With a huge cloud of uncertainty continuing to hover over the Emirates, Arsène Wenger went some way towards clarifying matters with his revelation that the ongoing soap opera surrounding the club’s contract negotiations with disaffected star players Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil have been put on hold until the summer. Sánchez is expected to leave come season’s end, while there are some among Arsenal’s support who wouldn’t mind seeing Özil go with him. The Germany international is believed to be the subject of interest from Fenerbahce.
While he is keeping his cards close to his chest, the general consensus seems to be that Wenger is staying put and will sign up for at least one more year and may try to bring the Turkey international Arda Turan to north London as a replacement for his Chilean playmaker. Two years into a five-year deal since joining Barcelona from Atlético Madrid, Turan is valued at around £25m and various papers are saying the notoriously parsimonious Wenger is ready to offer exactly that to get the 30-year-old from Istanbul into an Arsenal shirt.
Meanwhile in Germany, the Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has decreed that it will take a preposterously obscene offer to lure Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang away from Signal Iduna Park. A long-time target of Manchester City and Real Madrid, the Gabon international is a player in huge demand, having scored 23 goals in as many Bundesliga matches already this season and has recently been the subject of speculation surrounding a move to Liverpool or Arsenal. “As of yet, I have no information that suggests Auba will leave Dortmund,” said Watzke. “If we were to reach that point, we will sit down and listen to each other. We have a lot of respect for Auba and he deserves that but there are not an awful lot of clubs that would be a step forward for him in my opinion. Either way, he will only leave Dortmund for an outrageous transfer fee if he does move.” Outrageous.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is unhappy in the French capital, according to his agent Donato di Campli, who appears to be agitating to get his 24-year-old Italian client a move. One of very few PSG players to emerge from that capitulation against Barcelona with their reputations intact, Verratti recently signed an improved deal but seems to have no great love for life in Paris and is believed to remain resolutely appalled by the manner in which his team-mates buckled at the Camp Nou, where he might find a new home now that Andrés Iniesta isn’t getting any younger. Should Verratti decide it’s time for a move, one suspects he won’t be short of high-profile European suitors. Chelsea and Manchester United are already being mentioned as possible destinations, while he might also fancy being reunited with his former PSG gaffer Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich. Reports in Portugal suggest the German champions are currently mulling over an €80m bid for the Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva, a breathtaking midfield talent who is also wanted by Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Silva is just one of many exciting Monaco players in big demand. Wednesday’s instalment of the Rumour Mill suggested Chelsea have already agreed personal terms with Tiemoué Bakayoko, while the Spanish newspaper AS have reported that another, unnamed Premier League side has had a £96m offer for the teenage striker Kylian Mbappe rejected. Both Manchester clubs and Arsenal are all believed to be fans of his work. In a bid to put an end to the City goalkeeping crisis their manager Pep Guardiola claims doesn’t exist, his employers are also believed to have put feelers out in the direction of the Benfica goalkeeper Ederson.
And finally, the Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson is out of contract this summer and has said he won’t be deciding his next move until he knows what division the club will be in next season. With the Black Cats finally looking to have used up their nine lives, the Swede is unlikely to be keen on inking a new and unimproved deal if he gets a better offer.