Arsenal remain alive in the Capital One Cup, but their victory over West Brom on penalties on Wednesday showed once more just how thin the Gunners’ squad is. Arsene Wenger will doubtless be delighted that his side, which featured 10 changes from the previous match and included a host of teenagers, was able to progress, but it was far from an ideal solution. In particular, that Per Mertesacker was forced to play for over 120 minutes will not have pleased the Arsenal boss.
Arsenal’s options are particularly thin on the ground at center-back, where there is just Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen as established options. It is thought that Wenger was looking at players to strengthen his back line in the summer and he could now have the encouragement to move for a long-time target.
Adil Rami has become persona non grata at Valencia after he criticized the club, manager Miroslav Djukic and his teammates. Reacting to the latest raft of player departures that has led to a poor start to the season, Rami wasn’t pulling any punches.
“We have lost important players this year like [David] Albelda, [Roberto] Soldado and Tino [Costa]. Now, in the dressing room we only have teacher's pets who don't speak to your face,” he said, according to Spanish sports daily Marca.
Unsurprisingly, the comments have not been received well at the Mestalla. The France international has been suspended without pay by the club, with Valencia minded that he will never play for them again, reports Marca.
Rami has since said that he disagrees with the sanctions and wants to resolve the matter. Still, the situation could well interest Wenger, who may hope to land the 27-year-old in a knockdown deal in January.
There are also reports that Arsenal are interested in Austria Under-21 defender Martin Hinteregger. The left-footed Red Bull Salzburg player is primarily a central defender but has also operated at left-back. And Talksport reports that the 21-year-old’s performances have caught the eye of the Gunners, as well as Liverpool and Juventus.
Arsenal are also said to hold an interest in Barcelona right-back Martin Montoya. The 22-year-old’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and his agent recently revealed that his remaining at the Camp Nou was far from certain. With Montoya continuing to remain behind Daniel Alves, and even on occasion Adriano in the pecking order, he may look for more regular first-team action elsewhere.
There are thought to be a number of clubs interested and Talksport now claims that Napoli have joined that list. It is said that manager Rafael Benitez hopes that Napoli’s recent Spanish signings will help persuade Montoya to make the move.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are claimed to be one of a number of clubs monitoring the situation of another Spaniard. Juan Mata’s frosty treatment by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has surely not gone unnoticed at some of the biggest sides across Europe. Indeed, the Daily Mail reports that the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia are interested in taking the attacking midfielder back to Spain, while Arsenal and Manchester United would be keen to keep him in the Premier League.
Wenger’s interest in Mata is well known, having tried to sign him before he joined Chelsea from Valencia in 2011. Whether he is still as keen, given the recent signing of Mesut Ozil to team up with Santi Cazorla, may be a different matter, however.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.