Arsenal appear on the verge of completing their first major signing of the summer, but it is not the man they have so publicly pursued for weeks, Luis Suarez. Instead, manager Arsene Wenger looks poised to recruit Bayern Munich defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo after the Brazil international revealed that he is keen on a move to the Emirates. The Champions League winners have admitted that the player can depart, with reports of Arsenal having bid between £14 million and £17 million for his services. While Wolfsburg are interested in keeping him in the Bundesliga, the 26-year-old is instead keen on a move to England.
“My contract with Bayern runs until 2015 but it is very important that I play first-team football to keep getting called up for Brazil,” he said, according to The Guardian. “I am in a very delicate situation at Bayern and this needs sorting out. I have personal and professional reasons to move. I have heard about the Arsenal interest. It's a big club we're talking about here so of course I'd like to play for them."
“Arsenal play a very attractive brand of football and are in the Champions League,” he added. “They also have a very clever manager in Arsene Wenger. Even when Bayern beat them in the last Champions League [on aggregate] you could see they are not pushovers."
Luiz Gustavo played a key, if unsung, role in Brazil’s Confederations Cup triumph earlier this summer, but has seen his chances of regular action at Bayern diminished by the arrivals of Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze. He could, though, provide a valuable functional component to Arsenal’s midfield and give the squad its first true anchorman since the departure of another Brazilian, Gilberto Silva, in 2008.
Having had a bid rejected for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender last month, Wenger is also thought to have considered an approach for Sevilla’s Geoffrey Kondogbia. The robust midfielder has also been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United but Sevilla are intent on holding onto the player who helped France to the Under-20 World Cup title.
“Kondogbia is off the market," Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said. "But whoever wants him has to pay his €20m (£17.1m) clause, plus VAT. But please, any team that tries to sign him -- don’t. We will consider it an attack. I’ve already reached an agreement with [the company that owns half the player’s rights] Doyen and Kondogbia will not be leaving this summer."
Arsenal may have more luck with a move for long-time reported target Yoann Gourcuff. Lyon have stated that the attacking midfielder could depart as they look to remove his salary from their wage bill but won’t consider subsidizing a loan move to another Ligue 1 club. Yet, president Jean-Michel Aulas did reveal that the France international would be willing to take a pay cut in order to complete a move to the Emirates.
“Can you see us paying part of his salary for him to play against us with another French club? We've never considered that and it would be even more stupid now than it was a fortnight ago,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe.
"All that I know, if I understood correctly, is that he was ready to lower his salary to go to Arsenal, but that's not the same thing. I spoke to his lawyer two weeks ago and he asked for the power of attorney to negotiate a transfer. I said no, but I would be keen to offer a non-exclusive power of attorney to see what happens."