Arsenal have made an official £33.8m offer for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka after moving ahead with their first transfer of the summer, with the German club resigned to losing the Swiss international in the coming weeks.
Xhaka has emerged on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s radar this season after impressing in Monchengladbach’s rise up the Bundesliga table and Champions League campaign, with the 23-year-old playing both group games against semi-finalists Manchester City earlier in the season.
With Arsenal needing to strengthen their midfield as Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini head for the exit, Wenger has openly admitted to tracking Xhaka as a transfer target, and the Evening Standard report that Arsenal have followed up that interest with an official bid to sign the former Basel player.
Xhaka’s contract does contain a €25m [£19.7m] release clause, but it does not activate until next year and Wenger is determined to bring the midfielder to the Premier League this year in order to address what has been a disappointing season for the Gunners.
Arsenal were expected to challenge for the Premier League title, only for a run of dreadful form through January and February see them drop out of contention in the league as well as suffer elimination from the Champions League and FA Cup. Arsenal still have the chance to beat north London rivals Tottenham to second place on the final weekend of the season, but it will be scant consolation for the club after pre-season hopes of challenging for top honours.
Monchengladbach are aware that the interest in Xhaka is genuine and are believed to be resigned to losing the midfielder, but given the release clause is not yet in play, the Bundesliga club will demand up to £35m to let him leave. Arsenal’s bid falls narrowly short of that mark, but it does represent a significant improvement on their opening enquiry and is also £13m more than the club may receive next year.
Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini all looked destined for the exit given that their contracts expire at the end of the season, with the club currently harbouring no plans to extend them. Club captain Arteta is currently weighing up a move into coaching, with both Manchester City and Tottenham believed to be keen on taking the Spaniard under their wing and helping him earn his Uefa badges, while Wenger has also left the door open for the 34-year-old to remain with the club and cut his teeth in the coaching world with Arsenal.
Wenger has already moved to address the trio’s impending exit by signing Mohamed Elneny in January, and with Francis Coquelin, Santo Cazorla and Jack Wilshere all back to full fitness, Xhaka could well be Wenger’s only addition to the midfield this summer. The club are expected to strengthen in attack and defence, having scored the fewest number of goals of the top four clubs this season and conceding more than Leicester City, Spurs and Manchester United.
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