Sami Khedira’s agent this week denied Arsenal and Chelsea had made any contact with him over his client and, furthermore, suggested the midfielder would be open to negotiations with Real Madrid over a new contract to stay on at the European champions.
This would suggest that, despite the media speculation, Arsene Wenger may not even consider the German a target and if that’s the case, who could the French coach be eyeing instead? Here are six possibilities...
The 25-year-old German has been linked with a move to Arsenal in several previous transfer windows but this summer could be the right time for the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder. He wouldn’t come cheap but a fee of perhaps less than the £25 million for Khedira could see the No.8 move to the Emirates.
Likewise, his twin brother Sven Bender has also been linked with a move to Arsenal but the likelihood that Borussia Dortmund would allow him to leave is minimal. However, his contract with the Bundesliga giants runs until 2017 (unlike his brother’s which runs until 2019 at Bayer Leverkusen) so he may for that reason be the more likely of the pair to sign.
Another player linked with interest from the Gunners is this 24-year-old Southampton enforcer. He is already acclimatized to the demands of the Premier League and is a France international, which Wenger will be familiar with and could likely be a cheaper option than any of the above targets.
Meanwhile, Barcelona are understood to be keen to offload the former Arsenal midfielder who left in 2012 for £16 million. Whilst I doubt that there is much urgency to bring him back, stranger things have happened and Wenger has a track-record re-signing former players. He knows the club well, he knows the Premier League and he is further matured at 26 years of age now. He may well be more of a contender than one would assume at first glance.
This highly-rated Nigerian has been impressing at Lazio where he has been developing since he was just 19 years old. 21 years of age now, the midfielder is a strong presence in Serie A who combines technical quality with physical edge and could be an option that Wenger could look to invest in for the future with Mikel Arteta now over 30 years of age.
One more Bundesliga option is Schalke’s 26-year-old signing from two summers ago. At 6ft2”, he has the physical presence of the Bender brothers and his technical quality is good enough to see him capped twice for Germany. He would be an outside option but Wenger may see him as a cheaper option to Khedira who can have a similar impact on the balance of the team.