11th April 2016: Xhaka, Marquinhos and two others linked as silly season starts early

Evening all. Just a very quick round-up for you tonight because we’ve covered the reaction from Saturday’s disappointing draw at West Ham already and with our next game not until Sunday when we host Crystal Palace, it’s very quiet in terms of Arsenal news at the moment.

As is often the case when on-pitch talking points are scarce for the Gunners, transfer links to players supposedly on our shopping list begin to burgeon like Wayne Rooney’s waistline at Christmas. Granit Xhaka appears a very legitimate rumour, with Sky Germany having reported our interest a couple of weeks ago and barely a day passed since without a regurgitation of the story.

Today was no different, with the Evening Standard’s James Olley writing that we’re “confident of making” the Swiss international our first major summer signing. The player reportedly has a 25 million euros buyout clause in his contract but it doesn’t come into effect until the summer of 2017 and the German club are said to be holding out for £35 million for his services in this year’s window.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see but Arsene Wenger refused to rule out his interest in the player when asked about it in his last press conference so my money’s firmly on Granit becoming a Gunner sooner rather than later. Don’t argue with the logic.

Two fresher names being linked with Arsenal are that of 18-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur and Marseille’s 22-year-old Mario Lemina, also a midfielder, and currently on loan at Juventus. I know very little about both but from the briefest of YouTube scouting missions, I can reveal the former’s a typically skillful south American ball player, whilst the latter seems far more defensively minded and boasts a sturdier, more athletic build.

With Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky all expected to vacate our midfield and the club this summer, the chances are we’ll sign at least two central midfielders, so a less proven, younger talent being brought in alongside an established star like Xhaka would make sense.

My choice would be N’Golo Kante (I know he’s not that young – I just want us to sign him), particularly as he already seems to be agitating for a move away from the shock champions-elect Leicester. But then ball distribution is probably one of Kante’s lesser-polished skill-sets and if we’ve missed one quality in our midfield area too often this season in Santi Cazorla’s injury-enforced absence and before Mohamed Elneny arrived from Basel in January, it’s passing.

The last name on the list is PSG’s Brazilian defender Marquinhos, who is reportedly unhappy at his continued role as understudy to compatriots David Luiz and Thiago Silva and is eager to move on this summer. French publication L’Equipe mentioned us as possible suitors in today’s edition but with half of Europe said to be interested were he to become available, it’s difficult to see that one happening.

So just the four names doing the rounds today and that’s with me only taking a half-arsed look around. I’m sure there’s lots more and they’ll continue to grow both in number and frequency as the summer approaches and then unfolds.

With next season being the last of Arsene Wenger’s current contract and the pressure on him to deliver big at levels never seen before, a busy close-season of transfer activity at Arsenal is anticipated. A major overhaul of the squad is in the offing and I for one am pretty excited about that prospect, especially if it involves first team integration for a player already on Arsenal’s books – a certain Wellington Silva.

See you on Tuesday.

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