For Arsene Wenger, Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Swansea City will have been a particularly tough watch. Not only was there the sight of the goalkeeper he let get away last summer, Lukasz Fabianski, putting in a man-of-the-match display to repeatedly thwart his side, but then the keeper Wenger brought in as a replacement, David Ospina, reacted a touch to slow as Swansea scored a late-game winner. Those events have only fueled reports that Wenger will look to bolster his options between the posts in this summer’s transfer window.
Fabianski’s exit on a free transfer was thought to signal that Wojciech Szczesny would go onto to confirm his place as the club’s long-time No. 1. But, while Wenger has often talked up the 25-year-old’s potential, Szczesny has failed to display the consistency required of a top-level goalkeeper. In response, Wenger promoted Ospina, signed from Nice last summer, to first-choice since the start of 2015. The Colombian’s introduction to the team has brought calm to the defense and coincided with Arsenal’s fine run of form, yet there remains a feeling that Arsenal require an upgrade if they are to challenge the very best in England and Europe.
Publicly, Wenger has disputed this belief and recently stated he was happy with his options. Yet the fact that there is one of the world’s very best goalkeepers on the market could alter that thinking. The Daily Telegraph now reports that Arsenal have made Chelsea’s Petr Cech a top target, with the 32-year-old’s future hinging on whether Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will allow him to move to a leading Premier League rival. Cech has made it clear he is unwilling to spend another season as backup to Thibaut Courtois, and, given his 11 years of service at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea would be expected to oblige him in his desire for a transfer. However, they could yet persuade him to move abroad. Earlier this week, Cech’s agent revealed there had been talks with Besiktas over a transfer to the Turkish club.
Another area of Arsenal’s squad Wenger might consider upgrading this summer is the defensive midfield slot. It has long been a problem position for the club, although the emergence of Francis Coquelin after his return from a loan spell at Charlton may yet persuade Wenger into believing he has found a long-term solution. And that may well be why it looks like Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira is headed for Schalke rather than the Emirates Stadium. It appeared that the World Cup winner was keen on a transfer to Arsenal last summer, but the Gunners failed to offer a strong enough financial package. His contract is set to expire at the Bernabeu at the end of the season, but Schalke have disclosed that they think he is headed back to the Bundesliga.
Khedira is not the only Germany international midfielder to have been linked with a transfer to Arsenal. Having refused to sign an extension to a contract that expires in 2016, Ilkay Gundogan is set to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer if a club satisfies the Bundesliga outfit’s demands. Manchester United have been strongly linked with the 24-year-old, who has returned from more than a year out with injury this season. Yet, according to a story in the Daily Mail, Arsenal have made contact with Gundogan’s family over a potential move. His technical ability and tenacity would make him an ideal candidate for the Gunners’ midfield, although it remains to be seen whether they will be prepared to pay what it takes to beat off the substantial competition.
Elsewhere there continue to be rumors about the future of Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling and a possible transfer to Arsenal. The 20-year-old conducted an interview last month in which he stated that he had rejected a new contract offer from Liverpool and was flattered by Arsenal’s reported interest. Now the Daily Mail reports that Sterling is preparing to sell his house on Merseyside and look for a property in London, suggesting a move south to Arsenal or Chelsea. Yet any transfer remains a long way off. With Sterling having a contract until 2017, Liverpool will be under no obligation to sell this summer. There is also no history of Arsenal paying the huge fee it would take to prize Sterling, a player whose value is still based more on potential than realization, away from Liverpool.