Fans and analysts alike began wracking their brains for an insight of who could be the possible mystery player that the often-miserly manager would be prepared to shell out such a fee to acquire.
First to jump to many minds was Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels – since the departure of Djourou on loan at Hannover, the Gunners are short a defender.
Even with Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny fit and invariably available this season, the Gunners have been conceding a number of unnecessary goals and with Sebastian Squilacci as the only alternative now, the manager may feel it’s time to invest in some steel for his back line.
The North Londoners have also lacked leadership in both the first-team and the squad in general – currently the most committed and influential player they have is a 21-year-old who has only recently returned from 17 months out injured.
Hummels is everything anyone could possibly want in a defender – he’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s physically imposing, he’s intelligent, determined and he’s got bags of confidence. Equally, due to him having signed a new contract with Dortmund recently, he could very likely cost £30 million.
I do, however, wonder whether his club would let him go for any price and I question whether he would want to leave the German champions for an English side hoping to make the top-four this term.
Wenger is also an avid admirer of Hummels’ teammate Mario Gotze (along with the rest of the footballing world). Interestingly, he apparently has a £30 million release clause built into his contract, which, conveniently, expires this summer. He is widely regarded as one of the most gifted young talents in the world currently and, at just 20 years of age his best certainly lies ahead of him.
His versatility makes him even more highly sought after – he can play anywhere in attacking midfield, whether on either flank or through the middle and this season, he has been averaging a goal every other game.
However, for exactly the same reasons as I would be totally dismayed to see Hummels make a move to the Emirates, Gotze would really be a shock. I can’t rationalize many reasons why he would want to make the switch to Arsenal. It’s not as if he’s sat on the bench at Dortmund, he’s already appeared 25 times so far this season.
His teammate Sven Bender, however, would be more likely to make the switch. A German international he plays for Borussia Dortmund and is considered one of their best players, he’s 23 and has made just 4 league appearances for the club this season after struggling with injury, but is back fit again.
Once considered indestructible by fans of his club and national team, the defensive midfielder has suffered a torrid string of injuries in the last 6 months and has, subsequently, lost his place in the starting line-up for both club and country, after missing the European championship last summer.
Arsenal desperately require more protection from their midfield – after selling Alex Song to Barcelona in the summer, Arsene Wenger opted to move Mikel Arteta back into the holding role and, although he’s been in fine form this season, he’s now injured and so is his replacement Francis Coquelin.
However, I doubt Bender would cost quite that much money – he’s valued around £12.5 million and the club would likely let him go for under £20 million.
Perhaps the rumours are just rumours or maybe, just maybe, there is a signing on the horizon for Arsenal. But, then again, maybe Wenger just fancied a pint of Lowenbrau?
image: © tjuel