The opening of the transfer window is now just a month away, and pressure is increasing on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to be highly active in January. Wenger’s hesitance to add to his squad has been frequently criticized, not least after Arsenal became the only club in Europe’s major leagues not to sign a single outfield player this past summer. But the club’s recent injury crisis has only deepened the need for Arsenal to bolster his player pool next month.
Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City came at a much greater cost than just two dropped points. Alexis Sánchez, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny joined a lengthy injury list already featuring Francis Coquelin, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky.
Of all of them, the injury to Coquelin may well be the most significant. The Frenchman is set to miss three months, and he is the only high-quality defensive midfielder in Arsenal’s squad. It is on that basis that The Sun reports that the Gunners are willing to pay up to £22 million for Porto’s Ruben Neves. The 18-year-old has had a sensational start to his career, winning his first caps for Portugal this year and being named captain of his club team. His mix of technical quality and tenacity could certainly appeal to Wenger.
According to the report, Arsenal are ready to pay £12 million up front, with a further £10 million dependent on performance-related clauses. However, they are likely to face competition from the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Another midfielder is also reported to be in Arsenal’s thinking. Not for the first time, the Gunners have been linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot. According to the Independent, Arsenal are continuing to keep a close eye on the 20-year-old, with a view to making an approach in the January transfer window.
Rabiot is accomplished on the ball and a highly rated prospect, but his future has been called into question due to the difficulties of holding down a regular first-team place with the French champions. It is claimed that, should he be made available, Tottenham would also be keen to secure his signature.
The speculation involving Arsenal does not end there. With Koscielny now out and Calum Chambers having struggled to prove himself a reliable options as a center-back, it is rumored that Arsenal are eager to bolster the center of their defense. And the Daily Mirror reports that Arsenal will enter a high-priced bidding war for Everton’s John Stones. Chelsea had a bid of £30 million knocked back for the England international in the summer, despite Stones handing in a transfer request. With that in mind, it is very difficult to imagine Arsenal agreeing a fee that would persuade Everton to alter their stance, especially in mid-season.
Elsewhere, there continues to be speculation that Arsenal will seek to add to their attacking options, specifically with a transfer for Celta Vigo’s in-form forward Nolito. The 29-year-old has scored eight goals in 13 league matches this season in Spain. And the latest rumor linking him to Arsenal comes from Spanish website Fichajes, not exactly the most reliable outlet for transfer news, which claims there is a real possibility of him joining the Gunners in January. That seems a long shot, not only because he plays in same left-sided position as Sánchez , but because there is thought to be strong interest from Barcelona, where he spent three years earlier in his career. The Spain international also recently insisted he would remain with Celta Vigo at least until the end of the season.