Deeney was speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT, and when he was quizzed about the rumours—while not denying there was interest from the Gunners—he was adamant there was a lot of work to be done with the Hornets yet:
No, no, no. We have still got a project to complete.
The pleasing thing from my point of view and from Iggy's is people want us. That shows that we have been doing something right for the past five, six months.
But we have got a project to complete and the gaffer has stated before that whatever happens in the summer, will happen in the summer.
It is very flattering. My son is an Arsenal fan so he read it in the paper the other day and I don’t think he is happy that I am staying at Watford. He doesn’t understand that it is not FIFA and you can’t change the same day!
Those sentiments were backed up by Deeney’s manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, who claimed it is “completely impossible” that the captain would leave the club in January, per Darren Witcoop of the Daily Express.
When rumours did begin to surface about possible interest from Arsenal, there were eyebrows raised.
Deeney has been a handful throughout his career, and he has adapted very well to life in the Premier League after a tough start, providing a fine foil for the effervescent talents of his strike partner.
As WhoScored.com noted recently, the Hornets star is also a difficult player to get the best of in aerial battles:
But he doesn’t really possess the technical qualities a manager like Arsene Wenger would look for in a centre-forward. Even his main target man Olivier Giroud has a brilliant touch and wonderful awareness. For all of Deeney’s talents, that’s a part of his game he does need to improve if he’s to be considered a top class centre-forward.
The style of Watford is more suited to Deeney than Arsenal’s, too. The Hornets man relishes a physical battle and is at his best when the ball is moved quickly from back to front—as has been the case for his team so far this term. By contrast, the Gunners are meticulous and intricate in their build-up play.
With that in mind, a player who can stretch teams may be ideal for Arsenal up front, which is why it’s no surprise to see continued links to Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Here’s the kind of quality he would bring to the Emirates Stadium:
According to Spanish reporter Kike Marin—the first journalist to break the news of Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to Arsenal, according to Jamie Sanderson of Metro—the Gunners have made a whopping €60 million (£44 million) bid for the Gabon international, who has been in magnificent form at the Westfalenstadion so far this season.
Still, even if Arsenal have made a bid, there’s little chance of a move materialising in January, according to German football expert Alex Chaffer:
Highly unlikely that Aubameyang will leave Borussia Dortmund this month. Still unlikely in the summer. Spain is his next preferred venture.— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) January 5, 2016
The other standout area of the Arsenal team that could do with some improvement is at the base of the midfield, so it’ll please Gunners fans to hear the father and agent of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Granit Xhaka has revealed there is a chance he could be on the move soon.
“At the moment I prefer not to say too much," Ragip Xhaka said, per the Daily Telegraph. "We’ll see what happens. I can say that several big clubs are interested. Everything is possible, we’re not ruling anything out.”
While Xhaka is a tremendous talent and a forceful midfield presence, he can overstep the line at times, as OptaFranz noted recently:
5 - Granit Xhaka is the youngest player ever to concede 5 Red Cards in the Bundesliga (23 years, 2 months, 23 days). Blackout.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 20, 2015
For Arsenal supporters, it’ll be encouraging to see these types of players linked. The flaws in this team are so obvious yet have been unaddressed for so long, and if Wenger can get one of these players through the door at the Emirates, the Gunners would receive a major boost in pursuit of an overdue Premier League title.
Sadly for Arsenal, all three players are critical cogs in their respective sides. So unless the Gunners are willing to meet an inflated asking price, Deeney, Aubameyang and Xhaka will not be heading to north London.