Arsenal face a battle if they are to pry striker Christian Benteke away from Aston Villa this summer, with the Midlands club intent on hanging on to their top scorer this season, according to the Guardian.
It is reported that Arsenal were interested in the Belgium international before he moved to Aston Villa from Genk for £7 million last summer and have continued to monitor his progress during the current campaign.
But, despite Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester City also hovering, Villa are thought to be determined to keep a hold of Benteke and will offer him a new contract featuring a significant wage increase.
Villa’s hopes of retaining the player, though, are predicated on the club maintaining their place in the Premier League. Despite the 22-year-old’s 18 league goals, including a hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Sunderland on Monday, Villa remain just five points clear of the relegation zone.
“There's no point in planning something and thinking it's going to grow and then all of a sudden they're not there," Villa manager Paul Lambert said, according to the Guardian. "I think that's where it becomes frustrating if you have to lose players you think you're trying to build a team around."
Arsenal could also look to boost their goal-scoring by bringing back their former forward Carlos Vela. After scoring 12 goals for Real Sociedad on loan last season, the Mexico international made the move from the Emirates permanent last summer and has gone on to find the net 13 times and help the club to the verge of sealing a place in next season’s Champions League.
His performances have led to speculation that Arsenal could activate a release clause in the 24-year-old’s contract to take him back to the club where he spent seven largely fruitless seasons involving numerous loan spells.
Vela, though, has revealed that moving back to Arsenal is currently far from his thoughts.
"Going back to Arsenal? It could happen at any moment, but I don't want to think about it," he said, according to Sky Sports.
"My life is at Real Sociedad, and it is with that shirt that I want to play in the Champions League next season.
With a new goalkeeper thought to be in manager Arsene Wenger’s plans this summer, Arsenal have again been linked to Queens Park Rangers stopper Julio Cesar. After his club’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday, the 33-year-old is expected to be a part of a mass exodus of highly paid players from Loftus Road.
A move back to Italy would appear to be most likely, with Milan and Roma thought to be interested, although the Daily Express claims that Arsenal and Liverpool are among the Premier League clubs eager to keep the Brazil international in England.
Julio Cesar’s agent Josias Cardoso claims that his client is yet to decide his future.
"Everything said on the player's future is absolutely premature, there is still nothing concrete," he told CalcioMercato.
"Julio wants a team that proves it has a focus on him, but anyone interested in him will have to talk first with QPR, because the contract with the London club expires in 2016. "In two weeks I should come to Europe to talk with Julio - but back to Brazil? I don't think so. If QPR were to decide to sell Julio Cesar, I still see a European future for him."
One player who is unlikely be heading to Arsenal anytime soon is Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler. Wenger is believed to be a fan of the Switzerland international, but his agent Dino Lamberti has said that the 28-year-old intends on staying in Naples.
“Despite the many requests for him, Gokhan wants to stay where he is,” he explained, according to TalkSport.
"There are a lot of clubs, very important ones of the highest level, who have told me that they are ready to sign him if he is unhappy in Naples. "But he wants to stay and he loves Napoli. He still hasn't shown his true value in Campania, but he is someone who always puts the side ahead of his personal glory."
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.