Arsenal look set to face serious competition should they pursue their long-held interest in Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. The Gunners were linked to the 23-year-old through much of the summer, while Milan are said to have been in advanced negotiations with the Ligue 1 side.
Yanga-Mbiwa’s list of admirers has now been added to by Catalan giants Barcelona, according to Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo. The report claims that Barcelona sent scouts to watch the center-back in action during Montpellier’s Champions League defeat to Arsenal last week. Certainly the Spanish side’s need for a central defender is apparent with injuries to Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol forcing the club to lineup with a partnership of Javier Mascherano and former Gunners midfielder Alex Song at the weekend.
While Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would seem to be a big fan of Yanga-Mbiwa, the Gunners no longer have a pressing need for a central defender. Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker have formed a strong partnership to start the season, while Laurent Koscielny showed over the last campaign that he can excel in the Premier League.
The Times’ Rory Smith recently commented in Life’s a Pitch that, while a deal appears unlikely in January, there is a reasonable chance of the France international arriving next summer.
After Arsenal sold Song to Barcelona last month there was strong speculation that a defensive midfielder could arrive before the end of the transfer window. While that didn’t materialize, a new potential target has emerged for January, in Zenit St Petersburg’s Igor Denisov.
TalkSport claims that Arsenal—along with Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool—are monitoring the Russia international’s situation after he was forced to play with the youth team at Zenit. The punishment was a response to Zenit captain Denisov’s criticism of the high salaries being paid to new signings Hulk and Axel Witsel.
The 28-year-old would appear an unlikely target for Wenger given his age and the fact that he has never played outside Russia.
Another surprise target for Arsenal has been reported on Tuesday in the form of AGF Aarhus forward Aron Johannsson. The 21-year-old was born in the United States to Icelandic parents and has spent the vast majority of his life in Iceland. After moving to Danish football Johannsson was converted from a winger into a striker has been a sensation this season having scored nine goals in his last four games in the Danish Super League.
The Iceland Under-21 international’s form has now caught the attention of the Gunners, according to the Sun.
There has also been further speculation about Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna. The 29-year-old’s future was recently called into question after he criticized the sale of Alex Song, quickly following that of Robin van Persie.
With the France international in the final two years of his contract, the Daily Mail claims that Inter Milan are poised to make a move should a new deal not be agreed.