Even after a convincing Champions League victory over Udinese, Arsenal continue to be dealt losses.
The Gunners need a dynamic playmaker, and one that was thought to be available, is suddenly off the market. Eden Hazard, one of the best young midfielders in the world, is staying at Lille and will not be joining the Gunners.
Eden will not be leaving this season, said Frederic Paquet, manager of Lille. We are aware of interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe but we are not prepared to sell. He is very happy here; he understands our project and wants to stay for at least another year.
Hazard, 20, has been an Arsenal target for several months. The Belgian would have served as a capable replacement for Samir Nasri, who is on the verge of joining Manchester City.
There might be a shred of hope. It's possible that Hazard was waiting on the result of the Udinese match as some earlier reports suggest, because he was thought to be interested in playing in Champions League matches. The Gunners defeated Udinese to advance to the group stage on Wednesday, but with a week remaining, Arsenal would have needed some type of deal in the place for Hazard before Paquet's comments to realistically have a shot at him.
There was never a formal bid for Hazard, which is puzzling considering the obvious playmaker void. Arsenal made a serious effort to sign Valencia'sJuan Mata, who was in London last month in what appeared to be a sign that he might be heading to the Gunners, according to sources close to the players.
Instead, Mata found his way over to Stamford Bridge, and is the newest addition to Chelsea, after the Blues failed to land Tottenham's Luka Modric.
With Hazard and Mata out of the picture, Arsene Wenger is running out of options while he runs out of time. The long-time Arsenal boss has been under fire for several weeks for his lack of activity in adding a centre back, but with the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Wenger had to shift his focus to finding midfield replacements for two stars.
Champions League group play doesn't start until mid-September but that may not be long enough for Jack Wilshere to be healed from his ankle injury. With an already thin midfield, Wilshere becomes even more vital for the Gunners to avoid an early exit from Champions League.
In the Premier League, Arsenal only have one point in two matches, and face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. The prospect of the Gunners still only having one point after three matches is very plausible.
In short, Wenger may be setting himself up for one his worst weeks of his managerial career. He is also doing himself no favours with some recent comments that are bordering on preposterous.
I expect nobody to leave the club, said Wenger on August 12th, when it was extremely apparent that Fabregas was heading out the door, and Nasri was following quickly behind.
On Tuesday, Wenger basically said his club is complete by claiming he feels no pressure to replace Nasri and Fabregas, because of the additions of Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer.
This club appears to have serious holes, and Wenger's comments suggest he is either in denial or is waving the white flag on the season. It will be quite a task to advance deep in the Champions League, and to contend for the Premier League title with the club's current lineup.
Though missing out on Hazard and Mata hurts, there are some other options. Earlier this month, Daily Star reported that Arsenal considered a £12 million bid for young Russian attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev. Meanwhile, Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund, Douglas Costa of Shakhtar, Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille, and Adel Taarabt of Queens Park Rangers, are other names that have been mentioned, but for now they are all tabloid speculation.
The Guardian recently reported that Rennes allowed Wenger to speak to 21-year-old defensive midfielder Yann M'Vila, and that Wenger was also interested in Sochaux's attacking midfielder Marvin Martin. Both players would be welcomed additions, but so would almost anyone at this point.
There is a week remaining before the deadline, and Wenger still has other needs beyond players like M'Vila and Martin. This Premier League season is already off to a frustrating start.
This Arsenal transfer summer period might be summed up as too little, too late.