Quelling talk that Arsenal would be losing its two most valued midfielders, Arsene Wenger went public with his stance that Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas won't be leaving the club.
I expect Samir Nasri to stay, Wenger said, according to ESPN. There is always speculation, but he is committed to the club right now. You asked me two different questions. One, 'will he be at the club this season?' I say yes. The second part, 'Will he sign a new contract?' I hope yes.
The comment comes at about the same time as a Sunday report in The Times that Nasri was on his way to Manchester City on a £22.2 million transfer.
Fabregas also appears to be staying with the club and not on his way to Barcelona, according to Wenger. More than likely, Barcelona wasn't giving Arsenal a fair amount for the playmaker.
Wenger didn't surprise anyone when he also said forward Nicklas Bendtner and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia were both likely to be on their way out. Almunia, in particular, has proven to be expendable based on multiple miscues and just a general lack of confidence in his overall play. However, there has been little talk about upgrading goalkeeper, so Wenger appears to be content with Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, and third-stringer Vito Mannone.
As for 24-year-old winger Gervinho, Wenger announced he has been signed to the club. In a summer where Arsenal was expected to make several additions, Gervinho is the first major one.
The Ivory Coast star scored six goals in 27 appearaces for his home country, and 28 goals in 67 appearances for Lille. The Gunners desperately needed a forward to pair with Robin van Persie, and perhaps they found that player in Gervinho.
Meanwhile, multiple publications have recently linked another winger, Aston Villa's Stewart Downing, to Arsenal. The asking price for the 26-year-old Middlesbrough native is expected to be £20 million.
Up-and-coming Southampton winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was expected to be arriving at Emirates, but there has been little discussion about his status in the past two weeks.
Wenger tends to target players in their early 20s or younger like Oxlade-Chamberlain, and not players in their mid-20s like Gervinho and Downing, which perhaps signals somewhat of a shift in strategy this off-season.
Defenders Gary Cahill, 25, and Christopher Samba, 27, also continue to be on Wenger's radar. Central defense became a major headache last season after Thomas Vermaelen missed most of the season due to injury, and it's almost certain that Wenger will add a high-profiled defender, especially with the departure of left back Gael Clichy to Manchester City.
Other options in defense include Scott Dann, Jose Enrique, Leighton Baines, and Aly Cissokho. An intriguing possibility is Ajax's Jan Vertonghen, who is a teammate of Vermaelen with Belgium. The 24-year-old Vertonghen can play both centre back and defensive midfielder.
It's possible that reserve Armand Traore will have a larger role on the club in 2011-2012. Kieran Gibbs is expected to be the starting left back, but the young England star has struggled with injuries. The 21-year-old Traore, who spent time last season with Juventus, may step in if Gibbs is hampered by injury, or is ineffective.