Arsenal close in on Nigerian teenagers
Arsene Wenger is confident of pushing through deals for Nigeria teenagers Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze before the transfer window closes on Monday and would still like to sign Ben Chilwell from Leicester City.
Negotiations to sign Nwakali and Chukwuese in a combined £3 million deal are almost complete and there have also been talks with Leicester over Chilwell, for whom Arsenal had a £3.5 million offer turned down last summer.
Chilwell is seen as an eventual successor to Nacho Monreal, despite making only three senior appearances for Leicester, and has been scouted frequently in Leicester’s under-21 games and during his recent loan spell at Huddersfield Town.
Nwakali was named player of the tournament at the Fifa U17 World Cup last year, while Chukwueze was also among the leading performers in the tournament, but neither player would be involved in Arsenal’s first-team squad this season.
Wenger also confirmed that Mohamed Elneny (pictured above) is set to make his Arsenal debut on Saturday against Burnley in the FA Cup while Francis Coquelin could make his comeback following more than two months out with a knee ligament injury. "I will play with a Premier League team,” said Wenger. “The team news is quite good because we have many players back in full training and who is out is only Wilshere and Cazorla. There are 23 players in training at the moment. Welbeck still needs some training but he is back in full training.”
Of Coquelin, he said: “He gives us defensive stability in midfield. Before he was injured he had a very good spell in the team. The results were good and his defensive record was very good so he is now in the position where he can compete again for his position.
“Elneny is naturally a box-to-box player but is more defensive minded than your usual box-to-box player so he can play in both positions. He has good technique, good vision, quick decision making and is very mobile and agile.” Wenger also said that there had been no talks about his own contract, which still has 18 months to run, but that he could not ever see himself managing at another club.
“You know that 18 months today for a manager is an eternity,” he said. “I am completely focussed on doing well and give everything until the end of the season and then go for the next season hopefully.
“I don't imagine at this moment to manage anywhere else. Will I stop working once I stop managing at a competitive level? No, I will always try to work if I have health and try to be useful. Maybe it will be a different level. It could be managing kids or developing young players.”
Wenger also confirmed that Mathieu Debuchy may leave on loan in the next 48 hours and that Carl Jenkinson was now out for six months after suffering a knee ligament injury.
“I have a number of people who can play right back so I open the door for him [Debuchy] because at the moment he does not play and he has Bellerin in front of him,” said Wenger.
“We have 23 players in training and plus two (Cazorla and Wilshere) is 25 and unless people go out we are not on the verge of bringing anybody in. We have quality and the number of players that we need.”