Having secured the club-record signing of Mesut Ozil in the summer, Arsenal have been linked to three further Real Madrid players heading into the January transfer window.
Before eventually snapping up Ozil, it is widely believed that Arsene Wenger was also keen on taking Angel di Maria. While it was seen at the time that it was a case of either Ozil or Di Maria being allowed to leave the Bernabeu, following Gareth Bale’s arrival, there has been renewed speculation of late that the Argentine winger could still be on his way.
Arsenal have been one of the clubs cited with an interest, alongside, Monaco and Manchester United. However, the source of reports claiming that Di Maria is trying to force through his exit is a contentious issue, with suggestions that Madrid are planting stories to try and force the player’s hand. After scoring his second goal in two games, against Valencia on Sunday, Di Maria hit out at the persistent rumors.
“I do not want to go,” he said, told Spanish sports daily AS, according to ESPN. “I want to win my place in the team. Not me, nor anyone in my camp, has asked for a new contract. What came out was lies. I have been through some difficult days. I am just thinking about Real Madrid and I am still working hard. I have to keep going and try to earn a place in the team.”
Another Madrid player frequently linked with an exit of late, and said to be on Arsenal’s radar, is Iker Casillas. It has been a year to forget for the Spain captain, who lost his place under Jose Mourinho and has failed to regain it under Carlo Ancelotti. This season the 32-year-old has had to make do with appearances in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
Yet, having previously suggested that he would revaluate his situation in January, Casillas says he is happy to stay at the club for the time being and try to fulfill the dream of lifting their 10th European Cup.
“Presently I want to stay with Real Madrid and win the 'Decima," he said, according to Marca. “I belong to Real Madrid, it's where I have always been, and what I want is to stay and win more leagues.”
Yet, citing stories from Spain, the Daily Mirror reported over the weekend that Arsenal will push to sign Casillas in January. There was strong speculation in the summer that Wenger wanted an experienced goalkeeper to provide an alternative to Wojciech Szczesny, although the Pole has since returned to fine form this season.
The Mirror also believes that Arsenal are determined to sign Casillas’s young teammate Alvaro Morata. According to the tabloid’s report, Arsenal were keen to secure the 21-year-old forward on loan in January, but having had that inquiry dismissed are now looking to obtain first option on him for the summer. Despite his playing time being expected to be increased this season, Morata has started just once in La Liga to date.
It remains to be seen whether Wenger will decide that he currently has enough firepower at his disposal, or if he’ll look to boost Arsenal’s title chances by signing another striker to take some of the load off of Olivier Giroud.
It was believed that Arsenal made a late attempt to take Demba Ba on loan in the summer transfer window before Chelsea quashed the deal. The Senegalese striker has now dismissed the chances of the move being revived next month.
"People talk a lot about me joining Arsenal," Ba told The Sun on Sunday. "But there has never been an approach from them. There is nothing going on in this regard. Things are OK for me at the moment.
"It's working, as the situation is turning around for me here bit by bit. I am getting more time on the pitch as a result of the injuries to our strikers Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres.”