Even if Arsenal are to win the race to sign Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha this month, fans are not likely to see him in a Gunners shirt until next season.
Arsenal, along with fellow suitors Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, have been told by Palace that any deal to sign the 20-year-old should include an arrangement for the player to be loaned back to the Championship club until the end of the season, according to the Guardian.
All four clubs are believed to have already been in contact with Palace about signing Zaha, who could be available for between £10 million and £15 million. The Guardian reports that Palace will also seek to secure two or three players on loan from the buying club.
It may well come as a blow to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger if he is unable to bring Zaha into the club immediately. The Gunners’ options out wide will be depleted when Gervinho goes off to the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast later this month.
TalkSport recently reported, though, that Arsenal no longer maintain an interest in Zaha due to the progress being made over Theo Walcott’s contract renewal. Walcott, who has lately been granted his wish to play as a center forward, has recently spoken positively about staying at the club beyond the expiration of his deal at the end of the season. Wenger has now confirmed that talks are ongoing.
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“We are talking,” Wenger said in a press conference on Thursday.
"It is very difficult to be predictable in these kinds of situations but I always said that our desire is there to do it as quickly as possible. We are ready to do it.
"I only speak for our side, and my side is that we want him to stay here.
"Of course I don't want to speak much more about that situation because it can be misinterpreted and I don't think he is only interested by money. I don't believe that."
Regardless of Walcott’s situation, it is believed that Wenger would like to bring in another forward this month. There has been speculation of late of a surprise move for Barcelona’s David Villa and Spanish publication Marca have claimed that the 31-year-old wants to leave the Camp Nou in the current transfer window.
Villa has featured only sparingly for the La Liga leaders this season following his return from a broken leg. According to Marca, Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova does not believe that the man who is Spain’s all-time leading scorer is at the same level as before the injury he suffered in December 2011.
The story states that both Arsenal and Liverpool have expressed an interest in Villa, although Barcelona would only accept an offer that was too good to refuse in January.
There has also been further news about long-time reported Arsenal target Yann M’Vila. The Rennes defensive midfielder was strongly linked with the Gunners in the summer, although Wenger is believed to have been discouraged from making a move due to the player’s disciplinary problems.
Recent speculation has claimed that Arsenal could rekindle their interest and the 22-year-old has hinted that he is ready to move.
"I am at Rennes at the moment so let's see what happens," M’Vila said, according to Sky Sports.
"If the club receive a good offer and I like the destination then I will go, there is no doubt about that.
"Until that happens, nothing can be said."