They may currently be heading into the new season with just one senior goalkeeper, but, if news reports are to be believed, Arsenal could soon have an overload of options between the sticks. Despite being thought to have already agreed a transfer for Colombian stopper David Ospina, strong rumors in Spain suggest that the Gunners are on the verge of welcoming Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas.
Having bid farewell to Lukasz Fabianski and Italian loanee Emiliano Viviano, there is no doubt that Arsène Wenger will be targeting support and perhaps competition for Wojciech Szczesny. But Opsina, who it has been widely reported is set to arrive for around £3 million from Nice, appeared set to fill that void. Instead, leading Spanish publications Sport and El Confidencial have both gone big on reports that Arsenal have proposed Spain’s No.1 a contract offer of €9 million (£7m) a year that has persuaded Casillas to come to the Emirates. The only barrier now is said to be whether Madrid will honor the claimed promise they made Casillas -- to allow him to leave on a free transfer. While Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Casillas will vie for Diego López for a starting role this season, the club are thought to be close to agreeing a deal for Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
It has been over 18 months since Casillas lost his place as first-choice goalkeeper at a club he has represented his whole career and for which he remains captain. The 33-year-old did start for Madrid in cup competitions last season, including the Champions League where he helped them to the trophy. Yet, while undeniably one of the best shot-stoppers of all time, Casillas’s lack of playing time has exacerbated what has always been the weakest part of his game: controlling his area. A mistake for Atletico Madrid’s opening goal in the Champions League final was followed by a horrendous World Cup as champions Spain exited at the group stage. Such performances may not have been reflective of Casillas’s ability once he gets regular game time under his belt, but the physical Premier League -- where crosses are more common than Spain -- would not appear the best fit for his abilities.
It is also a deal that would not fit at all with Wenger’s track record. Certainly if Arsenal were to commit such a sizable financial package on Casillas, it is unfathomable to think that he would not be the undisputed No. 1 at the Emirates.
Despite Arsenal already having spent £30 million on Chilean forward Alexis Sánchez, rumors refuse to die linking the club with a move for Milan striker Mario Balotelli. The latest comes from Italian publication Tuttosport, which claims that Milan have an interest in the Gunners’ Costa Rican attacker Joel Campbell that could lead to Balotelli moving in the opposite direction. Having been loaned out for the first three years of his Arsenal career, Campbell is set to be handed a chance in the first team this campaign following some impressive performances for Olympiakos last term and a fine World Cup. The idea of Balotelli being signed by a manger who has always eschewed signing hard to manage personalities has always looked extremely farfetched and with Sánchez on board that is now even more the case.
Another rumor it is difficult to see any substance behind is Arsenal’s supposed interest in Manchester United’s Nani. The fact that English tabloids are linking to a report in Portuguese publication A Bola that in turn claims to have gotten its information from an English report probably speaks volumes for the veracity of the speculation.
Arsenal have also been linked with another right-sided attacker. The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal are set to compete with Tottenham and Milan to take Brazilian Douglas Costa on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk. The future of Costa and several of his teammates have come under the spotlight following the unrest in Eastern Ukraine. Costa has refused to return to the club, saying that he fears his life would be at risk if he did so. His club, meanwhile, which has announced they will play their home matches in the western city of Lviv, has alleged that agent Kia Joorabchian is attempting to manipulate the situation to engineer moves for the players. Arsenal are believed to have made a failed bid for Costa, 23, two years ago.