Arsène Wenger has suggested that he already has a squad capable of fulfilling Arsenal’s ambitions next season, without having to go back into the transfer market. Yet reports of a potential exit for one of Arsenal’s senior players could prompt the Gunners back into action.
Currently competing in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore, Arsenal have so far added only former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech to a squad that finished third in the Premier League last season. Reports in Spain, though, suggest Nacho Monreal is close to a move to Athletic Bilbao. The 29-year-old left-back has just a year remaining on his contract and, according to Spanish publication AS, Monreal is set to sign a three-year deal with the Primera Division club for a fee of 10 million euros (£7 million).
That would appear to be a good deal for a player who will turn 30 in January, especially given that Arsenal already have another strong left-back at the club in Kieran Gibbs. Yet the Daily Mirror reports that Wenger has no interest in allowing the Spain international to leave and will instead offer him a three-year deal to stay.
Certainly, speaking earlier this week, Wenger gave little indication that he was ready to alter his squad.
“Honestly I don’t close the door if we find any player who can strengthen the squad,” he said. “But we have already strengthened the squad, and I believe part of the success of a team is the level of cohesion. We have a good level of cohesion, and what is very important is to see how we can move forward again.
“We felt at the end of last season that we had moved forward, but I know that will not be enough. In this pre-season, we have to move forward again together. That is for me it is much more important than dreaming about finding a miraculous player who wins you everything. I believe we have the quality and it’s now how much we can be stronger together.”
But were Monreal to be sold, it would likely push Arsenal into action. And already there are claims of interest in Napoli’s Algerian left-back Faouzi Ghoulam. A report from Italian outlet MediaSet, via Talksport, states that a £10 million offer has been tabled for the 24-year-old. Ghoulam, who joined Napoli front Saint-Etienne last summer, made 21 appearances in Serie A last season as well as a further 13 in the Europa League.
Given that Monreal filled in at center-back last season, his exit may also prompt Wenger into a more focused search for reinforcements at the heart of his backline. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Arsenal are concentrating their attention on Roma. The Italian publication reports that Arsenal have already been knocked back in a request for Greece international Kostas Manolas, and are now keen on teammate Alessio Romagnoli.
The 20-year-old, who spent last season on loan with Sampdoria, has also been drawing interest from AC Milan, although their coach Sinisa Mihajlovic laughed off Roma’s asking price of 25 million euros (£17.5 million).
“I like strawberries too but they shouldn't cost as much as oysters -- €25m is a lot of money for a player who is still young and could potentially be great,” he told reporters, according to ESPN. “The club will do all we can to get him and I'm optimistic, but the transfer window is open for a long time and we've got to wait to see how the club can strengthen us.”
One deal that Wenger insists won’t be happening this summer, is the exit of Mesut Özil. The German attacking midfielder has often been the subject of criticism since becoming the club’s record transfer two years ago. And, despite a fine end to last season, he has been linked with a transfer to Italian champions Juventus, amid reports of his unhappiness at the Emirates.
“Look, I never spoke to him on that front or on a football front as well,” Wenger said, according to Sky Sports. “But the suggestions are created always by people who -- I don’t know, want to create news, but there is nothing concrete in that. He’s an important player for our team and he’s a player of course we count on to continue our development and our success.”