Arsenal have completed their first transfer of the summer, and it is one that will get fans eagerly awaiting the start of the new Premier League season. On Thursday, the club confirmed that a deal had been agreed to bring Chilean star Alexis Sánchez from Barcelona. The transfer, which is expected to cost Arsenal around £30 million, is a huge coup for Arsène Wenger, with the 25-year-old having been the subject of interest from Liverpool and Italian champions Juventus.
Sánchez joined Barcelona from Udinese for around £23 million three years ago, but struggled to become a truly integral part of the side, despite scoring 19 league goals last season. He showed that he is a player of true world-class ability during this summer’s World Cup when helping Chile to the Round of 16, where he scored against hosts Brazil. The deal to bring him to the Emirates makes him Arsenal’s second most-expensive signing ever, following the arrival of Mesut Özil for £42.5 million last year. And Arsenal fans will hope that it signals a continued change of direction from the incredibly circumspect dealings of the past. The club has not been shy in claiming that enhanced revenue from endorsement contracts will allow Arsenal to now compete with the big clubs in the transfer market, and the signing of Sánchez is certainly impressive evidence of that point.
Arsenal’s spending is unlikely to end there. The capture of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United as a replacement for Bacary Sagna is expected to be finalized in the coming days for between £10 million and £11 million. Sagna has just left to join Manchester City at the expiration of his contract, leaving a void that the man who kept him out of the France team, Debuchy, now looks set to fill.
Looking to build on a season that ended with a first trophy in nine years, Wenger is also thought to be looking to improve his options in the defensive midfield slot. Having had a £19 million rejected for him last summer, Arsenal will now return to try and prize Lars Bender away from Bayer Leverkusen, according to The Daily Telegraph. The 25-year-old, brother of Borussia Dortmund’s Sven, was forced to withdraw from Germany’s World Cup squad through injury.
It would be something of surprise were a deal to be struck. With a contract until 2019, Bender revealed earlier this summer that his desire was to stay at Leverkusen for the foreseeable future. If a transfer again fails to materialize, then it appears that Wenger will ramp up his pursuit of Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin. French publication L’Equipe believes that the consistent midfielder is being targeted by Arsenal, along with Liverpool, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund. Schneiderlin was a surprise inclusion in France’s World Cup squad, but started in the group-stage match with Ecuador.
Even with Sanchez’s arrival, Wenger is expected to try and further bolster a strike force that was woefully undermanned last season. Loic Remy has been suggested as a target for months, and was even spotted in the stands at the Emirates Stadium toward the end of last season. The Daily Mirror recently reported that Arsenal have begun talks with Queens Park Rangers over an £8 million switch. Remy, another member of France’s squad at the 2014 World Cup, scored 14 Premier League goals on loan at Newcastle United last season.