Wednesday 13 November 2019

Arsenal eye up loan move for Chelsea's Michael Essien

Arsenal have made an inquiry for Chelsea’s Michael Essien as Arsene Wenger attempts to reinforce his midfield ahead of tonight’s closure of the transfer window.

Essien is yet to start a game for Chelsea so far this season and it is understood that Arsenal’s interest has centred on the possibility of a season-long loan. Chelsea, though, would be mindful of loaning one of their players to a Premier League rival and, despite his previous injury problems, they do regard Essien as potentially useful cover at the base of their midfield.

Wenger does hope to make at least one signing today, with Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa another potential target, but there will be no repeat of last year’s deadline day shopping frenzy. Indeed, Wenger launched an impassioned defence of his strategy yesterday as Arsenal again head towards the closure of a transfer window in profit on their player trading.

It has been a familiar pattern for Wenger to at least break even in the transfer market since moving to the Emirates in 2005 and, after the early expenditure for Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, he has since more than covered that outlay by selling Robin van Persie and Alex Song.

Wenger said that he might still spend today if a “top, top player” became available but he also stressed that he regards the squad as sufficiently strong to challenge for major trophies.

“I am relaxed,” said Wenger. “We have enough players, that is for sure, but you want always to improve your squad. We have resources available so if it is not happening now it will happen in December. But we believe strongly that we have the quality in our squad to do very well.

“We bought Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud so you cannot say we have not bought but, when you listen to people, you always have to buy more.”

Asked what could really strengthen the squad, Wenger pointed to the treatment room and the long-awaited returns of Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky.

“Getting our injured players back is the best way for us to strengthen the squad,” he said. “We do not just want to bring average players in. Spending in itself is not a quality. Buying good players is a quality, better players than you have is a quality.”

Wenger also outlined his confidence that Theo Walcott would still sign a new contract, despite allowing the 23-year-old to enter the final year of his current deal.

“His situation is simple - that he will stay with us and play for us,” said Wenger. “At the moment it is very difficult to predict what we will do. He loves the club, and maybe we can find an agreement at some stage. Theo is 23. He’s English, he basically lives 10 minutes from here. So hopefully we can find an agreement.

“He’s not money obsessed. He does not say, ‘it’s that, or not’. There are little differences in negotiations that can happen. He is developing very well. He is intelligent, a good finisher.”

Walcott has been offered a five year contract worth £75,000-a-week but, mindful of the going rate for comparable England internationals, is hoping for a deal closer to £100,000-a-week. Wenger, though, indicated that there were clear wage boundaries for a player of

Walcott’s age compared to more experienced professionals. “It is of course different for a 29-year-old player than for a 23-year-old player,” he said.

By Jeremy Wilson

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