It’s no secret that Arsenal need a holding midfielder this summer and Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira has emerged as their priority target.
The 27 year-old has just played an integral role in Germany’s victorious World Cup campaign, but following the signings of Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich and James Rodriguez from Monaco, room is running out in the Blancos midfield and the books need to be balanced at the Bernabeu.
With just a year left on Khedira’s contract, despite rumours of discussions over a new deal, it’s believed the European Champions are prepared to sell for as little as £15million.
But according to Mirror Football, Bayern Munich are prepared to throw a spanner into the transfer works. The Bavarian club, ever shrewd in all matters financial, are allegedly planning to snap up the German international on a bosman move next summer when his contract expires.
Arsene Wenger shares Bayern’s prudence in the market. He, more than any top Premier League manager, has shown a continual restraint in not overspending or making necessary signings, rather patiently waiting for the right player at the right price – even if it comes at a cost of limited progress for a season or two through inadequate depth in certain departments.
No doubt, just like the German powerhouse, he too will be enticed by the prospect of signing Khedira for free in 2015, rather than needlessly splashing out another £15million amid a summer window in which the Gunners have already spent £63million on first-team personnel.
But following news of interest from the Allianz Arena, there is no room for second-guessing. If Arsenal want to capture the signature of one the most highly-rated industrious midfielders in world football, it’s undoubtedly become a case of now or never.
At this moment in time, Arsenal have momentum. They broke their nine-year silverware duck at the end of last season with their FA Cup triumph over Hull City. They’re currently enjoying one of their most progressive transfer windows to date, with the £30million signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, following up on a club-record £42million capture of Mesut Ozil last summer, confirming the Gunners are once again amongst the European transfer elite.
And they’re also welcoming back three World Cup winners in Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski – an impressive contingent of German internationals that Khedira would enjoy being a part of at the Emirates. Likewise, Arsene Wenger has recently agreed a new contract which will see his Arsenal tenure venture into an unprecedented third decade. Right now, they’re an interesting transfer proposition, and Khedira’s arrival would further increase the sense of impetus currently surrounding the Emirates.
That could all change in a year’s time. Gunners fans will understandably have high hopes for the coming campaign, but the Premier League is the most unpredictable top flight in world football. Liverpool proved as much last year, and the coming season now welcomes Manchester United – fuelled and intensified by the arrival of Louis van Gaal – back into the equation, whilst Everton have just forked out £28million for Romelu Lukaku’s permanent signature.
Competition for fourth spot will be as ferocious as ever – let alone the league title. Whilst the impressive end to last season and the signing of Alexis Sanchez gives Arsenal considerable pulling power in the current window, another campaign of lukewarm progress will see that evaporate before summer 2015.
Especially when you compare to the situation at Bayern Munich, whose domination of the Bundesliga and continual involvement in the latter stages of the Champions League appears to have no end. They have a manager in Pep Guardiola that the vast majority of footballers – except for Zlatan Ibrahimovic – are desperate to work under and it has become a long tradition of convention that the best players for the German national team, at some point in their careers, eventually end up representing the Bavarians.
Reaching 28 next summer, the Allianz Arena would be an ideal location for Khedira to see out his peak years with a near-guarantee of regular silverware. The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for Arsenal.
Of course, a more optimistic prediction of next season – perhaps a Premier League title coup – would see next summer pan out significantly differently, and Khedira is by no means the only holding option available to the Gunners this summer. Following rumours of apparent £140k per-week wage demands, the north Londoners have sought alternatives in Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender – Khedira’s understudy in the Mannschaft fold – and Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has made more tackles, 259, and more interceptions, 209, than any Premier League player since the Saints’ top flight ascension two years ago.
But the quality and experience the 27-year-old offers Arsenal cannot be overstated. His inclusion in the Gunners starting XI would turn their weakest department into arguably their strongest, especially alongside last term’s breakthrough star, Aaron Ramsey. And in consideration of his apparent £15million price-tag – that’s around £5million less than Bender’s alleged valuation and £13million fewer than the audacious price Southampton have now slapped onto Schneiderlin following his transfer request – Khedira by far represents the best value-for-money acquisition of the three, even if he will be available for nothing in a year’s time.
Arsenal need Khedira, but the German international doesn’t necessarily need them. If the Gunners pass on a deal this summer, it feels almost inevitable that he will agree new terms with Real Madrid or switch allegiances to Bayern Munich in a year’s time.
Wenger has already shown an uncharacteristic pragmatism in the transfer market this summer and he must extend that to the Germany midfielder, for it has truly become a case of now or never.