This got a mention in Phil's update on the Sami Khedira rumors earlier today, but I thought it deserved a bit of a deeper look because honestly, there's a lot going on here.
According to O Jogo out of Portugal, Arsenal have had a bid of €30 million (around £24 million) rejected by Sporting for defensive midfielder William Carvalho. Metro says Sporting are holding out for the €45 million (about £36 million) release clause in his contract, or something in the vicinity. Matt Law in the Telegraph claims that the sticking point for Sporting in the initial bid was not the amount, but the timing: Sporting want the full fee up front, as they own only 60% of the player's rights, while the first offer from Arsenal stretched the fee over two payments instead.
That all sounds like some good old negotiation, so surely there would be some fluctuation there as this progresses, if in fact it's a real thing. And there's some question of that.
First, the good news. Tony Leen of the Irish Examiner had this to say, after the reports came out.
O Jogo blow Arsenal cover on moves for midfielder Carvalho. Things gonna have to move fast.— Tony Leen (@tonyleen) July 20, 2014
@LeGrove Was told there was interest there. Was hoping radio silence meant things were still bubbling along. Now with O Jogo story, dunno...— Tony Leen (@tonyleen) July 20, 2014
You may or may not have heard of Mr. Leen, but the reason he's notable is because he was one of the first to report on Arsenal's interest in Alexis Sanchez. Check the timestamps on these tweets:
RTE panel discussing the many qualities of Chile's Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal supporters, cock an ear.— Tony Leen (@tonyleen) June 13, 2014
Decent info stream I have from club indicates Arsenal are far more likely to pursue Barca's Alexis Sanchez than they are Mario Balotelli.— Tony Leen (@tonyleen) June 17, 2014
Rumors abound in Arsenal circles that the "decent info stream" he mentions there is none other than Liam Brady, Arsenal legend of the 1970s and former head of youth development at the club. But one way or the other, he seems to have some knowledge of what's going on in the club, or at least he did in one circumstance. So there's a reasonably good chance that this isn't total bullshit.
On the other hand, there's Jorge Mendes. Mendes is Carvalho's agent as of last year, and he's The Worst. Well, actually he's really good at his job, but for the purposes of this discussion we're not fans. That's because he's really good at getting tons of money for himself and his clients, tends to shop his players around a lot, and Arsenal tends not to do a lot of business with him. We get linked with Mendes clients, but deals often fail to materialize. In fact, it's a bit of a running joke:
He's also Jose Mourinho's agent, and you know if someone's willing to spend a lot of time around Mourinho he's probably an asshole. Here's a profile on Mendes if you're interested, but the point is this: his presence in any deal is typically a Bad Thing for Arsenal.
Of course, Mendes' time of influence has more or less coincided with Arsenal's period of relative thrift in the transfer market, so who knows what could happen now that we're spending money again. This is a new Arsenal - we've spent over £30 million on an individual in each of the past two summers, and while they've both been established world-class players, we really don't know what Arsenal is capable of doing (or willing to do) now. That, though, doesn't mean this will happen.
Reports right now are mildly encouraging, but history makes me pretty apprehensive that this is a thing that could actually happen. We'll see, but at present I am not particularly confident. We'll keep an eye on it.