Carlo Ancelotti has slapped a "not for sale" tag on Sami Khedira, effectively bringing an end to any speculation that the Real Madrid midfielder will be leaving the Spanish capital this summer.
There has been mass interest in the player, coming mainly from the Premier League's giants, but Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail quotes Ancelotti, who states his desire to see Khedira remain at the Bernabeu: "He’s not leaving, he’s a Real Madrid player. He has a contract until June 30, 2015 and that’s all there is to say."
Arsenal and Chelsea have each been heavily linked with Khedira in recent months. They watched the 27-year-old lift both the Champions League and 2014 World Cup trophies this year.
As Ancelotti states, his anchorman is contracted to Los Merengues until next summer, at which point he could leave Real for free.
According to Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express, Jose Mourinho has told his former charge that "there is a place for him" at Stamford Bridge when his deal expires, but interest is bound to be rife should he become available for nothing in 2015.
Khedira reportedly wants wages of £150,000 per week if he's to move this summer, which Spanish journalist Guillem Balague says has proven to be the main stumbling block preventing a move to Arsenal:
Khedira: Arsenal made no offer whatsover to Real. No wage agreement as he is far too expensive. He has no intention (as yet) to reduce wages— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 8, 2014
Ancelotti has brought in Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez as additional competition in central midfield, with Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and to a lesser extent Angel Di Maria also likely to contest for playing time in the middle.
The likes of Isco and Asier Illarramendi may also pose a challenge to Khedira's place in the squad, while fellow playmaker and former Sao Paulo starlet Casemiro has joined Porto on a season-long loan.
Defensive midfield has been viewed for some time as the area that Arsene Wenger must strengthen, with Mikel Arteta entering his twilight years and Mathieu Flamini's worth as an elite anchor still up for debate.
After signing Calum Chambers from Southampton for £16 million, the Frenchman was quoted by the Daily Express' David Wright last week, saying deep-lying midfield is one area he plans to use the full-back:
He has the qualities to impose himself in this part of the team [central defence], and I believe he can also play in defensive midfield. And that’s where I see him. He is 19 years of age so he maybe can't play every week, but he can play a major role.
From that, it wouldn't appear likely that Wenger intends to bring in another anchoring presence, with Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere also offering some worth in that sector.
Is Wenger right to trust his existing midfield options?
Before a transfer can materialise, Khedira may yet extend his deal in Madrid, with a long 10 months resting between now and the expiration date of his current contract.
It was thought that Alonso could leave the club on a free transfer this year, but the Spanish veteran signed a two-year extension in January, a move that Khedira may end up replicating.
Risky though it may be, the tactic perhaps indicates Real Madrid's intention to allow player contracts to run down further, thus saving themselves money before deciding to reward players.
This season will show exactly what kind of role Ancelotti has in mind for Khedira, but Arsenal and Chelsea need only know that it if looked like an unlikely deal before, it would seem impossible now.