Chelsea are monitoring the situation concerning Arsenal's disenchanted midfielder Samir Nasri, and may compete with Manchester United for his signature should their move for Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric fall flat.
Nasri, 24, has been discussed at the highest level by the Chelsea board and owner Roman Abramovich, and although he is not near the top of their list of potential targets, that could change should other possible new arrivals become unavailable. Chelsea have already seen a £22m bid for Modric rejected out of hand by Tottenham, though they are highly likely to bid again. Tottenham have categorically ruled out selling the Croatian playmaker, who two weeks ago publicly stated his desire to leave White Hart Lane and move across London to Chelsea.
The queue of clubs ready to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding Nasri – Manchester City are keeping an open mind on the situation – has not cowed Arsène Wenger into rapid close-season business, with only one imminent new arrival and the Arsenal manager insisting that clubs involved in the summer transfer market "don't blink until late July".
Nasri's reluctance to sign a new £90,000-a -week deal is in part driven by doubts over Arsenal's potential to build and, despite reports to the contrary, there have been no discussions with the clubs of Christopher Samba, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Juan Mata or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with a view to strengthening. Any Arsenal move for Bolton Wanderers' Gary Cahill is understood to be contingent on Owen Coyle securing a player in return, with a fear that the Lancashire club's financial position would prevent him retaining the entire transfer fee of around £17m. But Coyle does not want Nicklas Bendtner. A young reserve-team player with potential – Henri Lansbury or the Spanish defender Ignasi Miquel – may be what Coyle needs.
Arsenal's fans are expected to have a new player to contemplate next week, with the possible conclusion of a £10.5m deal for Gervinho, the Lille forward, and contact has been made with Birmingham City about central defender Scott Dann. But Wenger has insisted in a French radio interview that he will not be rushed. "Currently, everyone is standing still," Wenger said. "Everyone expects everyone else to make the first move. Everyone holds on to their cards, hoping for the major transfer [to kick-start the transfer window]. Nobody blinks until late July, early August. Then we will analyse the gaps in each team. [But] I am very active on the phone."
If the clubs with whose players Arsenal have been linked are to be believed, there has not been an abundance of calls. Everton have received no expressions of interest in their players, which suggests no moves for Baines and Jagielka. There is a feeling that the widely advertised Arsenal "interest" in Samba is not being driven by either club. Sources close to Valencia's Mata have disclosed no Arsenal interest, either. Southampton manager Nigel Adkins yesterday denied suggestions Arsenal had tabled an offer for Chamberlain, though Arsenal are believed to be in pole position for his signature despite the interest of a host of clubs.
Chelsea's contingencies for the failure of a bid to lure Modric also include monitoring of Marseilles' playmaker Lucho Gonzalez. Wenger may face a contest with Chelsea over both Cahill and Dann, with new Stamford Bridge manager Andre Villas-Boas understood to be interested in a second English centre-half. No move for Nasri is expected until next week, when United are the club most likely to test Arsenal's resolve to hold on to a player who can walk away next year.