With Real Madrid having finally appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager, it is likely that Arsenal’s pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain will now come to a swift conclusion. Both the Gunners and Juventus are vying for his signature, but have yet to agree a fee with the Spanish giants. It would now appear that Arsene Wenger is turning his attentions toward strengthening other areas of his squad.
A more physically imposing midfielder will likely be a priority following last summer’s departure of Alex Song and another long-term injury suffered by Abou Diaby. At the moment, Wenger's main target may be Marouane Fellaini. There are mixed reports over whether Arsenal have already met a clause in his Everton contract that allows him to join a Champions League club for a fee believed to be around £22 million.
But it seems that discussions over personal terms are underway. The Daily Mail reports that a move is being held up because Arsenal are hesitant to meet the Belgium international’s wage demands of in excess of £100,000 a week. While the Gunners are prepared to break that barrier for the first time for Higuain, they appear less enthusiastic about doing the same for the 25-year-old former Standard Liege man. He currently earns around £75,000 a week at Goodison Park.
Whether Fellaini accepts reduced terms could come down to how much he desires a move and if other suitors, such as Manchester United and Chelsea vie for his signature. Mikel Arteta notably took a reduction in his wages when he made the move from Everton to Arsenal in 2011.
There is also speculation that Wenger is still eyeing up central defenders, despite it appearing increasingly likely that Laurent Koscielny will reject overtures elsewhere to stay at the club. Arsenal have been long-term suitors of Swansea City captain Ashley Williams and the Daily Telegraph now reports that the Wales international is keen to leave the Capital One Cup winners, with the Emirates his destination of choice. Arsenal are reluctant to meet Swansea’s £10 million valuation for a player who will turn 29 in August, although Williams’s desire to leave could force his club to lower their asking price.
If that does not happen then Arsenal will turn their attentions to Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos, according to the Sun. Still just 21, the robust Papadopoulos is already a regular for Greece and is one of the best young central defenders in Europe. Rated at £12 million, he has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail claims that Arsenal have had a bid of £2.5 million rejected for Le Havre left-back Benjamin Mendy. It is said that the Ligue 2 side are after double that figure for the promising 18-year-old. It would be a major surprise were Arsenal to move for a left-back at this juncture, however. Wenger signed Spain international Nacho Monreal in January to compete for the spot with Kieran Gibbs, while Andre Santos has also returned to the Emirates from his loan spell with Gremio.