Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made a last-ditch bid to take rising Arsenal star Francis Coquelin to Napoli yesterday that Arsene Wenger was forced to brush aside.
According to the Daily Express, citing Sky Italia, Napoli were keen on getting their hands on the Gunners midfielder in a shock move but, although he has been a fringe player up until recently, the north London giants refused to play ball.
Having returned from dismal loan spells at SC Freiburg and Charlton Athletic, Coquelin has become perhaps the most talked about name at the Emirates Stadium. His introduction to the first-team fold on a regular basis has seen a positive upturn in results, with the Frenchman having played a key role in the wins over both Manchester City and Aston Villa.
With Wenger having confirmed only last week that he would handing Coquelin a new contract it appears that his status with Arsenal is at an all time high, this just months after it looked a certainty that he would leave the club accompanied by little fanfare.
Indeed it should come as no surprise that certain clubs in Europe were ultimately interested in striking a deal for his services in January, and the fee his signature would command would be far less than other, more reputable, options.
That’s a point that Wenger may have to consider come the summer, with it having been widely reported that he’s on the hunt for a new ball-winner in the middle of the park. Prior to Coquelin’s triumphant return the likes of Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak and Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin were hotly linked with Emirates moves, and the speculation has hardly died down surrounding the latter of those two names.
Sources claimed only yesterday that the Saints star has agreed to a switch to Arsenal at the end of the season, having rejected interest from both Liverpool and Manchester United in the process.
Whether or not these rumours are substantiated by truth remains to be seen, but Wenger might not need Schneiderlin if Coquelin can continue in his current vein of form.