Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is targeting younger and cheaper alternatives to Everton's £23 million-rated midfield destroyer Marouane Fellaini. The Gunners chief is instead rumored to be working on deals for youngsters Gilbert Imbula and Bernard Malanda-Adje.
This rumor seems typical of Wenger. Rather than pay the hefty price tag attached to one player, the Frenchman is trying to acquire multiple players for similar value.
That policy may enrage some Arsenal fans, but it is fiscally prudent. Reports in The Daily Mirror suggest Wenger is put off by the £23 million demanded for Fellaini.
While that is reasonable, Wenger knows his current Arsenal squad still needs greater power in the middle. Another report from The Mirror indicates that Guingamp prodigy Imbula is Wenger's target and he is working on an £8 million deal.
In one way, it is easy to read this is narrative as mischief making from the UK tabloids. The Mirror could be cynically capitalizing on the anxieties of Gunners fans who are expecting big investment this summer.
Running a story about Wenger refusing to pay Fellaini's price, next to his attempts to bid for another unproven youth, will rile those who believe Arsenal's manager is scared to spend big.
While these are all easy assumptions to make, it is not the first time Arsenal have been linked with Imbula. Back in January, The Daily Mail suggested the Gunners were interested in the 20-year-old.
Imbula fits the mold of the type of midfielder Arsenal are missing. He is rugged and athletic and would be a natural fit as a deep-lying defensive presence at the base of the midfield.
The same is also true of Malanda-Adje. Sportsdirectnews.com is running Arsenal's interest in the player as an "exclusive."
The 18-year-old is considering a fast-rising prospect and has also drawn the interest of Manchester United. He has even been adorned with the label the "new Fellaini."
Malanda-Adje is exactly the kind of young unknown Wenger often swoops for. While that might excite some, many others might feel that the Gunners boss should no longer be risking youthful potential.
This has long been advertised as the summer where Arsenal will finally pay the fees to land established, marquee talent. The kind of ready-made stars they will likely need to credibly compete against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
However, this just does not seem like the Wenger way. His belief in using his resources more selectively and seeking maximum value is unlikely to suddenly wane.
Neither, it seems, will his faith in building a contender on a foundation of promising youngsters.