As the transfer saga that promises to dominate Arsenal’s summer window drags on, the latest reports bring both good and bad news for the Gunners. On the positive front, Juventus has backed out of talks to sign prime target Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli. Not so encouraging is that Napoli as yet shows no sign of willing to negotiate the striker’s 78.5 million ($103 million) release clause.
Having failed to put up the cash to land Higuain when he left Real Madrid three years ago, Arsenal has reignited its interest this summer in a player who broke the Serie A record with 36 goals last season. However, over the weekend it appeared that Arsenal was about to lose out on the Argentina international once again.
Strong reports emerged of Juventus and Napoli holding talks, but it now seems clear those discussions were short lived.
“[Juventus chief executive, Beppe] Marotta told me that Juventus won't activate the €94million clause for Higuain," Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis said, before Marotta later confirmed this position. “Juventus are very intelligent and they understand that they cannot do this. They know perfectly well that it is a lost battle.”
That may not yet be the end of the situation. Juventus could soon secure more than 100 million pounds ($132 million) from the sale of Paul Pogba to Manchester United, potentially making the Italian champion far more open to the idea of spending big on Higuain.
In contrast, it is very difficult to imagine Arsenal, perhaps Europe’s most parsimonious big club, meeting Higuain’s buyout clause. And the agent of Olivier Giroud has insisted that his client hasn’t been a part of any negotiations for a part-exchange deal.
Arsenal’s one hope could be that Napoli’s determination to avoid Higuain going to rival Juventus means it becomes open to negotiating with the Gunners, particularly with the 28-year-old now in the final two years of his contract.
Another Argentine striker plying his trade in Serie A and interesting Arsenal has also entered an increasingly complex saga. Mauro Icardi finished as Serie A’s joint-top scorer the season before last and his agent, and wife, Wanda Nara has talked up the possibility of a transfer this summer if Inter Milan fails to offer him an improved deal. Nera, though, has stated that the current battle for Icardi is between Juventus and Napoli.
“Can I confirm Napoli and Juventus interest? Yes, the teams that would like to sign him are those that you all know at this point,” she said. “Will he stay? That’s a question for Mauro.”
While upgrading at the center forward position now appears to be the priority of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal could also reinforce its defensive options. With Per Mertesacker set to turn 32 in September, the Gunners are thought to be casting an eye to the future. At least that is the thinking behind The Sun’s claim that both Manchester City’s Jason Denayer and Borussia Dortmund’s Matthias Ginter are being pursued for a combined 22 million pounds ($28.9 million).
Denayer, 21, has yet to make a competitive appearance for City, although did represent Belgium at Euro 2016, where he endured a torrid time against Wales in the quarterfinals. At this point in his career, a loan move looks more likely than a permanent transfer.
Ginter, 22, wasn’t in France, although he was a non-playing member of Germany’s victorious 2014 World Cup squad and will compete in the Olympics next month. He showed his versatility last season, when playing at right-back and in central midfield as well as his preferred position at center-back. Although Arsenal may be interested, it appears unlikely that Dortmund will sell a player of his potential for the relatively modest quoted price of 12 million pounds ($15.7 million).
One transfer that does looks set to go through, though, is for England Under-21 international defender Rob Holding. The Press Association reports that Arsenal has agreed a 2 million pounds ($2.6 million) fee for the 20-year-old has been agreed with Bolton Wanderers, with the player now undergoing a medal and finalizing personal terms.
Holding was a member of the England Under-21 side that won the prestigious Toulon Tournament in France earlier this summer. Last season, playing primarily at center-back, but also operating occasionally on the right of defense, Holding made 26 appearances for Bolton as it was relegated from the English Championship.