Walter Kannemann's Agent Says 'There's Nothing Concrete' Amid Arsenal Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2019

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - MAY 5: Walter Kannemann of Gremio during the match between Gremio and Fluminense, as part of  Brasileirao Series A 2019, at Arena do Gremio on May 5, 2019, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images)
Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

Arsenal's search to sign a new centre-back this summer may not include Gremio's Walter Kannemann after the Argentina international's agent played down suggestions the Gunners have made a bid.

Speaking to Tunapora (h/t Football.London's Kris Heneage), Martin Wainbuch said: "Now there's nothing concrete."

Gremio manager Renato Portaluppi echoed Wainbuch's words, saying: "Until concrete proposals have been reached, there's no use in coming forward."

The stance of the player's club and representative goes against recent reports Arsenal are ready to put cash on the table. On Friday, Fox Sports Argentina (h/t Metro) reported the Gunners were ready to offer as much as £11.5 million for the defender, who has a release clause in his Gremio contract worth £17 million.

Kannemann's agent has played down reports of Arsenal's interest.
Kannemann's agent has played down reports of Arsenal's interest.TF-Images/Getty Images

Whatever the state of play with Kannemann, Arsenal's need for a new centre-back remains one of the top priorities facing head coach Unai Emery this summer. The Spaniard needs to fortify a back line suspect all season thanks to age and a penchant for costly mistakes.

Laurent Koscielny remains the most reliable centre-back at Emery's disposal, but he's also 33 and has struggled with Achilles injuries in recent seasons. Meanwhile, Sokratis Papastathopoulos made a positive impact after signing from Borussia Dortmund last summer, but the 30-year-old lacks pace.

Shkodran Mustafi is the most obvious candidate to be moved on after another campaign littered with errors. He made three during a 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace in April that helped condemn the Gunners to missing out on a place in the Premier League's top four for a third season running:

Sam Dean @SamJDean

Mustafi's having one. Arsenal had all the momentum but they're never going to be safe when Zaha is hovering around Mustafi.

James Dodd @JamesDoddFOX

It’s some accolade to be a club’s worst ever signing, especially at a big club like Arsenal, but Shkodran Mustafi has to be in the reckoning for that title. Abysmal piece of business for a woeful player. Doesn’t even acknowledge his own mistakes! #AFC

Mustafi could finally move on, with rumours Serie A outfit AC Milan are keen, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t FourFourTwo). Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis was at Arsenal when Mustafi moved to north London from Valencia for £35 million in 2016.

Emery's predecessor, Arsene Wenger, was said to have "doubts" about Mustafi, but Gazidis "played a more significant role than usual" in the signing, according to James Benge of Football.London.

Whether Mustafi stays or goes, the Gunners can't ignore the need to improve talent at the back. BBC Sport's David Ornstein has reported how "a central defender and box-to-box midfielder" are top of the club's list for the upcoming transfer window.

Getafe's Togo international Djene Dakonam is another defender thought to be on the radar, according to Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph:

Jeremy Wilson @JWTelegraph

As an aside on Getafe, was told that Unai Emery has been to a few recent games and presumed to be interested in their centre-back Djene Dakonam

Where Kannemann figures into the thinking remains unclear, although the possible appointment of a technical director could help provide answers. Former midfielder Edu Gaspar is tipped to return to Arsenal following his work with the Brazil national team during this summer's Copa America, per Goal's Charles Watts.

Edu's potential arrival could see Arsenal scour the South American market for transfer targets more often. Such an approach would make Kannemann an attractive target.