An announcement that Gabriel Paulsita has become Arsenal’s second signing of the January transfer window is set to arrive imminently, but it may not be Arsène Wenger’s last piece of business before next Monday’s deadline. Ahead of an agreement being struck with Villarreal for the Brazilian defender, Wenger revealed last week that he had not ruled out further adding to his squad this month.
Here are three players he may well look to target before time runs out in the current window:
Asier Illarramendi (Real Madrid)
For a long time Arsenal were linked with Brazilian holding midfielder Lucas Silva, but there was little surprise when he completed a transfer this week to Real Madrid. Yet, while they missed out on the former Cruzeiro man, his move may have opened up a new target for the Gunners, reports Spanish sports daily Marca. Silva’s arrival has raised serious questions about the future of current Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi.
A 30 million euros (£22.5 million) signing from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2013, Illarramendi has struggled to make an impression at the Bernabeu. Still, the 24-year-old has much to offer and his passing acumen makes him a natural fit for a Wenger side. However, he has notably struggled when put under pressure in the midfield, and Arsenal would appear in greater need of a more physically imposing presence. Arsenal could also find it difficult to bring Illarramendi to the Emirates Stadium, with Athletic Bilbao reportedly ready to pay 25 million euros (£18.7 million).
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
One current Premier League midfielder sticks out as being the ideal man to plug a hole that has existed in Arsenal’s midfield for so long. And it appears that Wenger has a similar view on the merits of Schneiderlin, with The Telegraph stating that the France international is his top target.
Schneiderlin has been a key part of Southampton’s rise in the past two years and is an exceptionally astute operator at the base of the midfield. Yet, while he made it known he wanted to be allowed to leave the club last summer, there looks little prospect of him moving this month. Riding high in third place in the Premier League, Southampton will not want to jeopardize a shot at Champions League qualification, while Schneiderlin appears content for the time being. While Wenger could make another approach before the deadline, he may ultimately decide to rely on the recently impressive Francis Coquelin to help the team muddle through before landing Schneiderlin in the summer.
Joao Pereira (Valencia)
It was an injury to Mathieu Debuchy that strengthened Wenger’s determination to secure defensive reinforcement this month, but even before that Arsenal were short in numbers. While the Gunners still have Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers to cover in Debuchy’s three-month absence, there are reports that a more experienced right-back option is being considered as a transfer target. It has become clear that Joao Pereira has no future at Valencia, having yet to make a single appearance for the Spanish club this season and with no plans to have his contract extended beyond the end of the season. There are reports the 30-year-old Portugal international could leave before then, though, and it’s conceivable that Wenger may see him as a bargain basement, short-term solution.