Arsène Wenger steps up interest in Real Madrid striker
Published 08/01/2014 | 08:41
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger makes fresh inquiry about signing Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata on loan following Theo Walcott’s knee injury.
Arsenal have made a fresh inquiry about signing Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata on loan following Theo Walcott’s knee injury but Arsène Wenger is now virtually resigned to waiting until the summer to secure his longer-term targets.
That list is headed by Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa but there is also interest in Jackson Martínez from Porto, Mario Mandzukic at Bayern Munich as well as the situations in Manchester of Edin Dzeko and Wayne Rooney.
Wenger knows that none of these targets are likely to be available mid-season and he has instead asked his global network of scouts to suggest players who could be recruited on shorter-term deals.
Arsenal want to avoid compromising what might be possible in the summer when wider options are available.
Morata, though, is regarded as a particularly good solution if Real can be convinced that the 21-year-old would benefit from more regular football. For now, the attitude of Real and their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is that no one will be permitted to leave in January.
Wenger will also be well aware of more experienced options this month, including Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov and former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou, who is now at Lille.
With Arsenal preparing for a lighter fixture schedule in January, Wenger does not feel that he needs to rush straight into the transfer market and will also spend time evaluating his internal options.
Although the loss of Walcott until next season is a blow, he is not primarily regarded as a central striker and Wenger does still have replacements wide on the right. Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere have also played in that role this season while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in full training this week after being out since August with a knee injury.
Wenger was hoping to add a striker this month even before Walcott’s injury and that need is further compounded by Nicklas Bendtner’s absence for the next four weeks.
Olivier Giroud, however, is fit again after illness and an ankle injury ahead of the match against Aston Villa on Monday. It is still most likely, then, that Wenger will be forced to wait until the summer before signing a new striker on a long-term contract.
He has been impressed this season by Costa and, with a release clause of £32 million, a deal would potentially be within Arsenal’s budget. The problem at this stage of the season is that Atlético are joint top of La Liga, still in the Champions League and Costa is hoping to force himself into the Spain squad for the World Cup.
Walcott received numerous messages of support on Tuesday as he prepares for surgery on his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and spoke at length to England manager Roy Hodgson.
“It is such a shame that we have lost a player of his calibre for the World Cup, he has been incredibly unfortunate and we wish him a speedy recovery,” Hodgson said. “Having worked with him for two years as England Manager I know the character he has, and I know he will come back even stronger from this setback.”
The Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, have joined the investigation into several fan incidents surrounding the derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on Saturday.
They are assessing anti-Semitic messages that were posted on Twitter and also investigating objects that were thrown from both the home and away sections of the crowd.