Arsenal Transfer News: World-Class Stars Named in Arsene Wenger's Plans

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2014

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  Sami Khedira of Germany controls the ball past Aissa Mandi of Algeria during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Germany and Algeria at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 30, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A successful transfer period so far is apparently far from finished for Arsenal. Manager Arsene Wenger is still being linked with a move for Real Madrid's Germany international Sami Khedira.

The midfielder is a player who belongs in the world-class bracket when healthy and at his best. Khedira is the marquee name listed as part of Wenger's current plans, but there is also news on three other intriguing targets, including a possible medical for a coveted defender.

Here's a more in-depth look at the latest rumours, beginning with Khedira:

Khedira's Agent in London for Transfer Talks

Wenger's chances of signing Khedira appear to be increasing, at least according to a report from Mirror writer Tom Hopkinson. He has stated that the player's agent will hold London-based talks with Arsenal and local rival Chelsea:

Sami Khedira’s agents are due in London this week to talk over a move to either Stamford Bridge or The Emirates.

Arsenal and Chelsea have been monitoring the situation with Khedira for a while, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and his Blues counterpart Jose Mourinho – who worked with the player when he was in charge at Real – long-term admirers.

Hopkinson has named Mourinho as the favourite to complete a deal for the 27-year-old. However, Arsenal's more immediate need for the player is greater.

Wenger faces competition for Khedira from bitter rival Mourinho, but Bayern Munich are also lurking.
Wenger faces competition for Khedira from bitter rival Mourinho, but Bayern Munich are also lurking.Getty Images/Getty Images

Khedira has the power and drive the Gunners need more of in midfield. He can be an able supporting runner for the buccaneering raids of talisman Aaron Ramsey.

Khedia can also offer a more robust edge to Arsenal's attempts to scrap for possession and stymie opposition breaks. Aside from Ramsey, Wenger can't call on another complete midfielder.

That certainly makes Khedira a worthy target. However, wage demands have so far stalled this deal, and that is unlikely to change.

Mourinho isn't the only rival Wenger faces in his pursuit of the player. Catalan newspaper Sport (h/t Ben Green of 101 Great Goals), has reported that Bayern Munich and former FC Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola will make a move:

However, Sport reveal on Sunday that Bayern Munich are now set to move for Khedira, following the serious injury sustained by Javi Martinez last week.

Yesterday, Guardiola announced: 'We need a new player. He can play as a defender, midfielder, in various positions.'

The latest reports are also in conflict with news from Spain that Los Blancos gaffer Carlo Ancelotti is reluctant to sell. Ancelotti had this to say about Khedira and winger Angel Di Maria, per the English version of Marca:

They are Real Madrid players, I chose other players for the Super Cup because they arrived on the 5th August and only Kroos played that match. Today's game will be good for them to play some minutes and improve their fitness.

Of course, this might be a case of Real playing hardball in an attempt to drive up the cost of parting with an asset like Khedira. The Gunners have recent experience of how difficult Madrid can be in negotiations.

That lesson was learned the hard way last summer, during the botched proposed deal for striker Gonzalo Higuain. Wenger also knows that Madrid usually secure a favourable fee when they make a sale. The Arsenal chief paid £42.5 million for Mesut Ozil on the final day of last summer's window.

Gunners Still Interested in Eduardo Vargas

Rumours of Arsenal's interest in Eduardo Vargas aren't going away. Daily Mail writer Simon Jones is the latest to suggest the Gunners remain keen: "QPR have also joined Arsenal by showing an interest in Napoli's Chile international striker Eduardo Vargas."

Meanwhile, Daily Star reporter Bruce Archer cited unnamed reports in Italy claiming Arsenal face Spanish competition for the forward:

According to reports in Italy, the Gunners will have to fend off interest from Valencia to get their £9m man.

Vargas spent the second half of last season on loan at the Mestalla, scoring three times in 17 La Liga appearances, but Arsene Wenger is keen to seal his second Chilean of the window.

These reports come on the heels of a suggestion by Daily Express reporter Ben Jefferson that Arsenal want the Chilean international.

Vargas is actually a target who makes a lot of sense for Wenger's new-look Gunners. Adding pace in attack has been one of the priorities of this transfer window.

