In what is expected to be one of the slower transfer sessions in recent years for manager Arsene Wenger, two potential targets have made the rounds in the British press this week as Arsenal look to contend against Premier League champions Chelsea next season with an improved squad.
Adding a world-class defensive midfielder is considered a top priority this summer with the expected departure of veteran Mathieu Flamini, and Arsenal are expected to pursue Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin. But there may be plenty of competition to land the French defensive midfielder, particularly from Manchester United, so Wenger may have to seek alternatives should a bidding war spike Southampton’s asking price.
Geoffrey Kondogbia may be on Wenger’s short list after Schneiderlin. Daily Mirror reported that Arsenal will battle with Inter Milan for Kondogbia’s services, and that the Monaco star is valued at £25 million. That is probably an inflated price for a player who has just three caps for France, but Kondogbia is considered a valued commodity.
Wenger got a chance to get a look at Kondogbia when Monaco faced Arsenal in May in the Champions League Round of 16, as well as in an August preseason match. The 22-year-old previously played for Lens and Sevilla before joining Monaco in the summer of 2013, with Arsenal reportedly also showing interest at the time. Earlier this year, Liverpool were reportedly showing interest in Kondogbia, as well.
Wenger has shown a preference for French defensive midfielders in recent years, with Flamini and current starter Francis Coquelin on the current roster. In previous seasons, Remi Garde, Emmanuel Petit and Abou Diaby have also played the position.
While Schneiderlin likely remains the main choice to take the starting defensive midfielder role, Arsenal may also consider adding his Saints teammate. According to Daily Mail, Victor Wanyama, who had been linked to the Gunners in March, told Kenyan TV that "it would be nice to move to Arsenal."
The 23-year-old added: "But at this moment such decisions can only be made by Southampton and that is where my concentration as a player is."
Wanyama is considered a stable force for Southampton and Kenya. He also has displayed exceptional touch and poise, two important traits for the position. In Southampton’s last meeting with Arsenal on New Year’s Day, Wanyama was in fine form, and at one point easily dispossessed a streaking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Wanyama joined Southampton in 2013 on a fee of roughly £12.5 million from Celtic. At the moment, there are no other reported clubs competing with Arsenal for his signature. Wanyama’s contract expires in June 2017.