When pictures first started emerging of Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis in Nice several days ago, to tumultuous stories of £100 million bids, you could have been forgiven for thinking that some sort of announcement was imminent. And yet, despite the palpable excitement, there has been a lull in the news, dutifully filled by rampant speculation from the fans and the media. Due to Arsene Wenger’s “under wraps” style of hammering out transfers in private, the lack of updates has given space for several damaging departure rumours to pop up around the club. If Wenger is unable to hold on to his best players this summer, any acquisitions could do little more than help the club tread water. Keeping important 1st team players will be essential to ensuring Arsenal can compete for the Premier League crown next season.
I know, I know, everyone is talking about this potential move, and with very good reason. He is immensely talented, and every day brings about stories of his possible signing for a new world record fee. It has been reported that Arsenal have launched an improved bid after having their £86 million bid swatted away, including much more in the initial payment than what Real Madrid had allegedly proposed in sir own, unconfirmed bids. With the player’s future most likely to be settled shortly after he returns from international duty, Arsene Wenger will be spending day and night trying to hammer out terms for the youngster. It remains to be seen whether Wenger is forced to move on to another striker/goalscorer due to Mbappe’s stratospheric price, but it seems pretty clear that Wenger is not ready to give up on him just yet.
One piece of news that was officially confirmed this week was that Sead Kolasinac signed for Arsenal on a free transfer from Schalke. The burly defender was announced in a cheeky tweeted trivia message to the fans. Built like a stone wall, Kolasinac has the physically for the Premier League, as well as a willingness to engage in battles for the ball. As a fit in Arsenal’s first team, he possesses far more natural defending ability than either of the club’s current players at the same position. Perhaps not quite as polished going forward so much as he is willing to do so, Kolasinac contributed 7 goals and 9 assists across all competitions last season, tallies the would best both current incumbents significantly.
Other Arrival Rumours
Since Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis went to France, the transfer rumours swirling around the club started homing in on a few key targets. There were reports yesterday claiming that a Arsenal have put their bid for Mbappe on hold to try and figure out what it might take to finally pry long term target, Alexandre Lacazette, away from Lyon. By comparison, his reported £50 million price tag is a relative bargain compared to his younger compatriot’s. As a player that many fans here have been clamouring for, it could be interesting to see how much excitement his signing could bring to the club.
Elsewhere, another popular rumour, fed in part by the manager’s French Riviera visit, Jean Michael Seri has emerged as another popular target. He and fellow young gun Wylan Cyprien have played a huge role in keeping Nice’s centre midfield ticking over. The French youngster has serious game in the centre of the park, being adept at firing passes all over the pitch with pinpoint precision. He is being viewed by many as a replacement for Santi Cazorla, possessing many of the same qualities as the diminutive Spaniard. Though his is a recent name in transfer rumour circles, reputable sources have been very matter of fact in stating Arsenal’s interest.
A less credible rumour doing the rounds again this summer has been talk of James Rodriguez possibly joining the Gunners. As a talent, there is no questioning James ability, however, questions over his attitude and commitment should raise some major red flags for a club that is not short on talent, but rather it is a winning mentality that many perceive to be lacking in the Arsenal squad. Signing another inconsistent player with questions about his motivation could prove to be a costly mistake, particularly given the sort of financial outlay his acquisition would require. I put his move in the same category as Arda Turan: no thank you, unless there are no other, better options.
Finally, another target highlighted in the first Transfer Monger post from Monday is winger/striker Henry Onyekuru. The young Nigerian was quoted earlier this week as having spoken to international teammate Alex Iwobi about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. The precocious young talent reported hearing only good things from his star (in the context of the Nigerian National Team) teammate. The more I see from this young man, the more I like him. He is a fluid customer, able to take the ball anywhere on the pitch he wants with his pace and ball handing abilities. It goes without question that his biggest flaw is his teamwork, as watching him play is reminiscent of Alexis at his most selfish. It seems, according to some, as though Arsenal are very much in the driver’s seat for his services after he returns from international duty.
Huge Departure Rumours
With the slow down of news espousing new Arsenal transfer targets this week, the news has been devoted instead to two major potential departures: Hector Bellerin and Alexis Sanchez.
According to many outlets, Bellerin is ready to leave Arsenal for Barcelona in a £40 million deal. The problem with this report is that it originates in a story in which Bellerin describes how his family have moved back to the Catalan region of Spain. He goes on to say that them leaving London is difficult on him due to his close relationship with them. Many saw the opportunity to twist these words into something far more definitive in its assertion that he does indeed want to return to his boyhood club. This is the latest in a never ending stream of Bellerin to a Barcelona stories, all of which look plausible until the moment they are thoroughly squashed. I believe that this instance is no different.
The other major departure rumour is, of course, the ever enigmatic Alexis Sanchez, either to Bayern Munich or Manchester City. In both cases, the basis for this “logic” is easily traceable: the Bayern Rumours started because of Arturo Vidal’s comments in Chile claiming that Alexis needs to leave Arsenal for a “big club” and the one he plays for is as good as any. This rumour states that Vidal has been aggressively tapping up Sanchez for the move for quite a while now. It remains to be seen how much pull the midfielder has over his countryman though, as Sanchez, for his part, has been quite mum on the subject.
The final departure rumour, and it is a nasty one, is that Alexis is in his way to joining Manchester City for a paltry £20-25 million. Besides the absolute joke of a figure, there is no possible way that Arsene Wenger would sell his best player to a league rival. To suggest that Arsenal are a seller club in this day and age is simply not true. Additionally, Pep Guardiola and Alexis Sanchez did not enjoy the most loving of relationships at Barcelona, with the Chilean’s, shoot first, shoot second, shoot third, pass fourth style a clash with the selfless flowing football of the era for Barcelona. My final reason for taking this rumour with a shaker full of salt is that Sanchez, though a ruthless competitor, does not seem like that type to take a club allegence lightly, leaving for a rival over a few thousand pounds a week and one place in the standings.
Are there any rumours out there that have caught your eye? Any players you would love to see in an Arsenal kit next season? Let us know, and tune in Sunday for another Transfer Monger Update!