There are few encouraging signs for Arsenal's hopes to keep star midfielder Samir Nasri.
According to British tabloids, the 24-year-old French playmaker is apparently not interested in an extension with Arsenal after rejecting a new £115,000-a-week deal with the club, and has his sights set on leaving London to play for either Manchester United or Manchester City.
Of course, Arsene Wenger can offer Nasri to clubs outside the Premier League. Inter Milan, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich were all interested in Nasri in the spring. Nasri only has one year left on his contract, and it makes sense for Wenger to shop his starting midfielder to get something in return -- particularly if it's outside the EPL.
The fee that Arsenal would receive from Nasri could be used to help land a player like Wesley Sneijder -- a midfielder that has a similar skill set to former Gunner Marc Overmars. Meanwhile, neither Barcelona nor Arsenal appear to be budging in a deal for Cesc Fabregas.
With Nasri and Fabregas the subject of so much speculation, Arsenal's midfield has become an unneccessary distraction. Wenger went into the summer transfer period seeking a central defender, a striker to partner with Robin van Persie, perhaps a left back for the absence of Gael Clichy, and maybe even an upgrade at goalkeeper.
Adding young left back Carl Jenkinson and forward Gervinho hardly address major concerns. The most important need is central defense, and Wenger knows it.
"Certainly, we will have to find one more defender," said Wenger, recently. "We [are] working on it.
Rumours have floated for several weeks that Arsenal was interested in Phil Jagielka, as well as a few other central defenders: Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba, and Scott Dann. Jagielka appeared to be the main target, since Arsenal offered him a contract (though it was well short of what Everton feel he's worth), and not the others.
It's not as though Jagielka or the other candidates are of such quality that Arsenal's fortunes will completely turn around with any of the players added to the squad. There is no Sol Campbell in the bunch, and with the Gunners lacking in superstar talent in other areas, adding a non-superstar in an area like central defense points to larger problems for Wenger.
Should Arsenal lose both Nasri and Fabregas, will Wenger be able to swoop in and land Sneijder and another star midfielder, while still having the funds to address central defense, and an upgrade at forward?
Arsenal may already have some money to shop with after loaning midfielder Denilson. The Daily Mail reported that Turkish club Galatasaray have bid £4 milllion for defender Emmanuel Eboue. Also, young Arsenal forward Jay Emmanuel-Thomas could be on the move to Ipswich for a £1.1 million, according to the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror also reports that Arsenal have shown renewed interest in promising forward Romelu Lukaku of Belgium. The 18-year-old is a Chelsea target, but Wenger remains keen on the striker after having shown interest back in January.
The 2011-2012 season starts against Newcastle United on August 13 at St. James Park.