New names are emerging for Arsenal as they seek replacements for the probable departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and as the season opener against Newcastle looms on Saturday at St. James' Park.
Fabregas is set to depart for Barcelona in a £35 million deal, while Manchester City has offered £25 million for Nasri, giving Arsene Wenger a combined £60 million to find up-and-coming midfielders to fill the void.
The most prominent name to surface is Juan Mata. The Valencia winger was offered a deal in July, but was rejected, though all indications pointed to more negotiations.
Mata would be an able replacement for Nasri. The 23-year-old's style would likely fit well in Wenger's system. Mata is a very creative player, and he's given hints that he wants to play at Emirates.
There still is no word about Belgium star Eden Hazard. The speedy 20-year-old Lille midfielder is perhaps the best young player in Europe. Hazard's estimated value is £20 million, which might be an enormous bargain considering his potential, but there has been no mention of his possible move to Emirates in recent days. Hazard should probably be considered the top Arsenal target.
Instead, new and somewhat curious names have surfaced in the wake of the likely exits of Fabregas and Nasri.
Daily Star reported that Arsenal are mulling a £12 million bid for Russian attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev. Arsenal have had scouts monitoring the 21-year-old CSKA Moscow star. Wigan are shopping for a forward as Arsenal might be targeting Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega, says Daily Mirror. The 26-year-old has scored 22 goals for Wigan in 89 appearances.
Arsenal are also showing interest in FC Twente striker Bryan Ruiz, reports Daily Mail. Ruiz is almost 26, and Arsenal has already considered adding fellow Costa Rican Joel Campbell.
The forward position may still need another big name to go along with Robin van Persie and Gervinho, but Rodallega, Ruiz, and Campbell probably fall short of what Arsenal needs at the moment. The Gunners currently need superstar talent like Karim Benzema, not potential stars like Campbell, or merely solid players like Rodallega and Ruiz.
ESPN reports that Arsenal are stepping up efforts to add centre back Scott Dann.
Of the many centre backs who Arsenal have targeted this summer, Dann would probably be the least expensive at about £10 million. There appears to be better options at the position, such as Per Mertesacker, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, and Christopher Samba.
Fabregas and Nasri will almost definitely not be on the Arsenal squad on Saturday. Arsenal need to act quickly, and start shopping for elite talent.
Mata, Hazard, and Mertesacker are three realistic players that Arsenal can add. It's very possible that the Gunners will be better without a distracted Fabregas, and an injury-prone Nasri. New blood might be exactly what Arsenal need to challenge Manchester United.
This should be a tense, but exciting, few days at Emirates.