Backpage Roundup: Wilshere Targets Strong Start, Swansea’s Williams Nearing Arsenal Move, Monteiro Leaving, Jovetic Staying, Chamakh and More

Wilshere Targets Strong Start For Title Challenge

Jack Wilshere feels that Arsenal should hit the ground running next season in order to mount a serious title challenge for the first time since 1997/98.

The Gunners have the fourth-lowest odds to win the 2013/13 Barclays Premier League title, according to several worldwide online sports betting companies. Their three top rivals – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea – will all have new managers at the helm next season, which makes them somewhat vulnerable and gives Arsenal a slight advantage.

But that edge resulting from managerial stability would count for nothing if they continue with their trend of starting poorly, and therefore, Wilshere has urged his teammates to be at their best from day one next term.

In an interview with Arsenal Player, the 21-year-old midfielder said: “The games earlier on don’t decide our season but we have got to think that we have to win them, because that is what champions do.

“The likes of Manchester United go away and win games and leave you thinking, ‘they keep winning and winning’ and at the end of the season the points tally shows that. That is what we have to do [to challenge for the title].”

Williams Close to Securing Arsenal Move – Report

Arsenal FC are on the verge of signing Swansea City defender Ashley Williams, according to a report published by The Daily Mail.

The Wales international captain has been a long-term target for Arsene Wenger, and the Gunners boss purportedly inquired about his availability in the winter transfer window too.

Club captain Thomas Vermaelen’s indifferent form in the recently concluded season means that signing another centre-half has become one of Wenger’s top priorities for this summer. And the aforementioned publication claims that the 28-year-old Williams is the man that the Frenchman has identified to replace Vermaelen with.

Chamakh Told to Contact Bordeaux

Marouane Chamakh has been told by his former club Bordeaux to contact them if he is serious about leaving Arsenal and re-joining them.

Chamakh, 29, is out of favour at Emirates Stadium and recently confessed to press that he would jump at the opportunity to go back to FCGB, where he made his name before signing for the Gunners in 2010.

And now it seems he could be close to getting his wish, as Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud has issued a public message to the Moroccan striker, urging him to get in touch.

In an interview with Sud-Ouest, Triaud was asked about the chances of Chamakh’s return, to which he replied: “For me, we can talk about a return when the player or his agent picks up the phone and calls me. For now, it does not happen.”

The Gunners should do all they can to make this deal happen as it is highly unlikely that they would be able  to find any takers for Chamakh in England due to his non-existent form in the past two seasons. Moreover, they also have another deadbeat on their books in the form of Nicklas Bendtner, whose injury and personal problems mean that offloading him won’t be an easy job either.

Monteiro to Leave For Brugge

Young Arsenal defender Elton Monteiro will join Belgium’s Club Brugge on a permanent transfer this summer, it has been confirmed.

The 19-year-old Swiss centre-half arrived at Emirates Stadium three years ago but failed to break into the club’s first-team squad and has now signed a three-year deal with the Belgian club to further his career.

Jovetic Would Like to Stay In Italy

Fiorentina star and Arsenal FC transfer target Stevan Jovetic’s agent Fali Ramadani has announced that his client’s preference is to stay in Italy instead of signing for a club from some other country.

The Gunners were hoping to make the 23-year-old Montenegrin their headline signing of the summer but their hopes have been dealt a major blow as Ramadani recently told Novosti: “Stevan would prefer to remain in Serie A rather than moving to a new country.”

Those views have paved the way for Serie A champions Juventus to jump ahead in the race and swoop for Jovetic.

Gunners Gunning For Trophies Not Just UCL Qualification – Gazidis

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis has clarified that the club’s main target is not just to maintain their Champions League status year in, year out and has assured that they are serious about ending their eight-year-long trophy-drought next season.

It has seemed in recent years that the Gunners’ sole target is to qualify for the continental competition, while their rivals regularly challenge for major trophies on both local on European fronts. However, Gazidis has made it clear that Arsenal also want to play for trophies and is confident that their long wait for on-field success will end next season.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, he said: “It is important to reiterate that for everyone at the club, qualification for the Champions League is not our ultimate ambition. Our majority owner Mr Kroenke has made it clear that while it’s an achievement to make the Champions League, our ultimate objective is to win the major trophies.

“We all share that clear ambition and will be driving the club forward to achieve it. Arsene and I have already been planning what we need to do to strengthen so we are better placed next season. One thing is certain – the club is in a very strong position to move forward and our form of losing just one of our last 16 Premier League matches shows that we have a solid foundation on which to build for success.”

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