Arsenal eye Welbeck and El-Haddadi as cover for crocked Giroud
Gunners hunt new strikers as deals for defenders bite the dust with just days to go in transfer window
With just five days to go before the transfer window slams shut the tension is mounting, just like the injury list at Arsenal. And talking of which... with Olivier Giroud set to be sidelined until Christmas has Arsene Wenger already identified a replacement? The Daily Express thinks so, and reports that the Gunners are "keeping tabs" on Munir El-Haddadi of Barcelona.
At just 18 years of age, the Barca frontman is invariably described as a "wonderkid" and yet he could come as cheap as £10m because of his age. El-Haddadi had a "sensational debut" for Barca on Sunday, scoring for the Catalan club in their defeat of Elche. According to the Express Wenger "has been watching him for quite some time" although if the Nutty Professor does want to land the youngster he'll have to act fast as Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to him.
What might persuade El-Haddadi to make the move to the Emirates is the knowledge that his place at the Camp Nou will be taken by Luis Suarez once he's finished his biting ban and then there is also Neymar, recovering from the injury he sustained for Brazil during the World Cup, in front of him in the pecking order.
Of course Wenger has plenty more targets up his sleeve if Barca won't sell. The most unlikely of which appears to be former Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic, last seen scoring for the Blues in a Championship relegation clash with Bolton last season. Now, according to his agent and the Birmingham Mail, the 33-year-old is in line for a shock move to Arsenal.
A more realistic target might be Danny Welbeck of Manchester United, last seen losing to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup. The England striker has been deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and the Daily Mail says that Wenger is a long-term admirer of the player and could move to sign him before the transfer window closes. The paper adds that QPR's French striker Loic Remy is another possible target.
Meanwhile Arsenal appear to have missed the boat on Roma's Mehdi Benatia with confirmation from Goal.com that the 27-year-old has been snapped up by Bayern Munich. As we reported yesterday, the German giants had been dithering over the Moroccan defender but could it be that after reading Transfer Talk's report of Arsenal's interest they decided to act?
Benatia has been signed for what Goal.com describes as "an undisclosed fee" with the player set to travel to Munich later this week to complete a medical and agree personal terms. It's believed the deal will be for five years.
To make matters worse for Wenger, Roma have already lined up a replacement for Benatia: none other than Arsenal's other main defensive target Kostas Manolas of Olympiakos. The Daily Mail reports that the two clubs have agreed a £10.4m deal for the 23-year-old who was on the brink of becoming a Gunner just last week. It leaves Wenger with just a few days to identify and sign a new defender, after he allowed Thomas Vermaelen to leave earlier in the summer.
In other news Talksport says that Manchester United have "not made contact with Ajax" about Daley Blind, which must be a relief to the Dutch defender given the Red Devils' humiliating 4-0 defeat to the MK Dons in last night's Capital One clash. It was claimed earlier in the month that United were ready to offer the Dutch club £18m for the defender, but Blind's agent, Rob Jansen, told Talksport they had yet to make an approach for the Netherlands international. "At this moment Manchester United have not been in touch with me or Ajax about Daley and I'm not sitting here waiting for the call," said Jansen. Ajax boss Frank de Boer said recently he wanted Blind to stay in Ajax but he also admitted the club "cannot refuse" a big money offer if one was made by Louis van Gaal.
Finally, and not altogether unexpectedly, United have confirmed the capture of Angel di Maria. Announcing the deal on their official website the club said they had paid Real Madrid a "British record fee of £59.7m" for the Argentine winger, who arrives at Old Trafford on a five-year contract.
The 26-year-old Di Maria, capped 52 times by his country, apparently told the website in perfect English: "I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United... Louis van Gaal is a fantastic coach with a proven track record of success and I am impressed by the vision and determination everyone has to get this club back to the top – where it belongs. I now just cannot wait to get started."
He was, of course, speaking before what's already been dubbed the 'Milton Keynes Massacre'.