Arsene Wenger may need to act quickly if he wishes to sign Real Madrid's Sami Khedira, as Bayern Munich are reportedly ready to offer the German midfielder a bumper contract.
Marca's Ruben Jimenez reports "quiet words" between Bayern and Khedira, while Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express details a cunning plan, which would see Bayern snatch the player for free by offering him lucrative terms in 2015:
Reports in Spain suggest that Bayern are willing to give Khedira the contract he wants in a year's time if they don't have to pay a transfer fee to land him.
This would only be possible if Khedira's current contract is allowed to roll until its end on July 30, 2015, as per Transfermarkt. Arsenal initially appeared in poll position to strengthen with the midfielder's capture but are widely said to have balked at his initial wage demands.
Metro reports Khedira has lowered his expectations to around £134,000 per week, making him an attractive prospect to Bayern if a huge fee isn't needed.
Real Madrid may be counting on the player's sale after signing James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, with the spectre of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules continuing to lurk around the club's activity. If this is the case, it seems the Gunners may still hold the trump card.
A concrete bid from any club this summer would likely kick-start the saga toward a bidding war, such is Khedira's quality.
Arsenal have already reinforced the signing of right-back Mathieu Debuchy with Calum Chambers' arrival from Southampton.
The youngster was seen training in a No. 5 branded kit, Thomas Vermaelen's squad number at the club, fuelling rumours the Belgian will head to either Manchester United or Barcelona this summer, as per the Daily Mail's Paul Collins.
Despite being the club captain, Vermaelen has struggled to hold down a regular starting place across the last two years. The partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker continues to improve for Arsenal and has been Wenger's preferred line-up since the final stretch of the 2012-13 season.
While Arsenal fans "would prefer to see him move abroad than continue to play in England with a rival," according to Lee Hurley of Metro, Vermaelen can provide vital services at either of his potential destinations. The centre-back, who is also used to filling in at left-back, has the quality to be a key part of United's or Barca's revival, after both suffered disappointing 13-14 campaigns.
Vermaelen has decent pace, is a rabid tackler and is comfortable in the air. He has the capacity to be one of European football's top defenders when fully fit and afforded a run in the first team. A new beginning could act as a catalyst for the player's consistency to return.
Arsenal can comfortably deal with such an exit if Wenger continues to hunt down defensive reinforcements.
The Frenchman should seriously consider Khedira's transfer, however, as the north London club are currently short of midfield destroyers. They are crying out for a physical presence to break play up in the centre, something Khedira can provide.
Bayern have already captured Robert Lewandowski on a free and shouldn't be ruled out when hatching their reported plan. It's an ambitious, yet totally plausible ploy if Khedira doesn't move on this summer.
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