Arsenal have wrapped up their first signing of the January transfer window, but there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before they can welcome their second. The club confirmed on Wednesday that a long-anticipated deal to bring 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw had been wrapped up for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of 3 million euros (£2.4 million).
It is in defense where manager Arsene Wenger has repeatedly said the team’s transfer priorities lie, however. Yet getting in the right target to boost a squad weakened by a recent injury to Mathieu Debuchy continues to prove problematic.
Wenger’s current first-choice target would appear to be Villarreal’s Gabriel Paulista, with rumors strengthening in recent days linking the Brazilian to the Emirates. Gabriel recently revealed that talks had been undertaken with his agent, and his manager now, too, has suggested that there has been an approach. However, Marcelino’s words suggest Villarreal won’t be allowing the 24-year-old, who has impressed at the heart of the Spanish side’s defense this season and has been in action in the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, to leave for less than his 20 million euros (£15 million) buy-out clause,
“On a sporting level I would prefer him to stay, but you must look at what the player thinks and what is the possible offer, which might be impossible for the club to turn down,” he said, reports ESPN.
According to The Guardian, the clubs remain some way apart in their valuation of the player, with Arsenal currently offering an initial £6 million with a further £4 million on add-ons. One way the difference could be breached is by offering Joel Campbell as part of the deal. Villarreal are keen on the Costa Rica forward, reports Spanish publication Marca, however Wenger may be less enthusiastic after already allowing forwards Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo to go out on loan this month.
Campbell only made his competitive debut for Arsenal earlier this season having spent three years on loan after failing to be granted a work permit in England. And even if Arsenal can come to an agreement over the signing of Gabriel, Arsenal could face similar work-permit issues. With the player having yet to make a senior appearance for Brazil, Arsenal would have to go through an appeals process.
Arsenal have also been linked to Ipswich Town’s 21-year-old defender Tyrone Mings, who Wenger has previously revealed the Gunners were monitoring. While Ipswich have insisted he won’t be going anywhere in the January transfer window, the Daily Mirror has reported that Newcastle United are now pushing to try and seal a transfer for Mings this month to prevent competition from the likes of Arsenal in the summer.
The Daily Star has suggested that Arsenal could soon be providing Newcastle with a boost to their coffers by launching a £9 million bid for their defensive midfielder Cheick Tiote. The 28-year-old has frequently been linked to Arsenal over the years, but a move appears particularly unlikely this month with the Ivory Coast international currently in action at the African Cup of Nations.
Tiote is not the only midfielder linked with Arsenal in recent days. Last summer’s rumors of interest in Manchester City’s James Milner have resurfaced, with the Daily Mail reporting that both the Gunners and Liverpool are continuing to keep a close eye on his contract situation. Milner, who was taken off at halftime in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over City on Sunday, has entered the final six months of his deal at the Etihad Stadium. While City manager Manuel Pellegrini has repeatedly spoken of his confidence that the versatile England international will extend his contract, it is said that Milner has yet to be convinced that he will get the amount of first-team action he is after.