Arsenal are close to securing a £14m deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo, according to the Mail Online. The report claims Arsene Wenger will announce the signing at the end of the week. Although any deal would come late in the summer, it would still cheer up the north London club's fans who see a quality signing as a mark of their team's intent.
"There is nothing concrete yet [when asked about Gustavo]. We hope to play 55 games this season. We are a little bit thin squad-wise. But I am an optimist. This is the first time for many years that we have kept all our important players at the club," Wenger said.
Thus far in the window the Gunners have only introduced French youngster Yaya Sanogo and while Wenger has high hopes for the 20-year-old, his signing (on a free) is very much in keeping with the Wenger model of transfers, something the club was expected to shed this year, particularly with £70m in the bank and an eight-season trophy drought.
A move for Gustavo, who is 26 years old, a Brazilian international and won the Bundesliga and Champions League titles with the Bavarians last season, should be an excellent start.
The former TSG Hoffenheim midfielder made 20 starts for Jupp Heynckes' side last season, scoring four goals. He also played a key role in Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad in June's Confederations Cup, starting all five games en route to the title.
However, his future under new Bayern boss Pep Guardiola is uncertain, particularly after the arrival of Spain youngster Thiago Alcantara. The German champions began their title defence on Friday with a 3-1 defeat of Borussia Monchengladbach; Gustavo was not named in the match squad.
Bayern are understood to be willing to let the Brazilian go, with chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge telling German newspaper Kicker, "If Wolfsburg agrees personal terms with Gustavo, we will then negotiate. If Luiz leaves the club, we will not buy another player."
A move to Arsenal could be good news for Gustavo. This is a World Cup year and his bright performances in June notwithstanding, Scolari may reconsider his starting berth if he fails to get regular playing time at his club.
Arsenal could offer him that and a move to north London will ensure he stays in the Champions League, assuming Wenger can negotiate Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the qualifying round. They may have to fight for him though, with reports linking Chelsea and Vfl Wolfsburg to the player.