The January transfer window is set to open on Saturday for Premier League teams, and if the latest rumours are to be believed, Arsenal will be among the most active clubs from the get go.
The Gunners sit just outside of the Champions League spots in the Premier League standings and could use some help to improve in 2015, but it appears a longtime contributor could leave the club before new forces arrive.
Here are the latest rumours emerging from the Emirates Stadium.
Lukas Podolski Nearing January Exit
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Lukas Podolski arrived in Italy to complete a loan move to Inter Milan on Friday:
The respected journalist provided more info via his website, with David Amoyal providing the translation:
Lukas Podolski is set to join Inter after the Italian club reached an agreement with Arsenal. The German striker will join the Italian club on a straight loan (no option to buy) for rest of the season, they will pay the Gunners 600,000 euro which will go up to 850/900 thousand euro should Inter qualify for next season's Champions League.
The 29-year-old forward has hardly featured for the Gunners in 2014-15 and has spent the past few months mainly lobbying for more playing time, without any success. Inter openly declared their interest in his services in December, but Arsene Wenger called their interest "a joke:"
Those words likely didn't sit well with Podolski, who reportedly stormed out of the training ground on New Year's Eve and didn't join his team-mates on the trip to Southampton, via the Mirror's John Cross.
Podolski's departure likely means Wenger will either look to bring in another forward in January, or it could give an opportunity to youngsters Chuba Akpom and Joel Campbell. The latter still hasn't featured much after his 2014 World Cup success, and fans must be anxious to find out what the future has in store for him.
Dani Alves Rules Out January Move
Barcelona full-back Dani Alves will be a free agent this summer and has been linked with a move to the Premier League for the past six months, but per Metro's Hannah Duncan, he intends to play out his contract before making a decision on his future:
"I’m not interested in negotiating an exit. I’m going to end my contract and then we will see," he said.
The Brazil international will turn 32 in 2015 but is still the Catalans' choice right-back, and with the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholding Barcelona's transfer ban for the coming year, the Blaugrana are likely to extend the contract of their long-term starter.
As of right now, that's yet to happen, per Sky Sports' Pete O'Rourke
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Alves, but one has to wonder how the move would make sense, from both perspectives. The Gunners aren't perennial contenders for silverware, something Alves has gotten used to with Barcelona and would likely desire should he leave Spain.
Likewise, Arsenal have a defensive need, but the right-back position is covered quite well. Bleacher Report's Ryan Bailey and Janusz Michallik recently broke down the team's needs, highlighting the central areas, not out wide:
Even if the Gunners are interested, a move is unlikely to transpire in January, with Alves ruling it out and Barcelona facing a ban that wouldn't allow them to seek a replacement.
Gunners Join Race for Loris Karius
Germany's next star goalkeeper Loris Karius has just six months left on his current contract, and according to the Mirror's James Nursey, Arsenal have joined a long list of clubs vying for his signature:
Arsenal are eyeing up top emerging German keeper Loris Karius.
The shot-stopper, 21, is the youngest keeper in the Bundesliga with Mainz.
Karius is now regarded as Germany's best player at the position after Bayern Munich’s World Cup winner Manuel Neuer.
The 6'3" ace has worked his way up through Germany’s age-groups to now represent the U21s, and Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Spanish side Valencia have all expressed an interest.
Nursey goes on to state the Gunners are willing to wait until summer to make a play for the 21-year-old, but the rest of the clubs may not be. Due to UEFA regulations, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 can't sign the youngster to a pre-contract, as they play in the same domestic competition as Mainz.
Casual fans may have never heard of Karius, but the Germany youth international has quickly risen to fame in the Bundesliga and is widely regarded as one of the best young stoppers in the world. He made Outside of the Boot's list of top young players in the world, the only goalkeeper to do so:
He was also the Bundesliga's most productive stopper in 2014, according to Bundesliga Vavel's Marco Conradie:
Karius turned down a move to Benfica in the summer, per Nursey, likely because he wanted to be an undisputed starter and play heavy minutes to continue his development.
This makes Arsenal an unlikely fit, with Wojciech Szczesny the clear-cut starter in north London. The Poland international is enjoying a solid season for the Gunners, and Wenger won't turn the starting position over to an unproven youngster.
If he's willing to back up Szczesny for now and earn the starting position, he could be a fantastic addition, either in January for a small fee or in the summer, for no fee at all. But as things stand, a move to a bigger Bundesliga club seems more likely.