Arsenal have intensified their pursuit of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin as Arsene Wenger looks to bolster his midfield ranks this summer.
The Daily Mail claim that the Gunners manager has been keeping a close eye on the France international at the World Cup. It claims Wenger was pleased with the performance Schneiderlin put in against Ecuador in as he was keen to see how the 24-year-old would handle the step up in class of international football.
The Gunners have a long standing interest in him and GiveMeSport exclusively revealed last year that Wenger had a transfer window deadline day bid turned down for him. Schneiderlin has been very impressive for the Saints since their promotion to the Premier League and he has improved steadily in the English top flight.
Gunners midfield revamp
Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are currently the two holding midfield options for Wenger, but the report claims the French tactician has been working hard to identify a new addition. It also suggests that much of the Arsenal coaching staff are convinced Schneiderlin is the perfect successor to the current incumbents.
Javi Martinez, Lars Bender and Sami Khedira are all mentioned as targets being watched by scouts. One of those three would be more high-profile than the Southampton man, all play at Champions League clubs and so the fees involved would be far greater.
Most Arsenal fans would probably like to see the Emirates Stadium’s substantially stocked cash reserves spent on more exciting additions, but the signing of Schneiderlin would be very Wenger.
In a previous interview with the former Strasbourg youngster, he revealed that Wenger was interested in signing him when he decided to leave France in 2008. In the end he felt his first team chances would be better at Southampton and so chose the south coast club.
Wenger also played for Strasbourg in his younger days and his reputation for transfers make one think he is just the person to opt for a promising talent from ales vaunted club over an established international. Arsenal may have more money, but it would be naïve to suggest their boss of 18 years had changed that much.
Give him a chance
Arteta and Flamini are probably fine to play at their current level for another season or two, so getting Schneiderlin this summer would allow him the chance to get settled in. He is strong, mobile, a decent passer and is terrific at breaking up play in front of the defence.
Schneiderlin is unlikely to start again for France in the competition and was in the team against Ecuador because Didier Deschamps decided to rest a number of first choice stars, due to them already having qualified for the round of 16. However, Schneiderlin’s place in the squad was down to two injuries, to he has already shown this has been a lucky summer for him.
Wenger may well be keen to see how he performs at the best level, but anything too high-profile and the price will undoubtedly go up. There is also the issue of convincing Southampton to sell one of their star players.
The report claims new Saints boss Ronaldo Koeman is keen to persuade Schneiderlin to stay after losing Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and the likely departure of Adam Lallana. The latter of the three is currently captain, but Schneiderlin would be a prime candidate to replace him.
Koeman may find persuading him to stay quite difficult, as he dropped a rather large hint last week that he is ready to join the Saints exodus and go on to “big occasions”.
Young, promising and French? It’s got Arsenal written all over it.