Arsenal’s check book has yet to be called into action in the January transfer window, but there is increasing speculation that there will be new arrivals at the Emirates Stadium before the month is out. Clear deficiencies have been exposed in Arsenal’s squad during a tough first half of the season, with manager Arsene Wenger remarking at different stages that he is in need of reinforcing his defense and the center of his midfield. According to a fresh rumor on Wednesday, Arsenal could solve both issues by shopping at one club.
The Daily Star has reported that Arsenal are readying a bumper double transfer for Borussia Dortmund duo Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels. It is not difficult to see why Arsenal would be keen on both players. Hummels, a key member of Germany’s World Cup winning team last summer, is rated as one of Europe’s best center-backs and has the quality on the ball to fit seamlessly into Wenger’s passing style. He is not the quickest, but, if paired alongside the pacey Laurent Koscielny, that would not be a major issue. Gundogan, meanwhile, was one of the most promising central midfielders around before a back injury essentially sidelined him for the entirety of last season. But he is now back fit and, with a contract that expires in less than 18 months, his future is far from secure.
There is, however, likely little chance of either joining during the January transfer window. Hummels has been strongly linked with Manchester United, and they could well have the financial clout to out-muscle the Gunners. Gundogan, too, has also reportedly attracted the interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs and Arsenal would likely face strong competition for the 24-year-old’s signature. More than either of those factors, though, Dortmund will be extremely reluctant sellers in January, when they face a Bundesliga relegation battle in the second half of the season and are still in the Champions League. And Hummels continues to give no suggestion that he will push for a transfer away.
“I have always decided not to leave,” he said. “I think I have made some good decisions and I want to make those in the future as well. I have never said I will stay until 2024 or 2030 or whenever. But I have stayed until today. I will stick to my way of not promising anything and maybe leave someday instead of saying I will stay forever and then leave all of a sudden. I am not really known as a globetrotter. I have been with two clubs in 26 years. Loyalty is important to me.”
Wenger, too, rarely does major business in the January transfer window, and is all too aware that prices are generally pushed higher at this time of the year. Instead, he appears to be going after younger targets. A deal for Legia Warsaw’s 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik is thought to be close and the Daily Mail has now reported that Arsenal are nearing a deal for Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marcelo Brozović. The Gunners have long been linked with the 22-year-old Croatia international and it is said that a £6 million bid has been lodged.
There appears a much slimmer chance of another reported young target arriving. Given Arsenal’s wealth of options in attacking areas that has seen Wenger allow Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo to leave on loan this month, there is little possibility of the club spending big on a forward. And Palermo have now insisted that it will take a huge offer for them to part with Paulo Dybala. The Argentinian 21-year-old has scored nine goals in 17 Serie A appearances this season and is said to be drawing interest from Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.
“Dybala is a world class player who is being compared to [Paris Saint-Germain and former Palermo attacking midfielder] Javier Pastore,” Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini told Sky Italia. “Hence, his price tag matches the skill: we are talking 40million euros and upwards. So far offers for him have only come in obliquely because they know how tough I can be [when negotiating].”