Arsenal will return to Newcastle United with an improved offer for the France midfielder Yohan Cabaye as desperation sets into their attempts to strengthen the squad and with the club fearful they have lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to a knee injury until the turn of the year.
An opening bid for Cabaye of around £10m was rejected by Newcastle, who described the offer as "derisory", though there is an acceptance that the 27-year-old may well leave St James' Park before the close of the transfer window on 2 September having grown unsettled at the club. He was omitted from the team for defeat at Manchester City and the Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, while still a reluctant seller, will seek nearer £20m for a player who joined from Lille two years ago; he would hope Arsenal's bid sparks an auction for his services.
Speaking before Monday night's match, Alan Pardew expressed his displeasure at the timing of Arsenal's bid. "On the eve of the game we have received a bid for the player which we deem unacceptable," the Newcastle manager said. "I have to pick what I think is a team to get us a result. The rights and wrongs of it [the bid] other people can have an opinion on. I know what my opinion is."
After his side's 4-0 defeat Pardew added: "Why Arsenal couldn't do us the respect and the honour of waiting until Tuesday evening is beyond me. I think it is just a very difficult situation when a player gets news like that and it wasn't us who gave him the news. It is very hard to get your head round to play a game of this magnitude. I don't really want to comment anymore than that. It is pretty obvious I am upset about that and I would rather focus on what for us has been a tough day. We have 37 games to go and we need to make sure we don't let this game emotionally scar us. I am not sure of the exact terms but it is below our valuation of the player for sure. This is a terrific player."
The recently appointed Paris St-Germain manager, Laurent Blanc, has gone on record with his admiration for Cabaye, with whom he worked in the national set-up, and the French champions retain a firm interest in taking him to Parc des Princes. Monaco, too, have monitored his situation since returning to Ligue 1 and Arsenal's offer may serve to flush out more bids for his services.
That may yet serve to consign Cabaye to the lengthy list of players on whom Wenger has already missed out on over a frustrating summer, with anger at the lack of arrivals and an opening-day defeat by Aston Villa having prompted widespread abuse from the home support at the Emirates on Saturday.
Interest in Cabaye, a ball-playing midfielder of undoubted class, crystalised as Arsenal were contemplating awkward Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce in Istanbul and digesting the loss of Oxlade-Chamberlain to long-term injury. The England midfielder underwent scans on his left knee and, while he does not appear to have ruptured his cruciate ligament, he fears the damage sustained will most likely rule him out for the rest of the year. Confirmation of his absence is expected when Wenger is in Istanbul on the eve of the game at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium.
It has further depleted a squad which had already been trimmed of its high-earning fringe players but has seen only the French forward Yaya Sanogo, signed on a free transfer from Auxerre, added. With the transfer deadline under two weeks away, Wenger's attempts to strengthen have seen inquiries also lodged with the Italian champions Juventus for their former Manchester United midfielder, Paul Pogba. That seems an ambitious chase, with Sevilla's Geoffrey Kondogbia, 20, an alternative even if the Spaniards, too, will resist a sale.
While Arsenal still hold out some hope that their pursuit of Luis Suárez and Wayne Rooney is not forlorn, the Swansea City forward Michu has emerged as a potential fall-back option though no bid has been submitted and it remains to be seen whether Wenger would be willing to pay in excess of £20m for a player who moved to the Welsh club from Rayo Vallecano for nearer £2m a year ago. Stoke City are still braced for a bid for their goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, while Swansea's Ashley Williams and City's Micah Richards, who was suffering with a hamstring strain on Monday night, remain as defensive targets.
Yet time is ticking down towards the deadline and the sudden flurry of interest in potential signings, combined with the sense of mutiny at the final whistle on Sunday, has created an air of panic around the club. At present, the likeliest arrival in a summer that had begun with bold pledges to make waves in the market, with up to £70m apparently available for deals, still appears to be Mathieu Flamini.
The 29-year-old, who left Arsenal for Milan under freedom of contract in 2008, has been training at London Colney over recent weeks following his release from the San Siro club and is available for nothing, though his return would hardly constitute the marquee arrival the hierarchy had envisaged at the start of the summer.
Wenger's squad travel to Turkey with their resources stretched to breaking point before a fixture that could go some way to defining their season. Arsenal were already without Mikel Arteta (thigh), Nacho Monreal (back) and Thomas Vermaelen (back) for the foreseeable future and will need to check on Bacary Sagna's availability at training on Tuesday morning before departure for Luton airport, the Frenchman having damaged his neck in an awkward fall on Saturday.
At least the trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Kieran Gibbs will travel having recovered from knocks inflicted in that 3-1 home defeat, though the travelling party will retain a patched up appearance with only 12 players fully fit and ready for the tie. Arsenal will seek to emerge unscathed from Istanbul and then watch with interest as Fenerbahce's appeal against a Uefa ban from European competition is heard by the court of arbitration for sport over two days, starting on Wednesday on Wednesday. The Turkish club will discover their fate on 28 August, the day after the second leg of their tie, so Arsenal might still progress even if they are defeated.
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald