Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is set to step up his summer recruitment drive after a deal was agreed with Barcelona for “fantastic” Chile international Alexis Sanchez.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder completed his medical in London on Thursday, the two clubs reported to have agreed a deal in the region of £30million, and will join up with his new team-mates at the end of July after spending some time on holiday following the World Cup.
Arsenal are also expecting to imminently close a £10m transfer of France defender Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle, with Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo another reported target.
Press Association Sport understands a defensive midfielder is also on Wenger’s wanted list. Arsenal have been linked with both Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender and fellow Germany international Sami Khedira, although his reported high wage demands could derail any potential deal.
There is no doubt, however, that bringing in Sanchez – who also had interest from Liverpool and Juventus – will present something of a personal coup for Wenger.
The Gunners boss is understood to have spoken to the player face to face while working for French television at the World Cup in Brazil, convincing him Arsenal was the right place to further his career.
”As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal,” Wenger said on the club’s official website.
”Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks.
”He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad.“
Sanchez helped Barcelona win the 2013 Primera Division title and is expected to feature in the Emirates Cup at the start of August.
The Chile international, who helped his side reach the last 16 at the World Cup before losing on penalties to hosts Brazil, is relishing the new challenge.
”I am so happy to be joining Arsenal – a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London,” Sanchez said.
”I am looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League. I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”
Arsenal know they must continue to work on bringing in other reinforcements if the FA Cup winners are to mount along-overdue sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title, having been clear at the top in January only to fade away and finish fourth.
While Debuchy will represent a Premier League-ready replacement for Bacary Sagna, who left on a free transfer to Manchester City, there is also need to sign at least one goalkeeper after number two Lukasz Fabianski joined Swansea following his last appearance at Wembley.
Wenger will return to Arsenal’s Hertfordshire base after the World Cup final, ahead of a trip to New York at the end of the month, where the Gunners will tackle former captain Thierry Henry’s Red Bulls.
After games against Benfica and Monaco at the Emirates Cup, Arsenal then return to Wembley to take on Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on August 10, before starting the new Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace the following weekend.