Arsene Wenger has moved to calm speculation over a summer bid for Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia. The 20-year-old defensive player is believed to be a target for a number of top European clubs, including Arsenal's Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as Spanish giants Real Madrid.
"I don't really want to talk about Kondogbia too much because everyone's after him at the moment. When you ask 'Are you also interested?' what do you expect me to say?" the Gunners' boss explained, when asked about a possible bid.
In March, the Metro reported Roberto Mancini was considering Kondogbia as a long-term replacement for England international Gareth Barry. A fee of £8m was mooted and it was believed City had opened talks with the Spanish club over a transfer.
However, since then, Madrid have reportedly made a £7m bid and want Kondogbia as a potential replacement for Spain international Xabi Alonso, whose contract expires in 2014 and for whom a new deal has yet to be agreed. Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan have also been linked and bids of £10.3m and £8.6m (plus clauses) are believed to have been lodged. Kondogbia is believed to have a £17m release clause in his contract.
The Gunners have been linked to the signing of a defensive midfielder before the start of next season, with Olympique Lyon's Maxime Gonalons a possible target. However, much depends on Arsenal finishing in the top four this season and qualifying for the Champions League. The club were held to a 1-1 draw on Sunday evening, in a high-profile home clash with champions Manchester United. That result, coupled with Chelsea's 2-0 win over Swansea City, meant Wenger dropped to fourth in the table, with only four games left in the season.
Wenger on United Draw
Wenger claimed the draw against United was a fair result but admitted unhappiness at the defensive error from right-back Bacary Sagna. The French international lost possession to former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie and then fouled him to allow a soft goal for the returning Dutch international.
"It was a fair result. They had chances on the counter and we had a few chances as well. The only regret you have is that we should have gone in to half-time a goal in front. The way we conceded the goal is difficult to swallow. I can only praise the players for the dynamic, the energy and the commitment we have put in," Wenger said.