A lot of transfer talk since my last post...
First up, Karim Benzema. He says he is "honoured at the interest from Arsenal", but has spoken to Mourinho and thinks he will stay. He feels he has something to prove at Madrid, so it doesn't look like Benzema will be coming to the Emirates. I did, however, read somewhere that Real will sell one of Kaka or Benzema, and with Aguero most likely coming in it could be Benzema. On the other hand, they've got a lot of midfielders, so I'd think it would be more likely to be Kaka on his way out of the Bernabeu.
The next story is Chris Samba. wearethenorthbank has the exclusive once more - we have tabled an £8 million bid for the Blackburn centre half. I'd absolutely love it if we signed Samba, although I'm a little unsure if he'd be good in our high line. I think we'll be able to prise him away from Ewood Park, as he said he will have to consider his future.
After 73 goals in 85 league games, Radamel Falcao is a hot prospect. According to the Porto striker's agent, us and Tottenham are willing to meet his £26 million buyout clause. He's an absolute fox in the box, one of, if not the best headerers (is that a word?) of the ball in the world. He'd be a signing of real intent. However, for now, I'd just put this down as agent talk, only attempting to big up his client and get himself more money.
The ever-reliable Young Guns reports that Arsenal representative Richard Law has met up with representatives of Ricky Alvarez's club Velez to discuss a transfer. Early reports that Alvarez was out of contract seem to be false - and it looks like Velez want something in the region of £8 million for their player. I think it's a risk worth taking; he seems like a quality player. Right now I'd rate the deal as 50-50 to go ahead.
Eden Hazard says he doesn't think he'll leave - although he did say "we know that if a big club comes in with a big bid, I'll be off". I'm not sure if we're able to make that big bid, but he'd certainly want to come here if we did. It depends on how much Arsene wants Hazard. Personally, I'd go all out to get him, he really is a huge talent. His comments seem to rule Liverpool out though - he said he wants to play in the Champions League with Lille or a big club next season.
As for departures, Arshavin is staying, which I think is good news. If we can get Hazard and Alvarez in and keep Arshavin and Nasri, we can rotate and keep all four wingers sharp - a little like what United do with Park, Valencia, Nani and Giggs. Carlos Vela's agent says he's still wanted by club, and I think we could do worse than be patient with the Mexican. The ever-reliable Marco Silva says Inter Milan are preparing a £6 million bid for Gael Clichy, and that Almunia has offers in Spain.
Interestingly, he also says Nasri will only sign a new contract when new signings are guaranteed. He claims that this is the reason for Wenger telling us to expect signings in "late May or early June". It would be good to get all our business wrapped up early this year, so there's a lot of time for the new players to gel with the team before the new season starts.
Finally, a little news on the youth front. Sky Sports say we've secured the deals for Barcelona youngsters Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin - apparently both had numerous offers from other top European clubs (and Aston Villa) but chose Arsenal to continue their development. More good academy news comes in the form of Oguzhan Ozyakup signing a new contract at the club. It had seemed like he was off, but it looks like he's decided Arsenal is the place to continue his development.
Before I go, there's a campaign to get a Sunday league manager as the next Chelsea boss. Apparently Martin Grisley is the "Mourinho of Abington Park" and has taken Dynamo FC to new heights. While it's not a very real prospect, Coral have him at 100-1 to be the next Chelsea manager, and will give betting proceedings to Help for Heroes, which is a nice touch. Here's the Facebook page, and there's a bit about him on the Coral site here. All for a good cause.