The extent of Theo Walcott’s injury has convinced Arsene Wenger that he needs to add a forward to his squad this month, with a renewed attempt made to take Alvaro Morata on loan from Real Madrid, according to widespread reports.
Walcott is set to be out for six months and, with Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo also currently on the sidelines, Arsenal are short of cover for Olivier Giroud. Having previously suggested that his current squad would be able to cope, it now appears that Wenger has come round to the belief that reinforcements are needed if the Gunners are to maintain their push to end a decade-long-wait for a Premier League title.
However, Wenger will likely have to make do with short-term solutions, with his major targets unlikely to be attainable in the January transfer window. With that in mind, the Daily Telegraph, along with several other publications, reports that Arsenal have made a new inquiry to take Morata on loan for the rest of the season.
The move appears to have little chance of success, however. The 21-year-old is the only established back up to Karim Benzema in the Madrid squad and, while the Spanish giants are thought to maintain an interest in Luis Suarez, manager Carlo Ancelotti has said in recent days that there will be no movement either in or out of the club this month.
According to The Telegraph, Arsenal’s prime target is Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, with interest also held in Edin Dzeko, Wayne Rooney, Bayer Munich’s Mario Mandzukic and Napoli’s Jackson Martinez, though none are likely to be available until the summer. Still, the Daily Mail has claimed that Wenger will move for Martinez this month, if a deal for Morata fails to materialize, and, indeed, has already made an inquiry for the Colombia international.
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That deal appears an equally far-fetched prospect. Having scored 30 goals in this first season in Europe last term, Martinez was the subject of interest from Napoli in the summer. Yet, Porto refused to listen to offers that failed to match the player’s €40 million (£33m) release clause and there is little prospect of that stance having shifted, especially in midseason.
According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal also remain keen on Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. The France international, who has excelled in Turin since leaving Manchester United on a free transfer in 2012, was first linked to the Gunners last summer. But, while Juventus have previously suggested that they may eventually lack the financial strength to hold onto Pogba, chief executive Beppe Marotta has affirmed that the Italian champions are doing everything possible to keep him.
“This team is strong and versatile, and we don’t want to lose any of our big players," he said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He’s a very good player and has a lot of big clubs watching him closely, but Juve are a big club too. Soon we’ll meet with his people, with whom we have an excellent rapport."
Meanwhile, Arsenal have an eye on Glen Johnson’s uncertain future at Liverpool, according to Talksport. The right-back’s contract has 18 months left to run and, with Liverpool requesting that he take a pay cut, talks over a new deal are said to have stalled. The report claims that Wenger is considering capitalizing on the situation and making a move for the 29-year-old as a potential replacement for Bacary Sagna, whose own contract expires this summer.