Premier League side prepared to pay around €25 million for the international, whose value has increased during the World Cup. After a season in which a serious injury appeared to make it one to forget, Khedira managed to recover just in time to play in the Champions League final, force his way into Joachim Low's German squad and go on to become a regular fixture in the World Cup winning side.
The one stumbling block reportedly remaining is the player’s salary. Khedira’s contract is just a year from expiry, and both he and his representatives will be acutely aware that he stands to make an enormous sum of money if he leaves on a Bosman free in a year’s time.
That doesn’t suit Madrid, who want to ensure they get a fee for him. It doesn’t particularly suit Arsenal, who want him now, either. The player holds all the cards.
It's unlikely Arsenal would come this far in negotiations if they weren't confident a compromise could be reached. It would be strange to agree a fee for a player they feel they have no chance of getting.
However, it should be noted that Khedira's agent has denied that the player is in talks ahead of a move to London, telling the Daily Telegraph's Matt Law: "I don’t think a fee can have been agreed, otherwise I would have been told. When a club have an interest I am sure they will call me and we will speak about things."
Regardless, Khedira's rumoured interest in Arsenal likely extends beyond money. The Gunners offer him a guaranteed first-team place and the chance to join an expanding German contingent which includes Mesut Ozil, his good friend.
That’s not to say he’d be the sole beneficiary of any deal. Arsenal adding yet another World Cup winner to their squad would be an enormous coup and a massive boost, as Ian Darke opined:
Khedira would be massive addition for Arsenal and could be final piece of jigsaw for title bid.— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) July 16, 2014
When Arsenal began their pursuit of a new midfielder this summer, few realistically expected them to land a marquee name like Khedira. There are some concerns over his suitability—he’s not a naturally defensive player, and he has had a career littered with injury problems. However, his potential impact is undoubtedly exciting.
If Arsenal can snare Khedira, it shows that they’re capable of negotiating with the most powerful clubs in world football. Last year, they signed Ozil from Real Madrid. This summer, they have already taken Alexis Sanchez off Barcelona.
If they return to these giants of La Liga for a third time to recruit Khedira, it will demonstrate that the Gunners are back among football’s superpowers.
In each case, they’ve arguably agreed to pay more than they would have liked. Ozil shattered Arsenal’s club record, while Sanchez’s price was probably a little inflated after his outstanding World Cup performances. Khedira, meanwhile, is not cheap for a player who will be available for nothing in less than a year.
However, that merely shows that Arsenal have learnt what it takes to get the big deals done. For too long they were forced to look after the pennies to meet bigger expenses, such as the construction of the Emirates Stadium. Now, supported by a raft of lucrative new commercial deals, the Gunners can afford to go that extra mile.
The results, thus far, have been spectacular.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout next season. Follow him on Twitter here.