The Mirror have this morning ran with a back page splash that Arsene Wenger is prepared to spend £75 million to capture Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.
This follows reports by Eurosport France that Mahrez has agreed to join Arsenal, though it is understood that Leicester and Arsenal have yet to agree a fee.
Claudio Ranieri has been bullish about Mahrez remaining at the King Power stadium, but if Mahrez forces the issue, the Foxes may have little option but to let him go.
Some may wonder whether Mahrez will be a certain starter for Arsenal, but the truth is the Gunners’ wide players have under-performed for so long that he would walk into the team.
Mahrez scored 17 Premier League goals and provided 11 assists last term, which are outstanding numbers comparable to the output Robert Pires would regularly provide Arsenal with.
To put those figures in context, that is ten more league strikes than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored in his entire Arsenal career.
If Mahrez is something of a no-brainer for Arsene Wenger, a move for Lacazette is little more problematic. One has the feeling that were Wenger really keen of the French forward, Arsenal would have moved by now because his name has been on the grapevine for some time.
However, Arsenal desperately need a striker and it could be that Lacazette is the most convenient solution; he scored 21 Ligue 1 goals last season and brings the speed and finishing abilities that Wenger was seeking from Jamie Vardy.
Elsewhere, Gonzalo Higuain is said to be undergoing a medical at Juventus after a fee close to £80 million was agreed with Napoli.
Juventus are likely to get this money back through the sale of Paul Pogba, and though Napoli would have preferred to sell to Arsenal, it didn’t bother them enough to offer Arsenal a deal for less than the buy-out clause.
Following the circumspect comments from Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Wenger has offered a brighter outlook to those Arsenal fans who whip themselves into a frenzy every window.
Speaking to Arsenal TV he said: “We look for offensive and defensive positions, we are very active in the transfer market, but it’s a long time to go.
“Everybody has the handbrake on at the moment. It’s a little bit of a poker game until mid-August, in my opinion. We might have to be good at poker.”
Sir Alex Ferguson once remarked that Wenger could run a Govan poker school, and it seems he may have a better hand than he is publicly letting on.
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