Arsenal's hopes of landing Granit Xhaka have hit a bump after it emerged the Gunners are way off Borussia Monchengladbach's valuation of the player. Plus, the north Londoners are reportedly hoping to hijack Manchester United's hunt to sign James Rodriguez.
Bundesliga expert Raphael Honigstein revealed on Thursday that Arsenal's offer for Xhaka was in fact "much lower" than Die Fohlen anticipated, but the Germans may simply be haggling for a higher sum:
Raphael Honigstein @honigstein
bit of a twist in the Xhaka story. official bid has now come in much lower than Gladbach expected after negotiations with 3rd parties.2016-5-19 13:20:09
Raphael Honigstein @honigstein
Wouldn't jump to conclusions. 3 possibilities: 1. AFC haggling. 2. intermediaries creative with figures 3. BMG putting out high numbers2016-5-19 13:27:54
Reports of Arsenal's move for the Switzerland international have intensified since the Premier League season came to its end, with manager Arsene Wenger now seeking ways to strengthen his crop ahead of next term.
Xhaka recently opened up about the possibility of a transfer to the Emirates Stadium. "Yesterday, the offer was officially confirmed. Today, nothing has changed," he told Swiss radio station FM1 (h/t James Gray of the Daily Express). "For me, it is important that there is a decision before the European Championship.”
Honigstein also noted that Xhaka's contract contains a €30 million (£23 million) release clause, but that stipulation doesn't kick in until next year.
According to German newspaper Bild (h/t Sport Witness), Arsenal offered just €25 million (£19.2 million) for Xhaka, but Gladbach are only looking to do business somewhere closer to €40 million (£30.7 million):
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Bild have found out Arsenal's Xhaka bid is just €25m. #AFC https://t.co/CVqQRHMl3J https://t.co/u6QymmYQ4L2016-5-19 13:31:44
Wenger has a serious need for new recruits in central midfield after allowing Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini to see out their contracts and leave the club this summer.
Xhaka—who already has 40 caps for Switzerland despite being just 23 years of age—appears aching to see the move materialise, but the question is whether Arsenal rate him highly enough to pay the full price.
The chase for Real Madrid's Rodriguez will be a tougher one, after Spanish daily Mundo Deportivo (h/t the Daily Star's Alex Harris) reported that Arsenal are ready to beat United to his £60 million signature.
According to South American football expert Carl Worswick, Rodriguez's decision to play at this summer's Copa America and not the 2016 Summer Olympics was fuelled by his desire to succeed with Los Blancos:
Carl Worswick @cworswick
James Rodriguez tells journalist @velezfutbol he'll play at the Copa America & not the Olympics this summer. His priority is staying at Real2016-5-18 14:44:47
That puts a potential obstacle in the Gunners' path as they hope to tempt a player who's eager to impress in his current setting, and Real sit as the bigger draw of the two.
Arsenal could free up some major funds if the Mirror's report (h/t Goal) that Alexis Sanchez could be sold proves genuine, potentially opening a spot for Rodriguez to make his arrival.