x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Arsene Wenger thinking of allowing Alex Song to depart Arsenal

Arsene Wenger optimistic team will survive without Robin van Persie.

Arsenal is the preferred destination for a loan spell for Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin.
Arsenal is the preferred destination for a loan spell for Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin.

Nuri Sahin has informed Real Madrid that his preference for a season-long loan to an English Premier League club would be to join Arsenal ahead of Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur. Such a deal, however, hinges on the London club's decision on the future of Alex Song.

As revealed by The National one week ago, Song has already agreed personal terms with Barcelona who believe they will be able to negotiate the Cameroon midfielder's transfer from Arsenal for a maximum of €18 million (Dh81m). Barca's sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta has been involved in discussion over a fee, though Arsene Wenger claims that an official bid has yet to be made.

The Arsenal manager has admitted that having completed the transfer of leading scorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United for a potential £24m (Dh138m), the club is now considering selling Song, who provided as many Premier League assists last season as any player remaining in his squad.

Asked yesterday if Song could depart Arsenal and a replacement be brought in, Wenger said: "Both can happen. This decision is not made. I cannot tell you more."

"We have lost world-class players before and we have always survived."

"We wanted to keep Robin van Persie. The reality is when the player doesn't want to stay, you have two ways - you either force him to stay, or you accept the reality and let him go.

"I've chosen the second solution. I know it's a massive challenge and a massive gamble I took, but I feel that we have the quality to deal with the problem we have."

Aware that Van Persie had provisionally agreed terms on a €13m contract with Manchester City early this year, discussed an alternative deal with Serie A champions Juventus in the spring, and subsequently encouraged United's interest, Wenger entered the transfer window with replacements lined up.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud were bought before Van Persie's exit was finalised.

Another contingency plan has been prepared in case of Song's departure.

Victor Wanyama has been extensively scouted during pre-season and represents a longer-term option, though the Kenya international would have to be purchased from Celtic, who value him at £10m.

Sahin has told Madrid that he will only accept a single-season loan away from the Bernabeu where he struggled to establish himself in Jose Mourinho's side last year and has been deemed surplus to requirements for the new campaign. Liverpool would happily take the Turkey international on those terms, while Tottenham requested that he be included in Madrid's offer for Luka Modric, but neither can offer Champions League football.

sports@thenational.ae