Arsenal fans may soon be getting an unsettling feeling of déjà vu with reports suggesting that Gonzalo Higuain is poised to complete a move to Napoli. The Real Madrid striker has been pursued strongly by Arsene Wenger, so much so that personal terms were even agreed, but the Gunners weren’t prepared to raise their offer above around £23 million. Napoli, though, appear to have no such hesitations and have agreed a €37 million (£31.8m) fee with a potential €3 million (£2.6m) in add-ons, according to Spanish sports daily AS.
There may yet be hope for the Gunners, with another Spanish publication Marca claiming that Higuain is still holding out hope that Arsenal improve their bid. But it seems implausible that Wenger will sanction such a large increase on the offer that has so far been tabled. For many supporters it will doubtless be deeply frustrating to potentially lose out on another target of real quality due to an unwillingness to rival their competitors financially. Yet, in this case at least, there is a strong argument to be made that Wenger is acting shrewdly in not matching what is a somewhat extraordinary offer from Napoli, a club flush from an even more staggering transfer that saw Edinson Cavani leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.
It is Arsenal’s misfortune that they are armed with significant funds for the first time in several years in a summer where the transfer market has exploded onto a new level due to the wealth injected by the nouveau-riches like Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. If Higuain does join Napoli then Arsenal will fast be running out of options to upgrade their attack. Arsenal have already had a bid knocked back for Luis Suarez and are likely to face competition from Real Madrid for the Uruguayan once Higuain departs.
There is also the small matter of persuading Liverpool to sell. Brendan Rodgers has reiterated that the Gunners’ £30 million bid fell a long way short of his club’s valuation and that they have no intention of selling the want-away 26-year-old.
"Yes, very much so," Rodgers said, according to Sky Sports, when asked if he expected Suarez to still be at Liverpool next season. "There's been a lot of speculation over the course of the close season but the reality is that he's a player who is very much valued at Liverpool and unless there's any sort of offer that comes in that's anywhere near his value, there's nothing to consider. We haven't had that."
According to French publication L’Equipe on Monday, Arsenal were posed to complete their first major signing of the summer with a deal agreed in principal for Atletico Mineiro attacking midfielder Bernard. Wenger quickly dismissed the speculation, while the Brazil international has refused to discuss such talk until after his side play the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia on Wednesday.
“I don't want to talk about this in a week as important as this one," he said, according to Globo Esporte. "I want to talk about the game and I don't want to be impolite or ignore it in any way. I don't know what will happen after the game. My future at Atletico Mineiro will be in the board's hands from Thursday onwards."
In Arsenal’s attempts to recruit an experienced goalkeeper this summer, Queens Park Rangers’ Julio Cesar is believed to have been identified as a prime target. However, there has been little progress on a transfer. Metro believes the reason behind the lack of movement is the Gunners instructing the 33-year-old that he’ll need to take a pay cut to move to the Emirates. While the former Inter Milan stopper is known to be on high wages at Loftus Road, Metro’s claim that Arsenal are unwilling to offer more than £30,000 a week for Brazil’s No. 1 appears somewhat extraordinary.