Arsene Wenger has stated he is “not close” to another signing, as he described his difficulties trying to bolster his Arsenal squad ahead of the close of the summer transfer window. Arsenal have so far added only Petr Cech to their ranks this summer, and now have less than two weeks before the window shuts on Sept. 1.
But, while expressing that he is still in the market for a new arrival, he was far from bullish about the prospects of getting a deal over the line.
“We expect like you [to make a signing], but at the moment we are not close,” he at his press conference ahead of Monday’s encounter with Liverpool.
“It is difficult because there’s more money in football, more clubs with big resources and less players available so I would say the funds are there more than the players who can strengthen your squad. And that’s a big problem, because people know that you have the resources and they want you to buy players from clubs who do not need the resources and are not necessarily wanting to sell.”
One of the players Wenger could have been referencing is Karim Benzema. Arsenal’s striking department has been seen as one of the areas particularly in need of strengthening, and Benzema’s name has consistently surfaced with a potential move to the Emirates Stadium this summer. The speculation has heated up in recent days, with claims from various, but largely unconvincing, sources that a £48-million transfer is nearing completion.
Despite all the chatter, Benzema would seem to fit perfectly into Wenger’s description of being at a club with no need or reason to sell. There has been talk that new Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez both intends to field Cristiano Ronaldo as a center forward and is keen to bring in another striker, but at this stage of the transfer window it would be a risk to sanction Benzema’s departure. The opportunities to get a striker of equal or greater quality are close to non-existent, with Madrid’s long-standing target Sergio Aguero not on the market. There is the fact, too, that, despite not always being beloved by the Bernabeu fans, Benzema is very much a favorite of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Arsenal could have more joy moving for another Real Madrid player they have been linked to this week. According to Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo, Arsenal are one of a number of clubs to have expressed an interest in midfielder Asier Illarramendi. The 25-year-old has failed to nail down a regular place since joining for 30 million euros (£21.7 million) from Real Sociedad two summers ago, and his future has been called into greater question by the recent arrival of Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan.
Arsenal could certainly do with added cover in the deep-lying midfield role, with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini unconvincing alternatives to Francis Coquelin. Illarramendi may not be an ideal option to occupy the role, however. While an adept passer, Illarramendi has often looked flustered when put under pressure and may struggle to cope in the higher-tempo, more physical Premier League.
And Arsenal do not look to be at the front of the queue for his signature. Marca reports that Real Sociedad are pushing hard for a loan move, while Liverpool have already tabled a 15 million euros (£10.9 million) offer.