Arsène Wenger has again not ruled out making a late signing before the transfer window closes on Tuesday, but he has cast doubt on whether the quality of player he desires will become available. Despite winning 1-0 at Newcastle United on Saturday, Arsenal struggled to break down a team that was down to 10 men from the 16th minute. And, with both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud missing chances, there was little to dispel the widespread suggestion that Arsenal still require a top-level striker if they are to end their long wait for a Premier League title.
Yet, even if Wenger now accepts that to be true, his options are few and far between.
“We are open and we are in the transfer market,” Wenger said after the win over Newcastle. “If we find an exceptional player in any sector, we will do it. At the moment I don’t know if something will happen or not.
Arsenal missed out on long-time target Karim Benzema when the France striker stated that he was staying at Real Madrid last week. And since then two more familiar targets have come back into focus. Reports are continuing that a last-gasp bid to bring Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Germain will be launched, despite the deal continuing to look a nonstarter.
While his future appeared in question in January, PSG have been adamant all summer that he not available. And, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic 33 years old and set to leave when his contract ends next summer, Cavani is seen as an integral figure in the French capital. Indeed, on Sunday he scored twice in PSG’s 2-0 win over Monaco.
Arsenal are likely to get the same reply should they, as Metro suggests, make an offer for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín. The Gunners were close to signing the Argentina international when he left Real Madrid two years ago. But after 35 Serie A goals in two seasons, Napoli have been insistent that he will not be going anywhere unless his prohibitive 100 million euros (£72.3 million) release clauses is met. Given that the transfer window in Italy closes on Monday, any approach from Arsenal at this stage would leave Napoli with little or no time to replace arguably their most important player.
With that in mind, Wenger may be looking elsewhere to bolster his attacking options. An exclusive in the Daily Star on Sunday claimed that attention had turned to Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez. Signed from Le Havre in January 2014, the Algeria international has followed up an encouraging first season in the Premier League with a sensational start to the current campaign, scoring four goals in his first three appearances. The 24-year-old would perhaps add some width to an Arsenal attack that can occasionally fall foul of becoming too narrow, however he would still face huge competition for a regular starting role. And Leicester have also stated that he is not for sale, having only extended his contract earlier this month.
In addition to potential arrivals, Monday has also seen rumors of a surprise departure from the Emirates. Spanish outlet Cadena Ser reported earlier in the day that Athletic Bilbao were interested in left-back Nacho Monreal and speculation has since been building, particularly after the player started following the Spanish club on Twitter.
Still, there is yet to be any concrete news with just hours of the window remaining, and while presenting new signing Raul Garcia, Athletic president Josu Urrutia brushed off speculation over Monreal’s arrival. It would be a significant surprise were Arsenal to agree to sell the Spain international. Not only has Monreal started each of Arsenal’s four matches so far this season, but his exit would leave Wenger with just Kieran Gibbs, whose career has regularly been disrupted by injury, as the only established option for the left-back slot.