Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger still hasn't completed his summer revamp of last season's fourth-placed squad. Despite already adding a quartet of new signings at a cost of £56 million, Wenger is chasing a fifth transfer deal for Atletico Madrid's utility defender Toby Alderweireld.
The Gunners chief is also wisely contemplating offloading misfiring forward Lukas Podolski. The Germany international has failed to display any consistency since moving to North London in the summer of 2012.
Here's the latest news on Alderweireld and Podolski:
Gunners Ready to Bid for Alderweireld
Wenger is ready to make a savvy bid for Belgium international Alderweireld, according to a report in the Daily Star:
Sources in Belgium claim Atletico left him out of their recent squad that faced City rivals Real Madrid for the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa match which ended in a 1-1 draw because they suspect he is about to leave.
He also doesn't figure in the future plans of manager Diego Simeone's and Atletico want around £6million for him.
That's a bargain fee for a defender as comfortable on the ball and versatile as Alderweireld. The 25-year-old received his football education at Ajax before moving to the Spanish capital last summer.
During his time with the Dutch club, Alderweireld became composed in possession. He also spent time at both centre-back and defensive midfielder.
Fortunately, those are two positions where Wenger's squad needs additional cover. The central defensive berths are set with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as the likely starting pair.
That leaves promising youngster Calum Chambers, signed from Southampton in a £16 million deal, the only obvious reserve. The 19-year-old has been mostly solid so far this season as Wenger works to get both Mertesacker and Koscielny fully fit.
However, this squad will certainly be stronger if it can boast four starting-quality central defenders. Alderweireld would certainly complete the numbers in that area.
He would also offer better quality in reserve behind nominal holding midfield players Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. Both are ageing and don't always fit the mold at the position.
To make matters worse, 32-year-old Arteta is currently sidelined with a sprained ankle expected to keep him out for a minimum of two weeks, per Dominic Fifield of The Guardian.
Alderweireld's presence would be a major boost for this squad. But signing him will surely depend on Wenger convincing him to accept a squad role.
That's what the player has had with Atletico and it clearly hasn't taken. It's difficult to believe he would swap one bench to go and warm another.
However, that hasn't stopped this rumour from gathering momentum. In a report for the Sunday edition of the Star, John Toner has suggested the ex-Ajax man is one of three targets Wenger is keen to sign:
The Arsenal boss has a long term interest in Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira which has been reignited since the German was left out of the Real squad for their Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid.
He and fellow exile Angel Di Maria were both seriously unhappy about being left out with Khedira jetting off to Leipzig as a result.
Also on the Arsene radar is Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld.
Another player in contention for a move to north London is PSG's teenage midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
Khedira's exit has since been ruled out by Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, per BBC Sport. But Wenger obviously has a real chance of landing Alderweireld, provided his powers of persuasion don't fail him.
It's a move the Gunners boss should make.
Podolski Nearing Juventus Move
Thankfully, Wenger is smartly working to rid himself of Podolski. The German forward is nearing a move to Serie A powerhouse Juventus.
But Arsene Wenger is set to lose World Cup winning striker Lukas Podolski, who is set to join Juventus on an initial season’s loan.
Podolski, meanwhile, is set to join Juventus after pulling out of the squad for yesterday evening’s clash with Everton at Goodison.
German Podolski has found himself as the Gunners’ fifth choice striker – behind new signing Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell.
Juventus are planning a season-long loan with a view to buying him next summer for £10million – with Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkeusen also interested.
As Read correctly points out, there is little need for Podolski following the arrival of Sanchez and the return of Campbell. It simply hasn't worked out for Arsenal and Podolski.
The crafty left-sided attacker has never managed to produce a long run of solid form. His best moments with the Gunners have instead come sporadically.
It's a shame because Podolski remains a superb finisher. However, he offers little defensive cover from the left flank or enough urgency linking with others in forward areas.
As for his efforts playing through the middle, they have been tepid at best. The 29-year-old has not displayed the movement of a natural striker.
Sky Italia (h/t InsideFutbol.com) is now reporting further developments in the deal:
According to Sky Italia, the Germany international has already reached an agreement with Juventus on his personal terms.
Now the Bianconeri will contract Arsenal tomorrow to try to push a switch through before the transfer window shuts.
Wenger can afford to let Podolski walk. If the Arsenal chief can convince a suitor to pay £10 million next summer, as Read suggested, he shouldn't hesitate to accept it.
Whether he's right or not, Wenger seems to think only minor tinkering is all that's left to prepare his squad for a sustained assault on this season's Premier League title.
Thinning the crowd up front, while bolstering the numbers at the back, are both smart moves. However, many fans and pundits would likely have more faith in Arsenal's title credentials if another marquee signing was added before the window closes.
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