While Arsenal are reportedly willing to pay Real Madrid’s £20 million asking price for Sami Khedira, the midfielder's desire for a £200k-a-week basic wage package, plus top-up bonuses, is proving a big stumbling block in negotiations.
With the Gunners possibly forced to focus attention elsewhere unless the World Cup-winner significantly reduces his salary demands, here are five other targets the club could look to as alternatives.
Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen)
A hard-working and tactically-bright defensive midfielder, Arsenal reportedly had a £19 million bid for Bender turned down last summer, with Leverkusen later extending his current contract with the club until 2019.
Nevertheless, he is said to remain high on the Gunners’ wish list, with Arsene Wenger having earmarked the German international as a long-term replacement for the incumbent Mikel Arteta.
The 25-year-old missed out on the World Cup squad for Brazil due to a thigh injury, and that could well play to the club’s advantage, with his price tag having little chance to increase over the summer.
Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
Gustavo reportedly has a £26 million buy-out clause in his contract, which came into effect following the World Cup, where the Brazilian was arguably one of his side’s better performers during their disappointing campaign.
The 26-year-old was courted by Arsenal last year prior to his departure from Bayern Munich, and would undoubtedly remind fans of former club legend Gilberto Silva were they to see him perform in a red and white shirt.
Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)
Martinez was a key player under former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes but failed to seal down a regular place in the lineup last season after the arrival of Pep Guardiola.
There were strong rumours linking the 25-year-old with a move to the Emirates early in the summer but those died down following the Spain international’s insistence that he wants to remain with the Bundesliga champions.
Just as comfortable at centre-back or central midfield, the former Athletic Bilbao star would be the dream addition for most fans but it remains to be seen whether Arsenal would reignite their interest if their pursuit of Khedira fails.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
Arsenal have been tracking Schneiderlin throughout this summer, following two superb Premier League seasons at Southampton, with Wenger and the coaching staff said to see the Frenchman as an ideal fit to be their midfield anchor.
As the Saints’ summer fire sale continues, a reported £20 million asking price is well within the club’s means but they will have to be quick if they want to beat their rivals Tottenham to his signature.
Alex Song (Barcelona)
Song has become somewhat of a polarising figure since his departure to Barca in August 2012, and a fair number of fans likely wouldn’t be best pleased to see 26-year-old return to the club.
However, having been frozen out of the side with the Catalan giants, the Cameroon international is looking for a return to English football and could be available for much less than the other potential targets listed.
If he could rediscover the form which made him a regular under Wenger for several seasons, it could prove a decent piece of business for the club.