Arsenal Transfer News: Per Mertesacker Loan Considered, Latest Gunners Rumours

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2017

Arsenal's German defender Per Mertesacker runs during a training session at the club's complex in London Colney on December 5, 2016. 
Arsenal play FC Basel in a UEFA Champions League Group A match tomorrow. / AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS        (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal are weighing up the decision to let Per Mertesacker head out on loan this winter in order for him to earn a new contract. 

That's according to The Times' Matt Hughes (h/t Metro's Chris Davie), who reported the former Germany international's current deal ends in June, but it's unlikely he will have many opportunities to get on the pitch between now and then at the Emirates Stadium.

As such, the Gunners could be set to let him show his worth while on loan, provided they can find a team from abroad who will take him—they are unwilling to let him join another side in the English top flight.

A knee injury suffered during pre-season and a calf problem upon his return to training have prevented Mertesacker from playing a single minute this season, and he may yet be out for several more weeks.

In his absence, Shkodran Mustafi has established a successful partnership with Laurent Koscielny, as demonstrated by Squawka Football:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Shkodran Mustafi has never lost a game as an Arsenal player: WDWWWWWWDWWDDDWWWDW Games: 19 Goals conceded: 19 Clean sheets: 5 https://t.co/AnjAggEdn3

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Mertesacker's return to fitness will not unseat either of the pair, and with the more mobile Gabriel Paulista and Rob Holding among manager Arsene Wenger's other centre-back options, the former Werder Bremen man will face stiff competition just to be their back-up.

However, Wenger has indicated to Arsenal's official website that the 32-year-old has little to prove and will likely receive an extension to his contract regardless, per Goal's Stefan Coerts:

[Santi] Cazorla and Mertesacker's contract renewal does not depend on their fitness.

We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it.

We want to keep them for their qualities as football players firstly but as well for their mental guidance. We need to have a balance between youth and experience. They are important in that.

Based on the Frenchman's comments, it seems unlikely a loan move away will be forthcoming—particularly one to prove his form or fitness.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Meanwhile, according to El Grafico Chile (h/t Metro's Coral Barry), Atletico Madrid have made Alexis Sanchez their primary target to replace Antoine Griezmann if he leaves the club in the summer.

The 28-year-old has been the Gunners' best player this season and racked up an impressive 15 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

Arsenal shared the highlights of his sublime hat-trick against West Ham United in December:

Arsenal FC @Arsenal

⚽⚽⚽ As you've named him your #VitalityUK Player of the Month, let's take a look back at @Alexis_Sanchez at his very best... https://t.co/mvFtkSz05Z

Henry Winter of The Times believes the Chilean is crucial to Arsenal's ambitions:

Henry Winter @henrywinter

#afc need more like Alexis Sanchez who hurt at dropped points. Runner-up culture under Wenger doesn’t sit well with a winner like Sanchez.

ESPN FC's Mattias Karen has also hailed the former Barcelona star's attitude and commitment:

Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren

Sanchez still has plenty of energy thoguh, enough to chase down Zaha and make a great sliding tackle outside his own box. #AFCvCPFC

Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren

Up 2-0 in injury time, Sanchez sprints to corner flag to get off a quick corner. Never satisfied. #AFCvCPFC

Such qualities would see him fit in well with Diego Simeone's relentless side, and he's among the relatively small number of forwards who could adequately replace Griezmann's contributions in front of goal.

If Arsenal aspire to regaining the Premier League title, they cannot afford to lose Sanchez at any cost both for his ability on the pitch and his winning mentality.

Sanchez has 18 months left on his deal at the Emirates, but Wenger is confident a new contract will be signed sooner rather than later, according to BarryUntil he does, speculation over the player's future will continue to be rife.

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