Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger can often be vague when it comes to his transfer plans, much to the frustration of Gunners fans but did the boss unintentionally hint at his aims for January when he spoke at the weekend?
The French boss is well known for his tight-lipped approach to the transfer window and this January looks to be shaping up as the rule not the exception, as the manager spoke publicly about his plans without saying very much.
He did however, give himself away a little when he responded to questions from reporters over Poland striker Robert Lewandowski who officially signed for Bayern Munich from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund last week.
"They can only make it official now because he is in the last six months of his contract,” Wenger explained of Lewandowski.
"We are like everyone, we look out there and see what is happening. If an opportunity turns up, you know as well that all the big players are at big clubs at the moment and they go for important targets.”
"Unless you have a club in a desperate financial situation it will be difficult. If we find someone like Serge Gnabry at that age when no-one knows them, then maybe. But I just said many times we don't rule anything out."
It is this final paragraph of his response that interests me most because, looking closely, there is a hint in there – a very big hint – not only of kind of player Wenger will be most interested in targeting in the transfer window this month but, crucially, the kind of club he hopes to do business with.
Clubs in financial trouble have proven successful negotiating grounds for Wenger in recent transfer windows – La Liga side Malaga were forced to sell of their best assets over the last 18 months. The likes of Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal as well as youngster Isco who moved to Real Madrid this summer.
Not to mention the club’s record signing this summer of Mesut Ozil would not have been possible had it not been for Real Madrid’s huge outlay on Isco and world record signing Gareth Bale.
Meanwhile, the debt on the books at the Bernabeu remains a problem for the club, especially with the Financial Fairplay relugations soon to take effect in Europe’s top leagues.
Arsenal have been heavily linked with youngster Alvaro Morata who, incidentally, is around Serge Gnabry’s age at 21 years old as well as 20-year-old forward Jese. There is, of course, also Karim Benzema who could be looking for a way out at the Bernabeu and it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Spanish giants to offload a £30 million striker with high wages to balance their accounts.
Meanwhile, closer to home in the Premier League, Fulham are also struggling to manage their debt and it just so happens that the soon to be out of contract Dimitar Berbatov has been linked with Arsenal in recent weeks – whilst Wenger appeared to rule out a move for the former Tottenham and Manchester United striker, I wouldn’t necessarily take that as a promise from Wenger.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti appeared to rule out any transfer activity – incoming or outgoing – in January, stating last week that the window is ‘closed’ as far as he is concerned. He may have to change his tune if a big offer comes in for one of his lesser-used players due to the desperate need to balance the £85.3 million spent on Bale and the €30 million (around £24 million) on Isco this summer.
Ozil’s sale reduced that from £107.5 million to £65 million in the red on transfers alone but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see the manager overruled if a £30 million offer came in for an unsettled striker, for example, nor would I be surprised to hear Wenger change his tune on Dimitar Berbatov.