Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hinted the side are not quite done in their summer transfer endeavours just yet, leaving the door open for further additions to his squad, which may include Real Madrid's Sami Khedira.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the Gunners' 2-0 preseason opening win over Boreham Wood, the Frenchman was asked if there will be more to come after the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, responding:
It's not over, there's still a long way to go. I can't give you any names because you're never sure if you can do what you want, but we're still out there to strengthen our squad."
We have big competition in midfield, but we have many players who didn't play many games last year - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby. They're back now but it's very difficult to predict how fit they will be at the start of the season.
Aaron Ramsey—who featured in Saturday's friendly win, was another name absent for key stages in the the club's 2013-14 campaign, which experienced a downward spiral in conjunction with the Welshman's injury.
Earlier this week, it was reported by Metro that Arsenal had agreed a £19.8 million deal for Khedira's services, only for the midfielder's agent Jorg Neubauer to refute such claims, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail:
We are not in talks with Arsenal. I don’t think a fee can have been agreed, otherwise I would have been told. We are talking to Real Madrid about his contract, but nothing is close to being decided. Sami has just returned from the World Cup and has gone on holiday.
A potential deal-breaker in negotiations as things stand is Khedira's wage requirements, which Jones claims are at the £180,000-a-week mark, while Metro says it's closer to £150,000-a-week.
Either sum would be difficult for the North Londoners to match, but to hear Wenger is at least aware of his shortcomings in midfield may well be seen as a positive for fans.
Ian Abrahams of talkSPORT says the salary situation has left Arsenal looking at alternative options:
Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is said to be a target for Arsenal, as it looks like Sami Khedira wont be moving to the Emirates— Ian Abrahams (Moose) (@BroadcastMoose) July 18, 2014
But the same will undoubtedly have been said for Mesut Ozil and indeed Sanchez, too, both of whom will be on wages which, in the past, it may seemed improbable the club would ever pay out.
Granted, the Gunners won't be matching the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea to that extent any time soon, but to rule out Khedira's arrival altogether would seem irrational under the emerging policies.
At present, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are perhaps the closest things Wenger has to the kind of box-to-box presence he requires. The likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Diaby (when fit) may bring creativity, but there's a lack of physicality in this team's core at times.
Depending on how long Khedira's situation at Real Madrid drags on, the player may open up more to the idea of an exit, with just a year left on his Bernabeu contract and competition even tougher following the arrival of fellow World Cup winner Toni Kroos.
The waiting game is a ploy Wenger and Arsenal as a collective will be familiar with in their hunt for cut-price deals, and while others may snap at the first offer, the Emirates outfit may be prudent in choosing to see how Khedira's stance progresses.