Arsène Wenger has insisted that he is not close to adding to his Arsenal squad, but has declined to rule out further signings, including Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. Arsenal’s sole signing in this summer’s transfer window has been experienced long-time Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Currently competing in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore, Wenger has previously stated that he is happy with his current squad as Arsenal seek to improve on last season’s third-placed Premier League finish. But speaking ahead of Saturday’s final of the competition against Everton, the longtime manager suggested he remains open to making additions if the right player becomes available.
“We do not rule out and we do not guarantee that we can sign someone and I’m happy with the squad that I have,” he said in a press conference. “If I find a player with an exceptional potential who can strengthen the squad then I will do it. It depends what is on the market. It’s not easy at the moment because many clubs are out there to buy, and the number of players who can strengthen the big teams in Europe is very restricted.”
Speculation in recent days has claimed that one of the players Wenger would like to sign is Benzema. The France international has seen his future called into question since Rafa Benitez took charge this summer, with reports linking Real Madrid to a number of strikers and Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale reportedly being considered as options to line up in the No. 9 role. While Wenger dismissed the rumors that a £40 million transfer is imminent, he didn’t rule it out entirely.
“I don’t know where that story comes from, that’s not happening at the moment,” he said.
Although Olivier Giroud scored 14 Premier League goals last season, there are still doubts, expressed by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry among others, over whether the striker has the quality to fire the Gunners to a championship.
And Benzema is not the only high-profile striker to have been linked with Arsenal of late. Rumors have continued that the club remains keen on Argentina international Gonzalo Higuaín, who was thought close to moving to the Emirates Stadium before joining Napoli two years ago. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has repeatedly insisted this summer that the player will not be sold unless his prohibitive buyout clause of 94.736 million euros (£65.9 million) was met, which Higuaín’s brother and agent, Nicolas, suggested made it appear that De Laurentiis was in fact keen to sell. However, De Laurentiis has strongly refuted that idea.
“Nicolas, who I love, lives a long way from Italy and he did not follow the constant, damaging reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport,” he told Italian TV station Mediaset, via ESPN. “This is why I revealed the clause. One day the Gazzetta said I would sell him for €40m, the next day €50m and then another day €60m.
“But there is a release clause. When I said that I would be able to buy eight players by selling him, it was a provocation.”
The third forward to be linked with a transfer to Arsenal is Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The speedy Gabon international was originally used in a wide role when signed from Saint-Etienne two years ago, but last season flourished in a more central role, scoring 25 goals in all competitions. Germany publication RevierSport reports that both Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are keen on the 26-year-old, with Aubameyang not adverse to a move. However, Arsenal would face a battle to get their man, with the report claiming that Dortmund are prepared to offer him an improved contract in an effort to get him to stay. After a hugely disappointing season last term, Dortmund will not feature in the Champions League this term.