M'Vila eager to seal £18m switch to Gunners
Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila has told friends that he wants to join Arsenal this summer regardless of whether they clinch a place in the Champions League.
Arsenal are close to finalising what would be a club record £18m deal for the France international, with manager Arsene Wenger having identified holding midfield as a transfer priority this summer.
There has also been interest in M'Vila from Inter Milan, but the 21-year-old has now firmly indicated his desire to join Gunners.
The expectation in France is that his arrival at the Emirates will be confirmed shortly after their domestic league season finishes on May 20.
'Le Parisien' has even reported that provisional agreement has been reached on a €22m (£18m) transfer fee and four-year contract. Arsenal sources are more circumspect and stress that no formal agreement has been reached.
Indeed, the precise outlay of any deal is likely to be influenced by whether Arsenal do now clinch a place in the Champions League.
The club have already spent £11m on Germany striker Lukas Podolski and face a major challenge this summer to ease the wage burden caused by some of their peripheral squad players. Potentially costly contract negotiations also await for both Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott.
The Champions League is generally worth around £30m each season and, should Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, they would be sure to finish third and qualify for Europe's elite club competition for a 16th straight year.
Should they slip up, Tottenham and Newcastle could still grasp one of the two remaining Champions League places.
Arsenal also made an enquiry last summer for M'Vila, but the midfielder eventually agreed with Rennes that he would stay for one more season.
Inter Milan have also been interested and it is understood that M'Vila met with representatives of the Italian club last week.
The personal lure of Wenger, however, has been considerable and M'Vila now wants to get his future finalised before the start of next month's European Championships.
Should Arsenal successfully clinch the signing of M'Vila, it would certainly represent another major statement of intent for next season.
The club's existing transfer record is the £15m that was paid for Andrei Arshavin in 2009.
Wenger is also scouting a number of other targets, although much will hinge on whether clubs can be found for out-of-favour squad players.
Arshavin, Denilson, Carlos Vela and Nickals Bendtner are all on loan, while Marouane Chamakh, Park Chu-Young, Sebastien Squillaci, Manuel Almunia and Johan Djoruou have had only limited impact this season.
Wenger, though, is still actively considering changes throughout his squad. Ajax centre-back Jan Vertonghen is being watched and could replace Djourou among the main group of defenders.
Arsenal are also monitoring various options in attack, including Blackburn's Junior Hoilett, Fulham's Clint Dempsey and Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud.
An overhaul of the goalkeepers is imminent. Almunia will leave at the end of the season and may join West Ham permanently, while Lukasz Fabianski wants regular first-team football and could be loaned out.
That would leave Arsenal still needing some proven competition to Wojciech Szczesny, with Swansea City's Michael Vorm currently being watched.
Wenger also hopes that Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby will be like two new signings next season and believes that he does already have the basis of a squad that can compete next season with the two Manchester clubs.
The desire to seal major signings so early in the summer also reflects a desire to avoid last year's nightmare when Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were both sold after the season started and three new players were recruited on deadline day of the transfer window.
There is also the hope that the arrival of Podolski, and potentially M'Vila, will help Wenger as he enters crunch contract talks with Van Persie and Walcott.
Wenger wants to resolve these negotiations during the next month and knows that, while financial considerations are important, his key players also want reassurance over the club's ability to challenge for silverware.
"Great players like to be with great players so it helps always to get them in," said Wenger. (© Independent News Service)