For the second time in three years, Arsenal look to have missed out on the signing of striker Gonzalo Higuain. Outbid when the Argentina international left Real Madrid for Napoli in 2013, reports in Italy now claim that Juventus has agreed to pay his massive 94 million euros ($103 million) buyout clause. Higuain is said to be undergoing a medical with the Italian champions on Saturday.
With a top-class striker an obvious need for Arsene Wenger's side, Arsenal had been linked to Higuain for much of the summer after a season in which he broke the Serie A record with 36 goals. But Napoli's refusal to allow him to leave for anything less than the clause in his contract always made a transfer to the Emirates Stadium highly unlikely.
Some Arsenal fans will doubtless feel frustrated that their club has again lost out on a top target who could have helped deliver a first Premier League title in 13 years. However, there is plenty of justification in Arsenal's refusal to pay such a large amount for a player who is 28 years old, has just two years remaining on his contract and, particularly with Argentina, has shown a worrying habit of missing big chances when the pressure is really on.
Of course, fans' anger will only be truly assuaged if Arsenal add at least one potentially decisive player to its squad before the transfer window closes at the end of next month. And the club would appear to be aware of this fact.
At the end of a report posted on Arsenal's official website announcing the signing of England Under-21 defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers on Friday came a message for Gunners supporters.
“We remain in the market, so stay close to Arsenal.com for any further transfer news,” it read.
If a report from French Eurosport is to be believed, a new arrival could soon be on the way. The outlet claims that last season's PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, is set to join Arsenal from Premier League champions Leicester City.
Arsenal has already been disappointed in a move for one of Leicester's title heroes this summer, when striker Jamie Vardy rejected the chance to join the club even after a fee had been agreed. But Arsenal is said to have held talks with Mahrez's agent while in France for a friendly with Lens on Friday, with the Algerian keen to make the transfer happen. A fee of 50 million euros ($55 million) is believed to have been set.
The news contradicts a statement from Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri earlier in the week, when he insisted that Mahrez wanted to stay. However, following the departure of teammate N'Golo Kante to Chelsea, there were strong reports that Mahrez, who scored 17 Premier League goals last season, wanted out.
Of course, signing Mahrez still wouldn't solve Arsenal's lack of a world class center-forward. With Higuain now seemingly gone as an option, Arsenal could well turn its attention toward Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette.
The France international was linked to Arsenal among a number of other clubs last summer after a season in which he scored 27 goals in Ligue 1. Perhaps affected by the speculation, the 25-year-old's last campaign was less impressive, leading him to missing out on France's Euro 2016 squad. But he is thought to remain a target for some top clubs, with The Guardian suggesting he is on the radar of the Gunners. When contacted by the British newspaper, Lacazette's agent refused to be drawn on speculation that his client has asked to leave Lyon.
“We can not comment on the information that can appear in the press,” David Venditelli said in an email. “We have decided with the player not to say anything at this time.”
Arsenal would not only face a challenge persuading Lyon to sell, but also to beat off strongly rumored competition from Spanish giants Barcelona. Wenger would hope that his ability to offer more regular first-team action could be a persuasive factor.
Hope does appear to have now gone, though, of signing Matthias Ginter. The versatile Borussia Dortmund defender was linked with a 12 million pounds ($15.7 million) transfer to the Emirates Stadium last week. It always appeared an unlikely deal, given that Ginter is just 22 and that Dortmund lost Mats Hummels to Bayern Munich this summer. And Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel has now spoken up, stressing that the player will be staying right where he is.
"With Ginter, I think everything is said," he said. "German clubs wanted to sign him and now English clubs want to sign him. I don't know if everything is true or it is just rumors but we made our point clear - Matthias is our player and stays our player."