Nasri nears exit as Arsenal get their £12m man
Arsenal have clinched the £12m signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the future of Samir Nasri remains in significant doubt, with Manchester City preparing an offer of more than £20m.
Arsenal and Southampton were yesterday putting the finishing touches to a deal for Oxlade-Chamberlain that, with add-ons, will make the winger one of the most expensive transfers from the Championship in history.
Manchester United had also been asked to be kept informed of developments relating to Oxlade-Chamberlain, but cooled their interest once they realised that Southampton wanted £12m for a player who has never played outside League One.
Arsene Wenger, though, was convinced of his value and, having already spent £11.6m this summer on Gervinho and Carl Jenkinson, has taken his spending during this transfer window to £23.6m.
Arsenal will pay an initial up-front fee of around £7m, although the remaining £5m is expected to follow within the next year.
While pleased to see Wenger spending, most Arsenal fans regard strengthening their defence as the priority. Wenger now also hopes to add a centre-back of proven Premier League experience, with Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Chris Samba still the main three targets.
The futures of Nasri and Cesc Fabregas remain unresolved. There is a clear sense that Wenger will allow one of his star midfielders to leave this summer but the situation regarding both players remains fluid.
Nasri has refused to sign a new contract and is already the subject of a £20m bid from United. City are also interested and expected to launch their own offer this week. Wenger had initially been convinced that Nasri would be happy to stay for one more season, but there is now a clear sense that he wants to leave this summer.
Fabregas has wanted to join Barcelona for the past 15 months even though the European Champions are still yet to meet Arsenal's £40m valuation. Nasri and Fabregas both missed Arsenal's final summer friendly against Benfica on Saturday.
Fabregas will not start the season for Arsenal against Newcastle on Saturday but Nasri is fit and has trained as normal with France ahead of their international tomorrow against Chile.
The speed with which Wenger moved to sign Oxlade-Chamberlain suggests that he is expecting to lose the creativity of Fabregas or Nasri.
"Alex is a versatile player who can play in a number of positions," said Wenger. "He can play as an attacking centre midfielder, or wide left and right. Alex is a perceptive passer and has a great understanding of the game. He will provide us with creativity and offensive quality."
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who celebrates his 18th birthday on Monday, is well aware of Arsenal's reputation for giving young players an opportunity in the first-team.
"Arsenal have a great manager in Arsene Wenger, top quality players and an attractive style of play," he said.
"These were all important factors in me choosing to sign for Arsenal."
Oxlade-Chamberlain will go straight into the first-team squad and immediately begin training at the club's London Colney base in readiness for the start of the new season.
However, he is still likely to feature predominantly in the Carling and FA Cups this season.
Meanwhile, Nicklas Bendtner has confirmed that he will leave Arsenal.
A move out of the Emirates Stadium has been mooted for the 23-year-old Danish striker, who suffered from injury for most of last season.
Speaking at Hampden Park before Denmark trained ahead of tomorrow's friendly against Scotland, Bendtner was asked if he was set to leave the Gunners and he replied: "Yes. I have done my part as well as I can and it's up to Arsenal now to sort it out, I can't do anything more. Hopefully it will be sorted soon." (© Daily Telegraph, London)