Arsenal’s transfer kitty is in safe hands with new chairman Sir Chips Keswick, according to former custodian Peter Hill-Wood – but whether manager Arsene Wenger spends any of that on Luis Suarez before the transfer window slams shut remains to be seen.
The Gunners, who failed to win a match as they hosted the Emirates Cup last weekend, maintain there is plenty of hard work going on behind the scenes to strengthen the squad, albeit perhaps not in time to help with the Champions League play-off in a couple of weeks time.
Liverpool, however, remain steadfast that they have no intentions of selling star man Suarez – the forward reportedly considering legal redress to force the club to allow negotiations with Arsenal.
The London club have seen a specific bid of £40million plus £1 – which was believed would trigger the Uruguayan’s release clause – rejected out of hand.
When pressed at the weekend, Wenger insisted he would continue to do negotiations away from a public auction, claiming the club were “on other different cases” as well as Suarez.
Having failed to deliver Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain as the Argentinean striker eventually opted for Napoli instead, Wenger does appear to have several others on the radar, with reports in Romania suggesting a free transfer deal for forward Ciprian Marica was close following his release by Schalke.
So far, though, France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo, who arrived without a fee on a Bosman from Auxerre, is the only confirmed signing.
Vice-captain Mikel Arteta said Wenger and the board were “working really hard” to deliver the players needed to bolster the squad’s long-overdue bid for a sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title, with Keswick - appointed chairman in June after Hill-Wood stepped down following his recovery from a heart attack – heading that up.
The 73-year-old life-long Gunners fan, a former director of the Bank of England, has been on the board since 2005, and Hill-Wood is in no doubt he will help the club drive on with their self-sustaining business model.
“We couldn’t have a better man at the helm than Chips, he’s absolutely first-class,” Hill-Wood said in an interview with the club’s official website, www.arsenal.com.
“There are huge sums of money involved in football now and Chips certainly understands the world of finances better than most – he was a director of the Bank of England and has worked in finance all his life. He has a very good grasp.”
Arsenal end their pre-season preparations with a friendly against Premier League rivals Manchester City in Helsinki on Saturday, when they will again be without captain Thomas Vermaelen, who is recovering from a back problem.
France defender Bacary Sagna has been asked to fill in during the warm-up games as cover for the preferred central partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
The 30-year-old, who is out of contract next summer, has no problems with weighing in wherever it helps the team.
“It is different, but I love learning,” he said on Arsenal Player
“I see myself as a right back, but if I have to cover sometimes or play centre back, I will do it for the club, my team and myself as well.”
Sagna added: “I was injured last season so I didn’t have any pre-season and I think you could see it in my performances.
“I was not as sharp as I used to be so I am very happy to start from the beginning and I am looking forward to win something this season.”
Arsenal have also offered trials to Morocco midfielder Alharbi El Jadeyaoui, who is with French Ligue 2 side Angers and Sebastian Perez from Atletico Nacional, as well as Al Ain talent Omar Abdulrahman, who caught the eye at London 2012 with the United Arab Emirates.
The club are also set to shortly confirm the sale of Ivory Coast forward Gervinho to Roma and also Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh to newly-promoted Crystal Palace.