Arsenal's attempts to strengthen their beleaguered squad have taken on a rather frenetic feel with Arsène Wenger securing three players in relatively cut-price deals and still hopeful of adding an attacking midfielder and another centre-half to the club's ranks before Wednesday night's transfer deadline.
With the humiliation endured in Sunday's 8-2 defeat at Manchester United still raw, Wenger has performed something of a U-turn by returning to Werder Bremen to sign Per Mertesacker for around €9m (£7.6m) despite having apparently previously been unconvinced that the 26-year-old, albeit an experienced and rugged performer, would thrive given the furious pace of the Premier League. Interest had been expressed last summer only to come to nothing while those doubts persisted and, even this time around, the Germany international had initially featured relatively low on Arsenal's list of potential recruits.
Yet the centre-half is available at a relatively small fee for a player who boasts 75 caps, for his country given the financial problems being experienced by Werder, and should complete his move having broken away from international duty to fly to London and undergo a medical. Mertesacker will be followed to the Emirates by the South Korea striker Park Chu-young, a £1.8m signing from relegated Monaco, and the Brazil defender André Santos, a 28-year-old attack-minded full-back who is to join on a four-year deal for £6.2m from Fenerbahce.
The Brazilian's arrival might be deemed surprising if only given Wenger's recent conviction that, in Kieran Gibbs and a combination of either Thomas Vermaelen or Bacary Sagna, he boasted enough cover at left-back to prioritise other areas of the team. Instead he will come as a direct replacement for the departed Gaël Clichy and Armand Traoré, who started in that position at Old Trafford, having been sold to Queens Park Rangers for around £2m.
Yet Arsenal remain desperate to add experience to their options before Wednesday evening's 11pm cut-off. While interest in Bolton Wanderers' Gary Cahill has cooled since the arrival of Mertesacker, the club could yet test Blackburn Rovers' resolve to retain Christopher Samba even if the Ewood Park club would have to drop their £15m valuation of the Congolese defender for any deal to be concluded in this window. Samba would privately welcome the chance to compete in the Champions League and, like Cahill and Everton's Phil Jagielka, had been more of a priority than Mertesacker earlier in the summer, though the embarrassment suffered at Old Trafford appears to have shifted Wenger's outlook.
Midfield options, too, need to be bolstered given the sales of both Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri, though none of the bids tabled by Arsenal have been accepted, with clubs clinging to their valuations, well aware as they are that the £59m raised in those outgoing transfers remains to be spent. Interest is strongest in the Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila, for whom Wenger offered £22m only to be told that bids had to in excess of £30m to be considered.
M'Vila is under contract until 2015 with Rennes and, like another target, the Sochaux playmaker Marvin Martin, is at Clairefontaine with the France squad for the Les Bleus' Euro 2012 qualifiers against Albania and Romania. Neither of the players' clubs appear open to allowing their prized asset to depart, while Lille's Eden Hazard, a long-standing target for Wenger, is likely to remain out of reach for another season with a Champions League campaign to come. Borussia Dortmund have also quoted an exorbitant ¤40m for their 19-year-old midfielder Mario Goetze.
That could see Arsenal resorting to back-up targets including the Chelsea pair of Yossi Benayoun and Florent Malouda, both of whom are effectively available for transfer. No formal bids have been received for either player, though the Israeli is still courted by a handful of clubs and expects to leave Stamford Bridge before the deadline. Chelsea are likely to loan their new Mexican striker Ulises Dávila, a £5m signing from Chivas, to Vitesse Arnhem and may send Ryan Bertrand to Nottingham Forest, where the England Under-21 defender spent the first half of last season, on loan until January. Similar temporary moves may materialise for Patrick van Aanholt and Gaël Kakuta.
Only a late weakening in the stance of the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy, will see Chelsea's interest in Luka Modric come to fruition in this window, though a deal may be struck with Porto for Alvaro Pereira. Liverpool do not anticipate André Villas-Boas reviving his interest in his compatriot Raul Meireles who is set to remain a squad player at Anfield.
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