Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has ruled out a transfer for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech and backed current No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny to “learn from his mistakes.” Szczesny’s future was called into question after he made errors in the lead up to both Southampton goals in a 2-0 defeat on New Year’s Day and was allegedly subsequently found to have been smoking in the dressing room, reportedly earning a fine from the club. While Wenger wouldn’t disclose the finer points of what happened, he insisted that he hasn’t lost faith with the 24-year-old.
“Ideally you want everybody to behave in a perfect way,” he said at his press conference ahead of the visit of Stoke City on Sunday. "I like Wojciech as a person. When he makes a mistake, he stands up for it. He’s a guy who learns from his mistakes. I’m happy with his development.”
Meanwhile, there has been increasing speculation of late that Arsenal could be lining up Čech to take over the responsibility between the posts. Long considered one of the world’s elite goalkeepers, Čech has found himself pushed down the pecking order by the return of Thibaut Courtois to Stamford Bridge this season. And only last month, Čech’s agent suggested that an approach from Arsenal would be well received by the 32-year-old. However, with Szczesny, Colombian international David Opsina and the up and coming Emiliano Martinez in his ranks, Wenger stated that he had no interest in taking Čech across London.
“No, Petr Čech is at Chelsea and we have three goalkeepers who for me are top class,” he said. “At the moment there is big competition going on. And I have no doubt that we have the needed quality.”
José Mourinho has already insisted that there was “no chance” of Čech leaving Chelsea in the January transfer window, although his future at Stamford Bridge is surely a major question mark beyond the summer.
As for Arsenal, Wenger is still believed to be on the lookout for signings in this month’s transfer window. Unsurprisingly, though, it doesn’t appear that an ambitious move for Real Madrid’s Isco will be forthcoming, as had been put forward in rumors this week. It was a transfer that always appeared a massive longshot given, not only how important the creative midfielder has been to Real Madrid this season, but the fact that Arsenal’s needs so clearly lie elsewhere.
Wenger again reiterated on Friday that Lukas Podolski had been allowed to go on loan to Inter Milan this week and that a similar arrangement would be found for Yaya Sanogo, due to the wealth of options in attacking areas.
“We are short on the defensive side of our game, but not on the offensive side,” he explained. “We have plenty of offensive players. We have so many offensive players where we don’t get the chance to play, so we wouldn’t buy somebody else in the attack.”
Arsenal have been linked with a number of defenders this month to boost a backline that has been left thin on the ground this campaign. As well as Winston Reid, the most recent rumors have centered on interest in St Etienne’s 29-year-old center-back Loïc Perrin and Villarreal’s Brazilian 24-year-old Gabriel Paulista. However, Wenger played down speculation regarding both on Friday.
“We are not on the case” he said. “We keep all that as quiet as possible.”
Wenger has previously revealed that he would look to bolster his numbers in central midfield during January, with injuries currently keeping Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere on the sidelines -- although Aaron Ramsey is now ready to return. With a transfer now unlikely to happen for Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin this month, the Daily Mirror has put Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündoğan forward as a target.
Arsenal, along with many of Europe’s top clubs, were strongly linked to the player before he missed almost the whole of last season with a back injury. The industrious and skilled-passing midfielder has now returned to action as part of a Dortmund team struggling in the Bundesliga relegation zone. And his future is soon set to be the subject of more conjecture, with the contract extension he signed earlier this year only taking him through to the summer of 2016. The Mirror states that Gündoğan could be available now for £16 million, and that Arsenal are ready to make their move. It would be a major surprise, however, were Dortmund willing to sell, and for such a relatively low price, midway through the season.