After finally bringing an end to Arsenal’s trophy drought with victory in Saturday’s thrilling FA Cup final, Arsene Wenger will be keen to ensure the club builds on that success next season. Yet he could immediately be faced with losing a key member of his cup-winning team.
Bacary Sagna’s future increasingly looks to be away from the Emirates Stadium, with the right-back’s contract set to expire in just over a month’s time. Speaking after the Wembley win, Sagna, 32, claimed he had yet to make a decision over what happens next.
“Will it be my last game for Arsenal? I don't know,” he told The Sun. “Everyone knows I am out of contract and we have not found an agreement with Arsenal.”
The Daily Mail, however, has reported that Sagna’s decision is all-but made up and that he will become the latest Arsenal player to head north to Manchester City. The tabloid’s story claims that Sagna was due in Manchester for talks on Monday and was expected to sign a three-year deal worth £150,000 a week, significantly more than what Arsenal had put on the table. That would be an extraordinary financial commitment for City given their recent punishment for falling foul of Financial Fair Play and the fact that they already have one of the Premier League’s best right-backs in Pablo Zabaleta.
Still, it would appear that Sagna’s future lies elsewhere, meaning that Wenger will need to find a replacement to vie with Carl Jenkinson for the right-back spot. The man most widely linked with filling that role in recent months has been Toulouse’s Serge Aurier. And speaking in recent days, the Ivory Coast international has admitted it would be hard to turn down a move to Arsenal.
“I’ve never prioritized one club in England, because even the promoted ones are respectable,” the 21-year-old told Eurosport France. “I prefer the one that shows me the most respect and who guarantees me playing time. After that, you can’t really say ‘no’ to Arsenal. It’s a club that has history, which has had many French players and has a French Coach. And Arsenal are always competing for titles and playing in the Champions League.”
Arsenal could also respond to City’s potential capture of Sagna by trying to prize away their midfielder James Milner. The England international is thought to be seeking a move away against the club’s wishes in order to secure more regular first-team action. And The Guardian has reported that Arsenal are keen on Milner and are prepared to offer £10 million. Although Milner has more regularly been used out wide by both club and country, it is believed that he favors a central role and that Arsenal are happy to grant him that wish. The 28-year-old could be an alternative to Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
Along with a central midfielder, one of Wenger’s priorities will surely be to add a quality forward to his squad. While Bayern Munich’s unsettled front man Mario Mandzukic has been strongly linked, the Daily Mirror has reported that Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony is now a target. After signing for £12 million from Vitesse Arnhem last summer, the Ivory Coast international scored 16 Premier League goals and 24 in all competitions. He would doubtless be difficult to prize away from the Welsh club, while the Sunday People has also reported that he is a £20 million target for Liverpool.
There also continues to be speculation linking Arsenal with a move for another Ivorian forward, Salomon Kalou. Arsenal failed with a bid to take the former Chelsea man on loan from Lille in January. Sky Sports suggests that Kalou is keen on a permanent return to the Premier League and that Arsenal remain interested in a player who scored 16 goals in Ligue 1 this season.