With less than two days until the transfer deadline, Arsenal fans will be hoping that the team can bolster the squad for a chance at a Champions League place next season. With an injured [and leaky] defense, a packed schedule, and a hunger to rise in the table — there are some positions that need to be addressed to get the Gunners back where they want to be.
The big news of the day. Mikel Arteta pushed through his first business as manager, reuniting with defender Pablo Mari from Flamengo. After conflicting reports of the deal being done — then off the table, then finally back on again — Mari signed for Arsenal on loan [with an option to purchase]. You can read all about the new defender here or here, where TSF has profiled the player in-detail. Here is a short snippet from our most recent article on Pablo Mari: “Mari is a left-footed centerback, the first primarily left-footed player the Gunners have signed at the position since Thomas Vermaelen in 2009. He is tall (6’4), strong in the air, and reportedly at least a good enough passer to get by in Mikel Arteta’s system. Mari is comfortable playing in a high-line, pressing system and reportedly very good at organizing the defense, which would make him a good fit in North London”.
Now to the rumor mill.
The signing of Pablo Mari likely means the end of pursuing 23-year old Shakhtar Donetsk defender Mykola Matviyenko. However, don’t be surprised if Arsenal make a midnight hour move for another defender before the deadline — and Matviyenko would surely help solidify the knackered Arsenal back line. A versatile young talent who can play every position, Matviyenko started all six Champions League ties for Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukrainian club are asking for €36M+ for their young starlet, meaning a loan move would be the only likely outcome.
The more likely rumor is Southampton defender Cedric Soares making a move to London. The experienced Portuguese right-back is available on a free at the end of the season, but a £5m loan fee could see him move to Arsenal in the coming hours ahead of a possible permanent move over the summer. Hector Bellerin’s slow return from injury and Calum Chambers absence for the remainder of the season underscores a need for depth at RB. Adding Soares would also mean Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have more freedom to play his desired midfield position. Ornstein says to expect this one to go through:
Expectation is Arsenal will complete signing of 28yo Portugal full-back Cedric Soares from Southampton within 24hrs. Loan until end of season will earn #SaintsFC £5m inc full salary cover + put #AFC in pole position if they want permanent when free agent in summer @TheAthleticUK— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) January 29, 2020
The Layvin Kurzawa rumor is now all but dead. There was initial interest from Arsenal for the Paris St. Germain defender, who would cover for Kieran Tierney until he returns in March, then compete for the spot or back up the Scotsman. While this rumor gained some traction a few weeks back, it petered out. The biggest setback in this deal was gossip that Juventus agreed to a deal that would see Kurzawa in Turin and Mattia De Sciglio the other way. The Juve deal appears to have fallen through as well, and now Kurzawa will likely be marooned in Paris for the remainder of the season. A more recent reports suggest that while Edu wanted the Frenchman, Arteta did not approve of the signing. Anyway, it Saka seems is performing admirably in the role!
On the attacking side of things, Thomas Lemar will not be leaving Spain this transfer window. After Lemar failed to break into the starting XI with Atletico, rumors that Arsenal were interested in him started circulating this month. That speculation ended after Atletico’s chief executive stated that Lemar will be staying at the Wanda through the end of the season. It’s a letdown for Lemar, who needs to be playing ahead of France’s Euro 2020 squad selection.
The Athletic reported earlier this week that Dani Ceballos might cut his Arsenal loan short because he is unhappy with his playing time and the lack of communication from Mikel Arteta. While Arteta stated Dani can expect to stay until the end of the season, rumors keep popping up of him returning to Spain. Valencia are rumored to be in contact with Ceballos’ parent club to try and see a move through before February 1st.
A worrying report from Spain states that Aubameyang could be on his way to Barcelona, with the Catalans needing a replacement for injured Luis Suarez. There hasn’t been anything from the Arsenal side of things, however. Aubameyang said he was “100% committed” to the Gunners less than a month ago, and there hasn’t been any indication from Arsenal that they are willing to sell him. Nonetheless, this rumor has me sweating, but that might be due more to the recent arrival of a shiny, new #14 Arsenal kit than to any genuine concern that Aubameyang might leave. Then again, stranger things have happened, and the €60m number floating around makes me nervous. C’mon February 1st! Hurry up and get here!
Should be a fun last few hours in the market.