A terrible summer transfer period just got worse for Arsenal.
Eden Hazard, one of the best young midfielders in the world, is staying at Lille and will not be joining the Gunners in August.
Eden will not be leaving this season, said Frederic Paquet, manager of Lille. We are aware of interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe but we are not prepared to sell. He is very happy here; he understands our project and wants to stay for at least another year.
Hazard, 20, has been an Arsenal target for several months. The Belgian would have served as a capable replacement for Samir Nasri, who is on the verge of joining Manchester City.
It's possible that Hazard was waiting on the result of the Udinese match as some earlier reports suggest, but that might be a stretch. The Gunners defeated Udinese to advance to the group stage on Wednesday, but with a week remaining, Arsenal would have at least needed some type of deal in the works for Hazard before Paquet's comments.
With Hazard and Juan Mata out of the picture, Arsene Wenger is running out of options. The long-time Arsenal boss has been under fire for several weeks for his lack of activity in adding a centre back, but with the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Wenger is now under serious pressure and time constraints to find midfield replacements.
Champions League group play doesn't start until mid-September but that may not be long enough for Jack Wilshere to be healed from his ankle injury. With an already thin midfield, Wilshere becomes even more vital for the Gunners to avoid an early exit from Champions League.
In the Premier League, Arsenal only have one point in two matches, and face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. The prospect of the Gunners still only having one point after three matches is very plausible.
In short, Wenger may be setting himself up for one his worst weeks of his managerial career. He is also doing himself no favours with some recent comments that are bordering on preposterous.
I expect nobody to leave the club, said Wenger on August 12th, when it was extremely apparent that Fabregas was heading out the door, and Nasri was following quickly behind.
On Tuesday, Wenger basically said his club is complete by claiming he feels no pressure to replace Nasri and Fabregas, because of the additions of Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer.
This club is not complete, unless Wenger is content with with not going deep in Champions League play and having a slim chance of even finishing in fourth place in the Premier League. Wenger's comments suggest he is either in denial or is waving the white flag on the season.
Though missing out on Hazard and Mata hurts, there are other options. Earlier this month, Daily Star reported that Arsenal considered a £12 million bid for young Russian attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev. Meanwhile, Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund, Douglas Costa of Shakhtar, Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille, and Adel Taarabt of Queens Park Rangers, are other names that have been mentioned, but for now they are all tabloid speculation.
The Guardian recently reported that Rennes allowed Wenger to speak to 21-year-old defensive midfielder Yann M'Vila, and that Wenger was also interested in Sochaux's attacking midfielder Marvin Martin. Both players would be welcomed additions, but so would almost anyone at this point.
There is a week remaining before the deadline, and Wenger still has other needs beyond players like M'Vila and Martin. This Premier League season is already off to a frustrating start.
This Arsenal transfer summer period might be summed up as too little, too late.