It is exactly a month since Arsenal’s season came to a close with the relief of qualification for the Champions League, yet there has yet to be any real action by the club in the transfer market. With their much-discussed transfer war chest of £70 million, Arsenal are expected to add significantly to their squad this summer. Arsene Wenger is not only under pressure to spend, but to bring in players of established quality who can take the Gunners back to challenging for honors that the infrastructure around the club merits.
Yet, to this point, the free transfer capture of France Under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo is the only signing. While that adds to Wenger’s options up front, there will be some disgruntled faces around the Emirates if a front man renowned at the top level is not secured to, at the very least, compete with Olivier Giroud. Several big names have been linked. Here are the four most likely to be arriving before the end of August.
Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
The Argentina international currently appears to be the top of Arsenal’s wanted list. Wenger first tried to sign Higuain when he was at River Plate and recent reports suggest that the Gunners are prepared to offer £22 million to secure his services. With Juventus also having shown an interest, Real Madrid are likely to want to drive up the price above £25 million. Their stance appears to be unaffected by Higuain’s stated desire to leave.
The player’s prolific record in La Liga would suggest that would still represent value for money, but he has been less reliable a goal-scorer in the Champions League and his finishing can sometimes desert him at critical moments. The 25-year-old would, though, be an improvement on what Wenger currently has at his disposal.
Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina)
For a long time the gifted Montenegrin was thought to be Arsenal’s top target this summer. It now appears, however, that their attentions may have switched elsewhere as competition from the likes of Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester City intensifies for the 23-year-old. The player has an agreement that he can leave this summer for €30 million (£25.7m).
Although he didn’t have the best of seasons last campaign, Jovetic would seem a perfect fit for Arsenal. In similar vein to Robin van Persie, he is not a natural No. 9, but has the all-round qualities to flourish in that position for a team of Arsenal’s passing style.
David Villa (Barcelona)
Wenger made his admiration for the forward clear in January when he also had an approach to sign him rejected by Barcelona. The story is likely to be different now, with the Spanish champions having added Neymar to their ranks. There have been stories that Wenger has now switched his attentions to younger targets, but a move may yet happen at the right price.
While a broken leg looks to have taken away some of the sharpness away from the 31-year-old’s game, Villa’s fine finishing and versatility in also being able to play from the left should appeal to plenty of Premier League sides. His future is likely to be decided after he returns form the Confederations Cup.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Wenger has continued to suggest that he would be interested in the England forward were he to become available. There remains plenty of doubt about his situation with no further comment being made since Sir Alex Ferguson’s claims that Rooney had asked to leave the club were denied by the player.
Manchester United may well be tempted by a significant offer for the 27-year-old, whose performances have become increasingly inconsistent. However, they would surely be keen to sell Rooney outside of the Premier League. And, despite their increased wealth, it remains hard to envisage Arsenal putting together a financial package that could come close to matching his current wages of around £250,000 a week.