It's one Wenger satisfied when he snared Vargas' international team-mate Alexis Sanchez. However, Sanchez can't do it all alone.

He needs pace around him and a player on his particular wavelength. Vargas certainly fits the bill, having starred alongside Sanchez for Chile at the FIFA 2014 World Cup.

Vargas and Sanchez form a potent combination at international level.
Vargas and Sanchez form a potent combination at international level.Julian Finney/Getty Images

He also possesses the tactical flexibility Wenger covets. Vargas can play wide or through the middle. Pairing him and Sanchez together would encourage more rotation and fluidity in attacking areas.

It's clear Arsenal still have issues at striker. Wenger appears reluctant to put too much pressure on inconsistent target man Olivier Giroud. Young understudy Yaya Sanogo started both the FA Community Shield against Manchester City and the Premier League opener against Crystal Palace.

However, Giroud replaced him on both occasions. Neither Frenchman has looked especially impressive so far.

Vargas could be a very useful extra option at a key position.

Gunners Begin Talks with Young Star Adrien Rabiot

Wenger could soon add an exciting young talent to his already bloated midfield ranks. According to French station RMC (h/t Metro), Arsenal have been given permission to speak with Paris Saint-Germain's youthful pass-master, Adrien Rabiot:

Arsenal have been given permission to hold transfer talks with Adrien Rabiot by the midfielder’s club Paris Saint Germain.

Rabiot has been strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in the last few weeks, and is available for transfer after turning down a new contract at the end of last season.

PSG are resigned to him leaving this summer and have put a £5.6million (€7million) price tag on his head.

That's certainly a price worth paying for a talent as precocious as Rabiot. The 19-year-old can operate in a deep-lying midfield berth and act as a natural hub for possession.

The only question is can Wenger justify adding another young player who needs games to a position already brimming with options?

Wenger currently has Mikel Arteta, Ramsey and Jack Wilshere playing prominent roles in the middle. In truth, the latter is struggling, yet it's clear Wenger remains a fan.

The Gunners boss rushed to Wilshere's defence following the Palace game, after yet another feeble display, per writer Dom Farrell:

[Wilshere] was sick in the last few days and I felt he started to still miss some competitiveness," the Frenchman explained to reporters of the substitution.

I had options on the bench as well.

No, [the criticism is not fair]. Let's give him games.

For me the most important thing for him is not to have any problem with his ankle but it looks like he's on the right way on that front. He looks sharper every week at the moment.

If Wenger is insistent on getting Wilshere game time, he can hardly make room for Rabiot. That issue is compounded when considering the presence of players like Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby.

There's also promising young players like Gedion Zelalem to factor in. His development would certainly be stunted by Rabiot's arrival.

The veracity of this rumour will depend on just how highly Wenger rates Rabiot. Remember, Arteta (32), Rosicky (33) and Flamini (30), are all ageing. It won't be long before Wenger needs to refresh this position. Signing Rabiot could be the perfect start.

Kostas Manolas Reportedly Has Medical

Late on Saturday, writer William Joyce reported that Arsenal have accelerated attempts to sign Greek centre-back Kostas Manolas:

Olympiakos centre-back Kostas Manolas is undergoing a medical at Arsenal ahead of a move to the Gunners, Goal understands.

Manolas has attracted interest from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who is targeting a central defensive signing before the transfer window closes following the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona.

Arsenal are understood to have been quoted a transfer fee of £8 million for the centre-back.

That's a quick development in Wenger's bid to replace the departed Vermaelen. It would certainly be a positive move to secure additional central defensive cover.

So far, youngster Calum Chambers has been filling in for Germany international Per Mertesacker, who has been rested following the World Cup. Chambers, still only 19, has been impressive.

But the Gunners need more options behind Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Manolas has established himself well with Olympiakos. He's a rugged and combative defender but also one comfortable in possession.

Just as important, he has plenty of international and UEFA Champions League experience. The 23-year-old would represent a very credible deputy.

The latest Arsenal rumours see proposed world-class targets thin on the ground. The move for Khedira is the only rumour gathering pace in that regard, something evidenced by the other clubs in pursuit.

However, in Vargas, Rabiot and Manolas, Wenger is running the rule over a trio of solid talents capable of developing into future stars.


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