£60m to spend and Wenger's priority is still a loan signing

Money may be burning hole but Arsenal's first move is a temporary deal for a 30-year-old Marseilles midfielder, writes Sam Wallace
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Arsène Wenger will turn his attention to bolstering his midfield options over the last week of the transfer window with Arsenal already making fresh inquiries over a loan move for Marseilles' Argentinian international Lucho Gonzalez and Sochaux's Marvin Martin.

Wenger is understood to have asked Marseilles about the option of taking Gonzalez, 30, on loan for this season for a fee of up to €5m (£4m) for nine months dependent on how many games he would play. The midfielder is 30 years old and the French club would prefer to sell him outright but Wenger has reservations about a permanent deal because of the player's age.

The Champions League draw yesterday threw Arsenal and Marseilles together in Group F and it is not clear whether that would affect the deal going through, but nonetheless the Arsenal manager does have options.

There is still a long-standing interest in Yann M'Vila of Rennes although at €25m he would be up there with the most expensive signing Wenger has ever made.

Having agreed deals worth around £60m for Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, he has a week in which to add to his squad but with the disadvantage that the clubs he seeks to buy from know exactly how much money he has at his disposal. There also appears to be a serious reluctance on the part of Lille to sell Eden Hazard to Arsenal.

Wenger is understood to have had a meeting yesterday with chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, to discuss the club's transfer strategy for the next five days. Wenger said on Wednesday night: "We work very hard but we have a lot of players who were out [injured], who are top-class players, I think they can be positive.

"There may be signings but I cannot give you any names. I cannot lie and say we will sign players tomorrow because it is not true, but we are trying very hard." The Arsenal manager has maintained his interest in Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill in the hope of bringing Bolton, Everton or even both clubs to the table.

The Arsenal goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, said that his game-defining save from Antonio Di Natale's penalty against Udinese in Wednesday's qualifier was a question of psyching out the Italy international.

"I just tried to get into Di Natale's head – I gave him a bit of stick," he said. "I was probably not very nice to him. But it worked, so I'm delighted. I will miss out a few words but I just told him he was not good enough, that I was too good for him and he was not going to score. Put in a nice way, I got in his head because he missed the penalty and it worked.

"He is a quality player, he showed that in the first half with his finish [for Udinese's goal]. I don't think a lot of players in the world could have finished that the way he did. It makes me even happier to save such a crucial penalty at such a crucial moment against such a big player."

Despite being a goal down at half-time, with the tie level on aggregate, Szczesny said that the anxiety that seems to have followed Arsenal around this season does not extend to the players.

"At half-time, there might have been a lot of people in England questioning the team because we were losing at such a difficult venue to a very good Udinese side," he said. "The only people who believed in the team was the team."

Robin van Persie (pictured) said that the win over Udinese could be the moment that Arsenal's season begins in earnest, although they are depleted by injuries and suspension for Sunday's game at Old Trafford. "Of course it's been a hard week, Cesc leaving, Samir leaving," he said. "We've been in the papers for the wrong reasons sometimes – lots of discussions. But I think we played well under immense pressure, so that's a positive sign.

"And now it's up to us to show that every three or four days, because that's football. It's not that we can live on this night for the rest of the month or the rest of the year. We have to do it every single time."

Comments