It’s safe to say that Arsenal fans couldn’t possibly be more excited for the upcoming Premier League season.
With Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez signing for the Gunners, optimism is at an all-time high at the Emirates—and for good reason, too.
Their additions mean that Arsene Wenger’s world-class puzzle is nearing completion, and it appears that the Frenchman is now chasing a defensive midfielder to forge his side into as solid an outfit as they are exciting.
With that in mind, Wenger has two big-name players on his radar, the first of whom is Portuguese star William Carvalho.
At 22 years of age, the Sporting Lisbon enforcer is one of the most exciting central midfield prospects in world football, and as Pete O’Rourke of Sky Sports revealed, Arsenal had a £24 million bid knocked back for the youngster on Sunday:
Though a generous offer, Sporting are reportedly holding out for a team to meet Carvalho’s release clause before they let him go, a clause believed to be around £37 million, according to Ben Jefferson of the Express.
Such a fee is rather astounding, but based on Carvalho’s domestic form last term, it’s not too far over the odds.
The Portugal international demonstrates a tough-tackling style while also having the versatility to cover at centre-back when required—something that Fresh Arsenal's Oli Price-Bates thinks will be useful for the Gunners:
However, with an opening bid so far below Sporting’s asking price, it’s difficult to envisage Arsenal offering enough to lure Carvalho from the club, who are only concerned with receiving the right fee for the young midfielder.
As Sporting director Augusto Inacio revealed earlier this month, the Portuguese side want Carvalho’s release-clause fee to be met so that they get the best end of any deal—per David Anderson of the Daily Mirror:
It's not like the old days when players left Sporting at any price. We are not concerned with William Carvalho because we have alternatives, who will want to play as well. The termination clause ensures a great deal to Sporting. I am very pleased with the negotiations. It is not easy to negotiate for players, you need to be very shrewd but Sporting have a president who knows how to negotiate with anyone and what is best for the club.
What’s best for the club is taking £37 million for Carvalho and building for the future, but as Arsenal have already been heavy spenders this summer, they’ll likely miss out on the Portuguese starlet.
The Gunners, then, are better off going for a player with a lower price tag, and have done so by reportedly opening talks with Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin.
As Wayne Veysey of Goal.com reports, negotiations have begun between Arsenal and Southampton over the French international, and he recently increased speculation on his future at St. Mary’s by saying that he was keen to take on new challenges:
I've been there (Southampton) for a long time now. We'll see how things go, but the directors know my position and what my intentions are. Everyone has ambitions, everyone has his own future in his hands, so we’ll see. Every player wants to play on big occasions.
After signing for the Saints back in 2008, the 24-year-old has been instrumental in guiding his side back to the Premier League with several impressive seasons.
Now that he’s achieved international recognition, the time may well be right for Schneiderlin to move on and better his career, and Arsenal would be the perfect place to do just that.
As Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta move into the winter of their careers, Schneiderlin can look to get regular, first-team football at the highest level to aid his progression, and he’ll be considerably cheaper for Arsenal than Carvalho.
Both players are extremely talented young stars, so all that remains is for Wenger to get one of them to put pen to paper.
With an exceptional defensive midfielder added, the Gunners’ weaknesses are no longer clear for all to see, and they can look forward to an exciting campaign.