Arsene Wenger today categorically ruled out a move from Germany international Sami Khedira, stating that Arsenal have never been in the running for his signature.
Over the past few weeks the Real Madrid man has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium, only for Wenger to rubbish talk of such a proposition, courtesy of the Daily Express. The Frenchman has instead insisted that youngster Calum Chambers could occupy the defensive role in front of his back four, with the ex-Southampton man charged with providing the sort of cover the likes of Patrick Vieira and Alex Song have done in the past.
This is in spite of Khedira’s vast experience, and the fact that Madrid are seemingly keen to cash in on him following their deal for compatriot Toni Kroos. Carlo Ancelotti will be forced to balance his books having also consented to a significant outlay in the £63 million paid for James Rodriguez, and Khedira is the man many expect to be heading away from Spain.
And yet Wenger harbours no intentions of buying him.
“I don’t know who has put him on the market,” Wenger said.
“Whether it is his agent, or somebody else I don’t know.
“We were never close to signing him.
“Jack Wilshere has come back fit and in midfield we have offensive midfielders, we have box-to-box players, we have quite a few.”
The flaws inherent in the decision
Why Wenger is passing up such an opportunity we will simply never know. In a pivotal season wherein Arsenal are looking to push on and pose a real threat to the Premier League rivals who so effortlessly crushed them last term, a player of the 27-year-old’s experience and pedigree would surely have been just what the doctor ordered?
For the Gunners boast plenty of attacking talents amongst their ranks, and arguably all they need now is a defence-minded midfielder who can impose on the game physically. Since the retirement of Vieira it can be said that they’ve been missing such a player, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve struggled as a result.
Sure Mathieu Flamini can be used as a stopgap, and even Jack Wilshere and the aforementioned Chambers might be able to do a job, but none of them can boast the ability to break up play and enforce order quite like Khedira can.
Best still to come
Madrid may be looking to get shot of him but that by no means indicates that he’s past his best and, as has been proved by the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, it’s not uncommon to see a player peak once he’s been and gone from the Santiago Bernabeu.
In fact Khedira - now rated at £24 million despite his injury riddled last campaign - seems to be growing with each passing year, and his solid showing at the World Cup in Brazil was a culmination of years of steady development.
Chelsea to benefit
Essentially Arsenal’s loss is sure to be Chelsea’s gain, as Wenger’s admission means that Mourinho is now in the clear to land a player he’s worked with before and knows well.
Nemanja Matic and Francesc Fabregas occupy two roles in the three-pronged midfield The Special One is attempting to construct, but the addition of Khedira would give the Blues an extra element moving forward.
The Gunners have made some astute purchases thus far in the transfer window, and optimism is rightly far higher than it was at this point last season. Has Wenger just made one of the biggest mistakes of his career to date by rejecting the chance to land Khedira though?