Arsenal are weighing up a £32m move for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho in a bid to ease their injury nightmare, but Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to make a big-money January signing could lead to a loan move for another target instead.
Wenger’s interest in 23-year-old Carvalho stretches back to the summer of 2014, when the Portuguese defensive midfielder enjoyed a rapid rise onto the European stage. With Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla sidelined for at least three months each, Wenger is unable to call on his first-choice midfielder pairing.
His woes are added to by the unavailability of Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, the former yet to play a minute of football this season due to a fractured leg while the latter suffered a recurrence of the calf injury he picked up earlier in the season during the 2-1 defeat by West Bromwich Albion.
The injuries will likely force Wenger into the transfer window, given is only fit options in central midfield are Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey – the Welshman only just returning from injury himself. Calum Chambers could be deployed in a holding midfield role, but he is yet to convince in the unfamiliar position and his form this season has been nothing short of forgettable.
Having previously shown interest in Carvalho, the Sporting midfielder would fit the bill for the Gunners if they want to make a serious statement about their season ambitions. The Portuguese club are unwilling to sell Carvalho though, and it would take a bid of £32m to activate his release clause in order to open negotiations.
The Telegraph reports that while Carvalho is firmly on the radar, Wenger is reluctant to make such a big signing in January given he has only spent half that figure during the mid-season transfer window. The alternative would be to make one or two loan signings, although given the unsuccessful addition of Kim Kallstrom in 2014, Arsenal fans would predictably be very unhappy with the failure to bring in a top class midfielder at a time of desperation.
Wenger’s biggest outlay in the January transfer window remains the £17m he committed to signing Jose Antonio Reyez in 2004 and the same figure allocated to Andrey Arshavin’s move in 2009.
Carvalho would be short on match fitness should he move to Arsenal next month after himself suffering a fractured tibia during the European Under-21 Championships in the summer.
However, he has himself fuelled talk of a move to the Gunners in the past, and revealed that hi preferred club should he leave Lisbon would be the north London side.
“I am where I want to be right now, which is Sporting but if I ever leave then it’s a sign that my work here is done,” Carvalho said earlier this year. “I dream of winning the Primeira Liga here. I prefer not to say too much but there is a club with which I’ve always been fond of: Arsenal.”
Lars Bender remains another high-profile name on Wenger’s wishlist, while youngsters Abdelhak Nouri and Ruben Neves of Ajax and Porto respectively have cropped up in reports in recent days.
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