It has been no secret of late that Arsenal need a striker of some capacity to help their attacking options which have been struck down with Danny Welbeck’s fresh setback. It looked like a deal was nearly done to sign Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy but the connection and love for Leicester has brought that to a temporary halt.Arsenal triggered the release clause of Vardy last week and there were reports that talks were taking place to ensure a deal was finalised before England set off to France for the Euros on Monday. Yet, the Telegraph report that Leicester made a deadline offer to their star striker to stay or at least give the decision some more thinking time. Come Monday, Vardy had boarded the plane at Luton Airport and a decision wasn’t clarified, so it now seems the saga may run on and culminate after England’s Euro campaign, if the latest rumours are to be believed.
The Premier League’s new diamond is set for England duty and if Arsenal are determined to pursue him, they’ll have to wait as it seems the attraction of following through Leicester’s Champions League journey may be too good to resist. If Vardy was to remain at Leicester, it would definitely grant him hero status by turning down a move to one of English football’s giants, but for Arsenal it would be a blow in their pursuit of a striker. With dynamite pace and unerring finishing, Vardy would be a smart buy for Arsenal at £20 million. It still may happen, but with the delay and Arsenal’s need for a new frontman, it’s a big blow to any deal taking him to The Emirates.
But, Arsenal aren’t just looking at Vardy, when it comes to the champions spine. N’Golo Kante had a remarkable breakthrough season, which is worrying for Leicester now, as he is a target for top clubs all over Europe, who are looking for that ferocious, ball-winning midfielder, claim the Evening Standard. Arsenal are reportedly interested and Kante, like Vardy, has a release clause, his being only £19.4 million.
Just under £20 million for a player of Kante’s quality and importance is staggering, considering Arsenal have also just purchased Granit Xhaka for £30 million, it shows their willingness to spend this summer. Kante has shown he’s proven in the Premier League and would be a great buy for Arsenal to possibly partner Xhaka in midfield. Making 4.2 interceptions per game this season, second only to Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye, Kante has been a rock and stalwart this season for the Foxes.
His ability to start attacks from deep with driving, powerful runs is something that became part of Leicester’s game; building on counter-attacking. On numerous occasions, Kante began Leicester goals with his tenacity to hunt the ball down, set on a powerful surge forward and then possess the presence and quality to pick out Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy and see the ball hit the back of the net.
He would be a real asset in North London and provide an upgrade to Francis Coquelin and good competition to Xhaka or for a place alongside the Swiss, pitting him against Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. It would not only be a purchase of great value, but at 25, he can still improve and be the closest player Arsenal have had to Patrick Vieira since their legendary captain departed in 2005.
In trying to stop players from the current crop departing, Arsenal are being bold in their determination to keep Hector Bellerin, according to the Mirror. A rumoured bumper new deal is in the offing and will be a statement that Arsenal value their ever-improving Spanish full-back. They have learned their lessons from previous contract situations, needing to act earlier. In previous years, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Alex Song all had contracts nearing their end and by the time Arsenal went to offer new ones, they were eyeing up moves away. Tying Bellerin down to a new deal would be great business as he continues to show to be a key player for Arsene Wenger.
Elsewhere, Arsenal have competition from Manchester United in their race to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Dortmund midfielder has reportedly turned down a contract offer from his club, according to German outlet BILD, with only a year left. Enquiries have been made from United, but Arsenal are positioned as favourites. It makes sense for the Armenian to prefer a move to Arsenal, if his heart is set on England; they can offer Champions League football and a first team spot for him alongside Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, whilst Manchester United and Liverpool can’t match that level of football. The lure of Jose Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp is enticing but Arsenal have equally tempting traits and a move could take place if Mkhitaryan is indeed ready to depart Germany.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam.