Thomas Vermaelen’s departure to Barcelona earlier this month was a blow, but Arsenal figured they could get by and find a suitable replacement in the final days of the transfer session. Now the Gunners and manager Arsene Wenger have put their search into high gear following captain Mikel Arteta’s injury during Wednesday’s Champions League playoff against Besiktas. Arteta suffered a severe ankle sprain, and he’s expected to miss at least two weeks and likely won’t return until the international break next month. Aaron Ramsey is also suspended for the second leg against Besiktas, further depleting the midfield and backline.
The lack of depth early in the term has forced Wenger to start “fresh” talks with Olympiacos for defender Kostas Manolas, Goal reports. Negotiations reportedly began last week, and Manolas’s reps traveled to the UK to work out the deal. The Greek side are apparently willing to accept an offer lower than £8 million for the 23-year-old, and Wenger hopes he and Calum Chambers can provide assurances for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
Other interested parties include Manchester United and Serie A’s Juventus and Napoli, but it appears Arsenal have the inside track.
Wenger has also set his sights on West Ham defender Winston Reid, according to Daily Mirror. Known best of his strong tackling and concentration skills, the 26-year-old’s contract expires next summer and he’s open for a switch to Emirates. Still the report indicates no formal offer or “approach” has been made by Wenger.
As of now there appears to be little to no competition for Reid, but the Gunners face a standoff with Everton for the rights to Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot, Talk Sport reported earlier this week. A £5.6 million could come to fruition over the weekend but Everton manager Roberto Martinez has targeted PSG’s Clement Chantome, another integral part of the French side’s midfield.
Should the Gunners expedite their moves Rabiot, its likely PSG will opt to keep Chantome. At this point it could come down to which side decides to overpay for their favored player first.
Lastly, Arsenal and a slew of clubs have been told that goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is not for sale. Daily Mirror reports Stoke City manager Mark Hughes said a massive offer would be required to pry the Bosnian star away, essentially sinking the Gunners hopes, as well as Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid.