MANCHESTER: Arsene Wenger’s transfer dealings will not for the first time dominate deadline day on Wednesday as the Arsenal manager tries to secure the signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aumbeyang in a deal he admits is “complicated”.
Wenger – who kept the football world on tenterhooks last August as he held out selling Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City because he failed to secure Thomas Lemar from Monaco – has persuaded the board to offer a club record £60 million ($84 million, 68 million euros) for the Gabonese marksman.
However, the 28-year-old’s move likely depends on Dortmund securing a replacement, thought to be Belgian international Michy Batshuayi from champions Chelsea, and the latter getting French veteran Olivier Giroud from the Gunners.
Wenger would prefer not to let Giroud join a major rival having already seen Sanchez move to Manchester United earlier this month but the French striker is keen to stay in London as he seeks regular first team action to secure his place in France’s World Cup squad.
“Every detail can make deals and the deals nowadays are so complicated that, so long as you have not finished it, you cannot be too confident – it doesn’t help too much,” said Wenger after his side lost 3-1 to Premier League strugglers Swansea on Tuesday.
Aubameyang would alleviate the pressure on French striker Alexandre Lacazette, whom Wenger shelled out a record £46.5million in August, although he would be ineligible for the Europa League having already played in the Champions League this campaign.
Further complicating matters is that the German transfer deadline is at 1700GMT as opposed to England’s at 2300 GMT.
Elsewhere runaway leaders Manchester City have lodged a surprise £60 million bid for 2016 champions Leicester City’s Algerian star Riyad Mahrez, who ignored manager Claude Puel’s pleas for him to stay by putting in a transfer request.
However, Leicester is unlikely to let the 26-year-old – who was a key player in their stunning title success in 2016 and who has returned to form this term after a dip last season – leave for less than £90 million.
City has lost influential Germany winger Leroy Sane for up to seven weeks with an ankle injury and with the club competing on four fronts Guardiola suggested he may require a replacement.
“Right now, it’s the same as (Alexis) Sanchez it’s not the place to talk about it. It’s so difficult,” City manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday when asked about Mahrez.
“If things are not possible, then nothing is going to happen. We don’t have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.”
It’s not just the top clubs involved in the frenetic last few hours of a January that apart from Sanchez becoming the highest-paid player in the league – on a reported pre-tax £500,000 a week – has seen City pay a record fee of £57 million for young French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao.
Tottenham too are getting close to signing Brazilian Lucas Moura, who has fallen out of favour at French giants Paris Saint Germain with the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
PSG apparently want the majority of the £26.5 million fee paid up front.
Those fighting to remain in the cash-rich upper echelon will also get in on the act with Swansea – whose win over Liverpool saw them move out of the bottom three – seeking to bring Ghanaian striker Andre Ayew back to Wales.
The Swans are hoping to sign the 28-year-old for around £18million according to the London Evening Standard – having sold him to the Hammers for £20.5 million in 2016 – but the London side who have only Javier Hernandez as their one fit striker will want to bring in a replacement.
Watford’s long-time servant Troy Deeney could fill the void and is valued at £16 million to leave the club he has been with since 2010.