Arsenal have been quite active in the transfer market already this summer, but it is clear Arsene Wenger and company are far from finished.
After signing Alexis Sanchez to upgrade the attack and Mathieu Debuchy to provide an impact on defence, the club is continuing to look for ways to improve heading into the English Premier League season. Considering the various other moves from around the league, it is clear that more will be needed in order to contend for a title.
The good news is the squad is already looking at a few potential options who could either crack the starting 11 or provide depth going forward. Here are the latest players tied to Arsenal through the rumour mill.
Matija Nastasic, Manchester City
Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star reported that Manchester United are attempting to sign Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen. However, Arsenal are not going to let him go without finding someone to replace him on defence.
One player the Gunners are targeting is Manchester City centre-back Matija Nastasic. The 21-year-old player has been on Arsenal's radar for some time, and now he can be an option to replace Vermaelen, according to David Kent of the Daily Mail:
The Serbia international was watched extensively by Arsenal scouts during his time at Fiorentina, but City moved quickly to snap up Nastasic in 2012 as he developed a reputation as one of the best emerging defenders in Europe.
Despite missing out to City, the North London club remain keen on Nastasic and are set to revive their interest should Vermaelen leave.
Kent also notes that the move would likely cost around £16 million, which would be a reasonable sum for a player with this much upside.
Nastasic struggled to see the pitch with Manchester City last season but showed plenty of ability when he was given a chance. He has good size to win aerial duels, and he knows what to do when he does get control of the ball.
He will not be given a starting role immediately with Arsenal, considering Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have performed well together, but he will have plenty of opportunities to get playing time right away. As he continues to improve, his role will grow as he hopefully becomes a steady presence in the future.
This transaction will not cost Arsenal too much money, but it will be a major upgrade for this season and beyond.
Phil Jones/Chris Smalling, Manchester United
Just like the plan to bring in Nastasic, the club will continue to look for young centre-backs who can replace Vermaelen. However, an easy way to do it is to bring in a player in the same transaction.
John Cross of the Mirror explains that Arsenal want to acquire one of Manchester United's young prospects:
Arsene Wenger wants cash plus a player before letting Thomas Vermaelen go to Manchester United.
With the star a £10 million target for the Reds, Arsenal boss Wenger has Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in his sights.
Considering Vermaelen has seen his production drop recently while both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are on their way up, this seems like a long shot. However, it would be a great deal if Arsenal can pull it off.
Jones and Smalling each played a big role in Manchester United's past season. At 22 years old, Jones made 26 starts at centre-back, right-back and defensive midfield. Smalling also spent time at both half- and full-back, making 21 league starts despite being just 24 years old.
The two players even started for England in the World Cup against Costa Rica as the two sides played to a scoreless draw.
Not only would either of these men represent a brilliant future at the position for Arsenal, but they would also be able to step in right away and make an impact for this season. The fact that they can provide cover at right-back is also a bonus.
On the other hand, Manchester United might want to keep a few players who could be key this season. Ryan Giggs even noted they have a chance to become captains, via Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News:
The decision hasn't been made yet. Louis [van Gaal] is still getting to know the players. He's still trying to see their qualities.
The likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, maybe a player like that will thrive from it, take charge and come out of their shell.
Still, Arsenal should work to bring one of them aboard this offseason. Jones would likely be the first choice for the Gunners given the option based on his youth and overall consistency, but either player would be a worthy replacement for Vermaelen.
Sami Khedira, Real Madrid
Real Madrid have been extremely aggressive this summer by bringing in James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, but these moves create a bit of a logjam in the midfield. World-class players such as Sami Khedira will not want to see their playing time decrease if they can transfer instead.
According to Kevin Palmer of the Sunday World, Arsenal are once more pursuing a move for Khedira:
Arsenal's move for Sami Khedira reported to be back on following the Rodriguez transfer. Surprised Wenger wants another midfielder #AFC— Kevin Palmer (@kpsundayworld) July 23, 2014
Ben Burrows of the Mirror previously reported that while a deal between the clubs was finished, per Marca, the player's salary seemed to be the hold-up:
The German international is believed to be wanting in excess of £150,000-per-week at the Emirates, a figure that would make him the highest paid player at the club.
While that would seem a fairly large obstacle to overcome the paper suggest a deal could be close.
Even with this steep price, it would be a worthwhile move for Arsenal. The 27-year-old midfielder missed most of last season with a knee injury but was present for the Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid. He was then key in Germany's run to the World Cup title.
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead discussed how well Khedira performed in Brazil before missing the final match with an injury:
Sami Khedira had such a good Tourney he'd probably just miss being named to the World Cup best XI. His replacement just got drilled.— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) July 13, 2014
Even though Arsenal already have a number of midfielders on the roster, Khedira is someone who brings a lot of versatility. He can line up in either an attacking position or further back as a holding midfielder. Either way, he becomes a box-to-box presence who will improve the squad on both ends of the pitch.
The Gunners might be confident in Jack Wilshere, but he has been inconsistent throughout his career, and he could learn a lot from an experienced player such as Khedira. If Arsenal can complete a move for the German star, they should do it as soon as possible.
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