Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted for the first time that the Premier League leaders tried to sign Robert Lewandowski before he quit Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich.
The Polish forward signed a five-year contract with the German and European champions on Saturday but was the subject of interest from across the continent before signing for Pep Guardiola's side.
With Olivier Giroud, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott all out injured, the need for strikers is reaching critical point at the Emirates but Wenger says Lewandowski was never a realistic target.
He said: "Yes we looked into Lewandowski but honestly he signed for Bayern one and a half years ago, everyone knows that.
"They can only make it official now because he is in the last six months of his contract.
"We are like everyone, we look out there and see what is happening. If an opportunity turns up, you know as well that all the big players are at big clubs at the moment and they go for important targets.
"Unless you have a club in a desperate financial situation it will be difficult.
"If we find someone like Gnabry at that age when nobody knows them, then maybe. But I just said many times we don’t rule anything out.'
Wenger also confirmed his interest in Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic, despite the German club insisting they have no plans to sell.
"Lewandowski is at Dortmund until the end of the season and they will not sell Mandzukic now - maybe at the end of the season."
Transfer news: Strikers Arsenal could sign in January
Transfer news: Strikers Arsenal could sign in January
1/7 Diego Costa
The Atletico Madrid star has recently signed a new contract to remain in the Spanish capital, although it is reported that a £32m release clause can be activated to try and negotiate a move. Costa’s decision to leave Atletico would be surprising though, given their competitiveness in La Liga as they sit level on points with leaders Barcelona, and also their brilliant run in the Champions League. A move to London could also jeopardise his hopes of making the Spain squad for the 2014 World Cup after electing to play for the reigning champions rather than his native Brazil.
2/7 Dimitar Berbatov
His agent has already claimed that the Bulgarian would like to leave Fulham this month despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. With £2m believed to be enough to secure the former Tottenham and Manchester United striker, it would be a low cost, low risk option, but questions remain over his work rate and energy levels, and Wenger has denied any interest on his part. Whether Berbatov would quench the thirst of fans who feel another striker in integral to their title hopes remains uncertain, but he does come with a natural talent that few in the Premier League can match – if only he produced it regularly.
3/7 Karim Benzema
The Real Madrid striker was linked with a move away from the club in the summer after struggling to produce the form required to spearhead an attack that includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. But the Frenchman has since hit his best, and a much mooted move to Arsenal now appears off the cards with Carlo Ancelotti determined not to sell. Benzema would no doubt be a world class acquisition that would provide further optimism at the Emirates that the Gunners are here to stay at the top, but it may take in excess of £30m (and thus bankroll a Real move for Luis Suarez) to trigger any chance of signing him this month.
Verdict: The slimmest of chances
4/7 Alvaro Morata
Benzema’s colleague at Real Madrid has been linked with a short-term move in the hope of seeking regular first team action, with Arsenal and Tottenham at the forefront of those rumours. Ancelotti’s desire not to let any players depart again causes an issue, but chances of securing Morata are much higher given Benzema’s current standing as the starting striker. Unproven, Morata would be an exciting talent but also back-up to Giroud, and you would have to question a decision to move to the Emirates when first team football is by no means guaranteed.
5/7 Mario Mandzukic
The Bayern Munich striker looks set to be displaced in his role as lead striker at the end of the season by the recently acquired Robert Lewandowski, and reports this morning suggest that Arsenal are one of the clubs interest in his services. A proven goalscorers, the Croatian would add experience and talent to the squad, but he’s unlikely to jump ship with Bayern on course for another trophy-laden season.
Verdict: Watch this space in summer
6/7 Loic Remy
On loan at Newcastle from Queens Park Rangers, Remy is available in January should Rangers receive a good enough offer. Remy has looked sharp throughout the first half of the season, leading the line for the Magpies with 10 goals in 18 appearances. It could take over £10m to acquire the Frenchman though, but Remy would inject a turn of pace that Giroud does seem to lack at the moment.
Verdict: Very possible
Swansea’s signing of the season last year hasn’t been as prolific this term, but his eye for a goal remains undoubted given his 22 goals in all competitions during his first year at the Liberty Stadium. However, Michu is currently on the sidelines through injury and would be a pointless signing to solve the current injury situation that the Gunners have. Despite links with the Spaniard, this move looks like a complete no-go.
Verdict: No chance