Arsenal’s unbalanced squad has been rocked by several notable injuries in the first half of the 2018/19 season. Despite this, their January transfer window is still likely to be dominated by high-profile outgoings rather than incomings.
Aaron Ramsey is now certain to leave the club. The Welshman has entered the final stages of his current contract, which expires on June 30, meaning that he is now able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign sides. Failing that, he will become a free agent in the summer.
Quite sensibly, Ramsey has wasted no time in holding talks with potential suitors and is due to meet Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Juventus, Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid. The Independent understands Bayern remains his preferred destination.
However, although a pre-contract agreement is likely, it would be a surprise to see Ramsey actually leave north London this month. Arsenal would only consider selling the player early for a fee in the region of £30-40m – a high fee for a player available on a free in just a few months’ time.
Meanwhile, The Independent understands that Unai Emery would be open to allowing the unsettled Mesut Ozil to leave the club, although his bumper contract means that Arsenal may even have to subsidise a loan if the situation further deteriorates.
Emery and Ozil have not seen eye-to-eye since a disagreement at Southampton over the nature of his tactical role. While the German sees himself as a playmaker in an advanced role, Emery wants more pressing and running work from such players, and this has been brought up at animated team meetings.
Ozil is however reluctant to leave the club, with sources close to the player this week briefing that he will reject all offers of a loan move away to stay and fight for his place in the starting XI.
While so much uncertainty surrounds the club’s star midfielders, it is in defence that they look particularly vulnerable. Rob Holding has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, while Shkodran Mustafi and, to a lesser extent, Sokratis Papastathopoulos have both been struggling for form.
Real Valladolid centre-back Fernando Calero is one potential target, with the 23-year-old’s current contract containing an enticingly low £10m release clause. Sven Mislintat’s former team Borussia Dortmund are also believed to be keen, as are Sevilla.
Calero is a far more realistic signing than the likes of Juventus defender Daniele Rugani – whose name has cropped up in a few of the red tops – with the club determined not to take any unnecessary risks in the winter market. “We are not closing the door [to the January transfer window] but it’s still not the preferred one. Our plans were made in the summer and we are happy with how things are going,” director of football Raul Sanllehi told The Independent in November.
The club could yet decide to reignite their interest in Boca Juniors’ forward Cristian Pavón, especially given Danny Welbeck’s long-term injury and current contract situation. Like Ramsey, Welbeck will be able to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer.
Arsenal are long-term suitors of Pavón, who sparkled in a serious of encouraging cameo displays for Argentina during their otherwise underwhelming World Cup 2018 campaign. And, as The Independent reported in August, Pavon is open to a move to Europe after the conclusion of his club’s Copa Libertadores campaign.
One final thing: Ousmane Dembélé isn’t going to sign for the club, no matter what you might read in increasingly frenzied transfer rumour round-ups. Sorry.
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