Arsenal fans can already look back on a productive summer transfer window, but with the 2014-15 Premier League season edging closer, the Gunners are still trying to bring in one or two players to help with the title push.
Arsene Wenger has returned from Brazil and has been unusually open with the media from the first day of training, something the fans can only applaud. Optimism reigns at the Emirates Stadium, as everyone seems to have a good feeling about the club heading into next season.
Let's have a look at the latest buzz surrounding some of the players the Gunners are reportedly targeting.
AC Milan's Adriano Galliani admitted the Rossoneri have not received any offers for much-maligned striker Mario Balotelli, singling out Arsenal as one of the clubs not stepping forward, as reported by Goal's Chris Davie:
We have not received any offer [for Balotelli] and at this time, there is nothing from Arsenal.
The Gunners were linked with the forward prior to the 2014 World Cup, with Davie even reporting Wenger met with Balotelli's agent back in June. The controversial Italian had a disappointing campaign, however, and Arsenal have since made it clear their interest has cooled.
It now appears Arsenal are sticking to their guns, as no offer has been made for the forward just weeks before the start of the new Premier League season. Balotelli is supremely talented, and as the club's best player, Milan won't be willing to drop their asking price for the striker too much.
Arsenal could use another striker to compete with Olivier Giroud, but any move for Balotelli would carry a huge risk. The Gunners have seen his play (and antics) from up close several times, and it looks like Wenger is unwilling to spend a large amount of cash on the young Italian.
The French international spoke in glowing terms of former manager Mauricio Pochettino and his new club Tottenham, and it appears Arsenal's bitter rivals are in pole position to land the 24-year-old.
Schneiderlin told Goal's Greg Stobart the club has a great future under Pochettino, crediting much of his development to the Argentine:
I think a manager like that is good for every club. With the quality Tottenham have, Mauricio Pochettino will get the best out of each player.
He came in and made Southampton play and now Tottenham have a great future.
He improved me very much. He improved the whole squad and improved me as a player. He's a great coach and good man and it's a shame Southampton lost him.
Both Arsenal and Tottenham are in the market for a Premier League-ready defensive midfielder, and per WhoScored.com, Schneiderlin fits the bill:
Morgan Schneiderlin: Has made more tackles + interceptions (466) than any other player in the last 2 Premier League seasons— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 21, 2014
The Frenchman could be a cheaper alternative to the likes of Sami Khedira, but his close bond with Pochettino makes a move to the white side of north London more likely.
Schneiderlin is one of the Premier League's better up-and-coming defensive enforcers, playing a pivotal role in front of Southampton's defensive line. He's not as offensively gifted as Khedira or Lars Bender, however, perhaps making him less of a fit at the Emirates.
The Belgian international has been linked with a move to Manchester United for weeks now, and Wenger told reporters he couldn't guarantee the team captain would remain in London this season, per Sky Sports:
I cannot guarantee he will stay, but should he go I would bring another centre-back in for sure.
Vermaelen lost his starting position to the duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny last season, and the performances of those two make it unlikely the Verminator's status at the club will change any time soon.
Arsenal's depth behind Mertesacker and Koscielny is limited, however, and a versatile backup like Vermaelen can be a valuable asset for any club trying to compete in several competitions at once.
Wenger's message that an immediate replacement for Vermaelen would have to be found isn't a surprise, but this close to the start of the new season, the captain's familiarity with the dressing room and system would be a big help for the Gunners.
Vermaelen wants to start somewhere, and Manchester United might not be able to guarantee him such a role. It would still be in the Gunners' best interest to keep him at the club for now and start working on replacing Vermaelen before an eventual transfer.