With less than two weeks until the deadline, Arsenal Wenger has said that, for him, the transfer window really starts now. The Gunners enjoyed a morale-boosting 3-0 win against Fenerbahce in Istanbul on Wednesday; a result that all-but ensures them a crucial place in the Champions League group stage for the 16th consecutive season.
Yet, Arsenal have a desperately thin squad, created by a host of summer departures and with just France Under-20 striker Yaya Sanogo having arrived on a free transfer. Injuries have also not helped. Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen remain on the sidelines, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be out for several months. In Turkey, Laurent Koscielny was forced off with a nasty gash to his face.
Rather than looking to bring in the top-level quality to improve the side that many Arsenal fans have clamored for this season, Wenger has claimed that it is only depth he needs to add to his squad.
“Quality-wise we don’t need anybody but number-wise we are short as I told you yesterday,” he said after Wednesday’s win. “We lost Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta and [Abou] Diaby -- three international midfielders. That is why we are short. We tried to bring one in but we are working on that.
“You have to understand there is still a long way to go. The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and September 2. From August 21 until September 2 you have 12 days, so a lot will happen. It starts now.”
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It had been reported that Arsenal were set to bid £20 million for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. Such a deal always looked implausible given the 20-year-old France international’s potential and value to the Italian champions. There is little surprise that Juventus have now confirmed that any move for Pogba would be a waste of time.
"Forget about Pogba," Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta told Tuttosport."We do not have the slightest intention of listening to any offer which may arrive for our midfielder."
That rejection combined with previous failed moves for Luiz Gustavo and Lars Bender could lead Wenger to welcoming back a familiar face. Mathieu Flamini, who played for the Gunners between 2004 and 2008, has been training with Arsenal for the past two weeks to maintain fitness after leaving Milan at the end of his contract this summer. The Times reports that the 29-year-old’s wage demands of £75,000 a week has deterred other Premier League suitors, but Wenger is now considering signing up the France international who once formed an impressive midfield partnership at Arsenal with Cesc Fabregas.
According to BBC Sport, Arsenal also have more ambitious plans in the remaining days of the transfer window. The website believes that Arsenal are actively pursuing deals to bring Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria to the Emirates.
Arsenal, of course, have already made a failed pursuit for one Real Madrid striker this summer in Gonzalo Higuain. Now, it is thought that they are willing to spend £40 million to secure 25-year-old Benzema. Having sold Higuain -- to Napoli -- is it difficult to envisage Madrid being prepared to part with the France international unless a replacement is first attained.
Di Maria looks to be more readily attainable. With the arrival of Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu seemingly now imminent, the Argentinian winger’s role is set to be greatly diminished. Even without Bale, the 25-year-old was not included in Madrid’s starting lineup for the first match of their La Liga season on Sunday.