Arsenal continue to be linked to new players as discussions persist about how the north London club plan to spend their summer bolstering their roster.
Arsene Wenger has made no secret that the he wants to bring in Koln striker Lukas Podolski.
We want Podolski, said Wenger, according to The Express. Many times people said we rely too much on Robin van Persie and that is true. But if we can find world-class players we will.
Podolski has shown interest in Lazio, but that might be contingent upon whether the Serie A club qualifies for Champions League. Only three Serie A clubs qualify for Champions League 2012-2013, and Lazio are currently in third place, with just a three-point lead over both Napoli and Udinese with nine matches remaining.
Arsenal are currently in third place in the Premier League (three points ahead of Tottenham and eight points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea), with eight matches remaining. With four Premier League teams able to advance to Champions League, Arsenal might be a safer destination for Podolski than Lazio.
Should the Gunners miss out on the 26-year-old forward, there are other players who can fill the void of reserve striker for van Persie. Edin Dzeko is on Wenger's radar, according to the Web site www.caughtoffside.com. Dzeko has been a solid performer for Manchester City, but the club may be interested in revamping their attack with the status of Carlos Tevez up in the air. Despite Manchester City's success this season, a club with such deep pockets can consider upgrading their forwards even when they are thriving.
Dzeko is 26, and has 13 goals in 26 matches for City. The Bosnian star was an excellent performer for Wolfsburg, but is sometimes criticized for his temper.
Wenger may pursue a top-rated midfielder this summer, as well. According to Metro, Arsenal are still in the mix for Eden Hazard. The 21-year-old Lille playmaker was a Gunners target last summer, but stayed at Lille despite heavy interest from other clubs. Hazard has been linked to Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham, as well as Real Madrid in recent months.
Though Hazard might be a great fit with the Gunners, it might be difficult for the Belgian starlet to find his way to Emirates with so many wealthy clubs willing to make huge bids.
Arsenal may also be searching for defenders, as the club has been riddled with injuries in recent seasons. Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is an Arsenal target, according to the Web site Insidefutbol.com. The 22-year-old French centre back can also play full back, and has accumulated a great deal of experience with the Ligue 1 club. Newcastle are also reportedly interested in Yanga-Mbiwa.
Meanwhile, van Persie has been the subject of some rather dubious speculation, as the Dutch superstar has yet to sign a contract extension with Arsenal. The clubs interested in acquiring van Persie should not be all that surprising: Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.
But the potential transfer fees for van Persie have bordered on insulting. In December, the Sun reported that Manchester City would make a £41.6 million offer for van Persie. Metro had linked van Persie to Juventus for £30 million, while the Express reported Real Madrid would make a £25 million bid. Caught Offside reported on Juventus making a £25 million offer and Barcelona going as low as £20.8 million.
With the exception of Lionel Messi, and perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo, van Persie might be the best goal scorer in the world. Arsenal will make every effort to keep van Persie, but should he leave, expect an enormous fee in exchange for the leading scorer in the Premier League.