With reports of a deal in place to add Germany striker Lukas Podolski, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is apparently continuing a search for new players to bolster the squad for the 2012-2013 season.
According to ESPN, Wenger is showing interest in midfielder Younes Belhanda. The 22-year-old Moroccan has been linked to AC Milan and Paris St Germain, and Montpellier have stated they would be open to selling him at about £15 million.
I know Younes well and like him a lot, Wenger said. But I don't want to cause problems. Only Montpellier can decide where he goes.
Belhanda is regarded as a versatile and athletic midfielder, and has been compared to former Arsenal star Robert Pires. Born in Avignon, France, Belhanda exhibits the technique and grace of many French players, and the youngster already has a great deal of experience with Montpellier to go along with his 12 caps with Morocco.
Milan, I know nothing about. I think it is just rumours, said Belhanda to French TV station TF1. My dream is to play in England or Germany. Everybody wants to play in the Premier League and there are some great clubs like Arsenal, which is almost a French club.
While one Moroccan may be on his way in to Emirates, another might be on his way out. Daily Mirror reported in late February that forward Marouane Chamakh was linked to Fiorentina, and there were autumn reports of Chamakh being a target of multiple Ligue 1 clubs.
The expected arrival of Podolski likely means that Chamakh's time with Arsenal has come to an end. Chamakh seems to have lost his confidence in the past year, and has been used sparingly by Wenger.
Chamakh might not be the only Arsenal forward to be on his way out. Daily Mirror reported that Hannover are prepared to offer £4 million for striker Nicklas Bendtner, who is on loan at Sunderland. The 24-year-old Denmark international has scored only five goals in 21 matches for the Black Cats this season, and was reportedly linked to £10 million deals to foreign clubs last summer.
Daily Mail reported that Arsenal are on the verge of adding Jan Vertonghen, while local rival Tottenham pursue the Ajax star, as well.
Arsenal's interest in Vertonghen was also reported by Sky Sports on Mar. 6, and the Belgian star's valuation is at a reasonable fee of about £10 million. Vertonghen had expressed interest in playing in the Premier League, and for either Arsenal or Newcastle. The 24-year-old is capable of playing defensive midfielder, as well, which could be an ideal situation for the Gunners, as Wenger could use an experienced reserve for defensive midfielder for Alex Song.
Should Vertonghen be firmly planted at centre back, he could be partnered with fellow Belgian centre back Thomas Vermaelen, who also played for Ajax and is capable of playing left back. With Per Mertesacker out of action for an extended period, Vermaelen might be an ideal fit for Wenger.
Another ideal fit might be midfield wizard Mario Gotze. Daily Mail reported that Arsenal are preparing a £25 million bid for the Borussia Dortmund star, which would make the 19-year-old the record transfer bid for the club. Arsenal have never paid £20 million for a player, but Gotze's impressive technical skills and his already rather extensive experience in the Bundesliga and for the German national team make him one of the most sought-after young stars.
Gotze has been coveted by several clubs, which include Manchester United and Chelsea, and Arsenal may find themselves in a bidding war for the the attacking midfielder this summer.
If Gotze doesn't find his way to Emirates, Arsenal will still have their share of capable playmakers. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky, 31, who has seen a recent resurgence, has already signed a new contract with the Gunners.
It's a great honour to sign a new deal with Arsenal. I love the club and am proud to wear the Arsenal shirt, said Rosicky, on Arsenal.com. It's felt like home since I arrived six years ago and I couldn't be happier to commit my future to the team.
I am very happy because I always wanted to keep Tomas. He is a real Arsenal player in the way that he puts the team first and is technically at the level of the Club, said Wenger.