Arsene Wenger has not ruled out re-entering the transfer market in January, despite expressing his delight at now having a “massive squad” at his disposal. There was much concern from Arsenal fans at the start of the season that the club had failed to utilize their new financial strength.
Arsenal's fortunes changed dramatically, though, with the club-record signing of Mesut Ozil. The German central midfielder has played a big part in the club soaring to the top of the Premier League, and being well-placed in their Champions League group ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Borussia Dortmund. What’s more, the positive results have been achieved with plenty of players still on the treatment table.
"We have a squad that is very, very good in quality and in numbers," he said, according to ESPN. "If there is a good opportunity to make another signing in January, why not? But we are not desperate now.
"It's important to remember who is out injured because when they all come back in November and the beginning of December, then we have a really massive squad."
The area of the squad that Wenger looks most likely to strengthen is up front. Deals failed to be reached for Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain in the summer, leaving a heavy reliability on Olivier Giroud. There has been mounting speculation in recent weeks that Arsenal are targeting Giroud’s rival for a place in the France team, Karim Benzema.
The 25-year-old has had a disappointing start to his season at Real Madrid and there has been talk of the Spanish giants already lining up his replacement. Metro now reports on the latest rumor, coming from a recognized FIFA agent who claims that Benzema will be the subject of a big-money offer form a major Premier League club.
“A very important Premier League club is after Karim,” Francois Gallardo told Le Sport 10. “This club wants the transfer to happen this winter, but if this is not possible, then next summer at the latest. “The offer will be around €50 million (£43.3m).”
A January move would be complicated by, among other factors, Benzema being cup-tied for the Champions League, should Arsenal make it through to the knockout phase. The same would be true should speculation linking Arsenal with a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski come to fruition.
The Daily Mirror makes the claim that the Gunners are prepared to pay £25 million for the striker, who they will come up against on Tuesday, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. Speculation has surrounded the Poland international's potential move to Bayern Munich on a free transfer, and he even appeared to admit that a deal was all-but done. However, Lewandowski has since tried to backtrack on that revelation as well as stating, while he was in England on international duty, that he would one day like to play in the Premier League. Such comments have got the British press excited that Lewandowski could yet come to their shores, but a move to Bayern still seems a near certainty, barring a dramatic twist.
The form of Giroud also counts against such large sums being spent on a new striker. Indeed, Wenger believes that the failure to bring in a big-name forward over the summer has helped the former Montpellier man’s impressive start to the campaign.
"Maybe it was a bit of luck for Olivier that nobody came in,” he said. “It meant he knew at the start of the season that he would get a chance to show just how good he is.
"And this season he has been amazing. His technical level has improved so much since he arrived here. Instead of always just thinking 'I have to score,' he has become a real team player.”
It is a similar situation with Arsenal’s goalkeeping department. It was believed that Wenger was targeting a more experienced stopper over the summer due to Wojciech Szczesny’s poor season last term. But the Pole has started this campaign well, not giving loan signing from Palermo, Emiliano Viviano, a look in.
Still, Arsenal continue to be linked with goalkeepers, and Iker Casillas in particular. The Real Madrid legend has not won his place back in the team, despite the exit of Jose Mourinho and arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, and recently said that he would have to reassess his future in January. But Ancelotti is hoping that the Spain international will remain at the Bernabeu.
“I haven't talked to him about leaving," he said, according to Talksport. "He's a great keeper and a great professional.
"Even if he doesn't play he helps the team, he's a true captain.
"I hope he stays because he's good for the atmosphere. I need to talk to him because it's only fair, but he looks happy to me and he's been very professional."
Talksport also links Arsenal with a move for Borussia Monchengladbach’s highly rated young keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The 21-year-old Germany international has been strongly linked with a transfer to Barcelona, with recent reports suggesting that a move had all-but been agreed. But the player’s agent has now claimed that he is in discussions to extend his stay.
"Borussia already knows that there are two or three big clubs interested in him," Gerd vom Bruch told Marca. "Right now we are talking with the club about extending his contract."