Arsenal set to splash the cash in £60m swoop
Arsene Wenger renews interest in Germany midfielder Bender with deals for Sanchez and Debuchy nearly complete
Arsenal are planning to resurrect last summer’s pursuit of the Germany midfielder Lars Bender, with Arsène Wenger also closing in on the signings of Alexis Sánchez and Mathieu Debuchy.
Wenger’s three priorities this summer were always striker, central midfield and right-back and, although none of the deals is complete, the club are hopeful of what would be a triple signing of around £60 million.
Arsenal had a £19m bid turned down last summer for Bender, who also signed a new contract at Bayer Leverkusen, but he remains high on the list of targets.
Bender was in Joachim Löw’s provisional 30-man Germany World Cup squad but was forced to withdraw with a thigh injury. At 25, he has been identified as an ideal long-term replacement to Mikel Arteta in the holding midfield position alongside Aaron Ramsey.
Although Arteta has been a rock for Arsenal both on and off the field during what has been a turbulent period since 2011, he is now 32 and out of contract next year.
Talks are scheduled this summer, with Arteta hoping that his contribution over the past three seasons – he has played 124 games – will be given serious consideration. Wenger has tended to offer only one-year contracts to midfielders and attackers older than 30 although he will be keen to keep Arteta as a squad player for at least another season.
As well as Ramsey, his other options in central midfield are quite extensive in theory and include Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Diaby, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, will all go into the season with varying question marks over their fitness following recent injuries.
The most progressed deals are currently for Sanchez and Debuchy, with the players having both indicated a desire to join Arsenal.
Sanchez has been complicated by the ongoing negotiations between Liverpool and Barcelona over Luis Suarez but, according to sources in Spain, agreement is now close on a £32m fee with Arsenal.
Liverpool have had talks with Sanchez's representatives but may now have to settle for a straight cash sale of Suarez. It is understood that Arsenal have a deal agreed in principle with Sanchez but, following Liverpool's competing interest last week, Barcelona's asking price has risen beyond £30 million.
On Debuchy, there is limited difference between Arsenal's £10m and Newcastle's £12m valuations.