Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has dismissed reports that the club will sign Newcastle striker Demba Ba in January’s transfer window. There has been mounting speculation in recent weeks that the Gunners would turn to the Senegal international as they seek more firepower to secure a top four place at the end of the season.
But, ahead of Arsenal’s meeting with Newcastle on Saturday, Wenger has said that Ba will not be switching clubs.
"I like Demba Ba, yes," Wenger said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "I don’t think this is the right place to speak about that, because he plays against us tomorrow.
"I wouldn’t like to put Newcastle or us or him in an uncomfortable position. If you ask me 'Do we sign Demba Ba?' I say no.”
Ba is thought likely to depart Tyneside next month due to a £7 million release clause in his contract.
Arsenal have been quoted more than double that price for another forward reported to be on Wenger’s radar. According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal have been told by Barcelona that David Villa will be available for €20 million (£16.4m).
With Villa struggling to cement a regular place in the Barcelona lineup since a return from a broken leg at the start of the season, a move away from the Camp Nou has been strongly mooted in recent days. Chelsea are also said to be monitoring the situation. However, reports from Spain have claimed that neither Barcelona nor Villa are keen for a move in January, with the situation likely to be reevaluated next summer.
The fee reportedly quoted is unlikely to be met by Arsenal with the 31-year-old. As the Mail suggests, Wenger would likely prefer to add Villa by loan until the end of the season.
Arsenal will not have to worry about a transfer fee should they decide to pursue their reported interest in Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby. While the German international’s teammate—and another man linked to Arsenal—Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, recently agreed a new contract, Holtby has announced that he will be leaving when his deal expires at the end of the season.
"We had hoped that Lewis saw his future at Schalke beyond the end of the season,” said Schalke board member Horst Heldt. “But, like Klaas Jan, he has made a personal decision that we respect. We are sure he will give everything between now and the end of the season."
Holtby, who has an English father, has previously talked of his admiration for Arsenal’s playing style.
There has also been a surprising report that Arsenal have renewed their interest in Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila. The Gunners were repeatedly linked to the France international throughout the summer, but it is believed the 22-year-old’s disciplinary issues both on and off the pitch persuaded Wenger against a deal. M’Vila has since been banned from playing for all French national teams until after the 2014 World Cup due to an unauthorized night out while on duty with the Under-21 side.
But citing reports in France, Metro now states that Arsenal have been offered a cut-price deal by a third-party agent.