Arsene Wenger has denied a report that Arsenal have agreed a deal for Atletico Mineiro youngster Bernard. Leading French sports daily L’Equipe claimed on Monday that the 20-year-old Brazilian was expected in London on Friday to undergo a medical and put the ink on a five-year contract. Wenger, though, said "that report is not true,” according to the Daily Mirror.
Reports of Arsenal’s interest in the attacking midfielder have surfaced in recent days, while he has also been linked with Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund. His stock has risen after being selected for the Confederations Cup and impressing in two substitute appearances.
Bernard has suggested that he could well be on his way to Europe following the second leg of Atletico Mineiro’s Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday. It could well be that all involved in the deal will not comment until after the match in Belo Horizonte, where the Brazilian side will look to overcome a 2-0 deficit against their Paraguayan opponents. The London Evening Standard claims that a £21 million transfer to take the gifted Bernard, who can play out wide or behind the attack, has been agreed.
Bernard would certainly represent an exciting addition and bring added creativity to a side that was uncharacteristically lacking it all too often last season. But signing a top level striker must surely still be a priority for Wenger. Unfortunately for the French coach, Gonzalo Higuain appears to be slipping further from his grasp.
Despite Arsenal having provisionally agreed personal terms with the Argentinian several weeks ago, a compromise over a transfer fee with Real Madrid has failed to be reached. While the Gunners were thought to have prepared to pay £23 million, Madrid continue to hold out for significantly more. And the Spanish giants now appear to have found a club ready to meet their asking price, with Napoli agreeing to pay €37 million (£31.8m), according to Spanish publication AS.
Arsenal may still have hope with the Daily Mirror reporting that Higuain is still keen on a move to the Emirates and will wait 48 hours before committing to Napoli to see if the Gunners can strike a deal with Madrid. However, given Wenger’s history of not paying more than what he views as a player’s true valuation, such a prospect is unlikely.
If the deal does fall through then Arsenal are likely to focus even more attention on Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. The Gunners have already had a £30 million bid rejected for the want-away forward and are expected to return with an increased offer.
Liverpool, though, continue to insist that they have no intention of selling the Uruguayan. The Daily Telegraph reports that talks between Suarez and manager Brendan Rodgers will take place imminently with the player having joined up with his club’s pre-season tour in Australia. While having to contend with Liverpool’s resistance, Arsenal must also surely fear that Real Madrid would look to immediately reinvest the potential windfall from Higuain’s sale on Suarez.
Wenger is also expected to seek a defensive-minded midfielder before the end of the transfer window. And the Daily Mirror believes that Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo is now being pursued. The Brazilian international looks set to find his first-team opportunities limited next season with Bayern’s already stacked midfield being recently augmented by the arrival of Thiago Alcantara. A fee of £15 million could be enough to secure the 25-year-old former Hoffenheim man, reports the Mirror.