Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger kicked off his summer transfer spending today with the £1m capture of promising young defender Carl Jenkinson from Charlton, but was left disappointed as England Under-21 international Phil Jones headed to Manchester United.
Blackburn centre-half Jones, 19, has long been on Wenger’s radar, and the Gunners boss is said to have personally intervened to try to push through a move only for the teenager to follow Chris Smalling in preferring a future at Old Trafford.
Nevertheless, while Wenger will continue his ongoing enquiries for experienced new men – with Lille’s Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, Bolton defender Gary Cahill and Blackburn centre-back Christopher Samba all reported targets – in Finland Under-19 skipper Jenkinson, Arsenal have secured another leading prospect.
Jenkinson, who qualifies for dual nationality through his mother, broke into the Addicks’ first team last season and leaves The Valley with a glowing reference from his former boss.
Chris Powell, the former England defender, said: “I want to put on record how much I admire Carl as player and, more importantly, as a young man.
“If he grows into the right-back we all feel he could be, we could be talking about a player playing at the highest level for a long time.”
It is a dream move for Harlow-born Jenkinson, who supported the Gunners as a youngster.
He told Charlton’s official website, www.cafc.co.uk: “I hope supporters will understand why I can’t turn down such an opportunity, but Charlton will always have a special place in my heart.
“I will always be in Charlton’s debt for the training they have given me since a young age.”
Arsenal also announced today they have secured England youngsters Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke on long-term deals, along with Dutch youth international midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.
That, though, will not be the news of a big signing expected by impatient Gunners supporters.
Gervinho is also said to be interesting Liverpool, who today shelled out some £20million to buy England Under-21 midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.
The 24-year-old striker appears set on a move to the Premier League.
He told www.skysports.com: “My mind is made up, I am leaving.
“I will soon meet the club and let them know, but they understand my feelings that I want to prove myself in a top league in Europe.
“My agents are moving things as I want, people know where my future lies, it is in England.”
Arsenal are already set to face another summer of speculation over the future of captain Cesc Fabregas, with unconfirmed reports in the Spanish press suggesting the midfielder has already agreed to return to boyhood club Barcelona, who saw a £30million bid rejected 12 months ago.
One thing is for certain, though, after another season which promised so much failing to deliver as Arsenal’s quest for honours quickly fell apart following defeat in the Carling Cup final to Birmingham, Wenger will make changes to the make-up of the squad over the coming weeks.
Liam Brady, the Gunners’ head of youth development, maintains the north London club will soon complete a number of deals.
“There will be a lot of business done this year and I think we will be spending a bit more money than we have done in past seasons. I think Arsenal will spend this year,” Brady told talkSPORT.
However, the former Republic of Ireland midfielder maintained signing talent is never easy, given the competitive market.
“Where are the players to go around everybody? It is not only the clubs in England, but also all the big European clubs are in the transfer market,” he said.
Midfielder Samir Nasri last night urged Gunners fans to ignore reports he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium.
The France international has yet to agree a new deal and is said to be a target for both Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Brady, though, is confident the 23-year-old will soon commit his long-term future to the Gunners.
“We all rate Nasri,” Brady said.
“I believe they have had extensive contractual talks but not reached a conclusion, but sometimes it takes time.
“I am optimistic he will be playing with Arsenal next year.”