Senderos set to join Arsenal exodus
Arsenal are considering finally selling Philippe Senderos this summer. Indeed it is possible that the 23-year-old Swiss defender has played his last game for the club as manager Arsène Wenger said yesterday that he could rest some of those involved in Euro 2008 for Arsenal's last three league matches of the season.
"Maybe I'll have to give the players who go to the European Championship a little breather," Wenger said. However, with Abou Diaby now joining Alexander Hleb and Tomas Rosicky as being ruled out for the rest of the season, and with Mathieu Flamini and Bakary Sagna still injured, that policy may be difficult to implement.
Senderos has not played for Arsenal since the Champions League defeat at Liverpool earlier this month, when he was blamed for two of the goals in a 4-2 defeat. He was left out against Manchester United five days later, with Alex Song retaining his place in central defence for the home victory over Reading last Saturday. Senderos was on the bench for that game.
Wenger has maintained that he still has faith in the defender but it is believed he may be prepared to sell. Gilberto Silva, who turns 32 in October, also appears certain to leave the Emirates this summer, while Arsenal fear that they have lost Flamini, who is out of contract at the end of the season, to Juventus having failed to match his wage demands.
Wenger has said his main priority is to hold on to his young stars, namely Cesc Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb but he is struggling to keep the latter two. Internazionale are courting Hleb and coach Roberto Mancini has confirmed his interest in the Belarussian, who met with Inter officials in Milan before an Arsenal game last month and appears keen to go.
Hleb has two years left on his present contract and Mancini, who has been linked with Genoa's Abdoulay Konko and Gökhan Inler, of Genoa, told the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport: "We have already spoken about the players we would like to sign. We are interested in Hleb, Inler and Konko."
If Hleb, who is banned for Arsenal's final three matches of the season and has been offered a sizeable wage increase by Internazionale, and Flamini left it would cause deep frustration among supporters who are keen for the club to spend big this summer. However, according to one source, it appears likely that Wenger will bide his time, although he will also come under some pressure from the board to secure at least one high profile signing.
Wenger has great faith in Theo Walcott's ability to emerge as a central striker and Song's potential in defence, while he will recall 19-year-old Mexican striker Carlos Vela from his loan at Osasuna. The 20-year-old Bulgarian winger Nikolai Dimitrov could finally arrive from Levski Sofia, while the club continues to monitor players such as the 22-year-old St-Etienne midfielder Loic Perrin.
None of this will make much impression on the cash mountain that Arsenal, despite Wenger's denials, are currently sitting on and which will only grow bigger once the receipts from the development of Highbury Square roll in. According to their last accounts, Arsenal have £64m available, which they have been authorised by their bankers to use on transfers, if they so wish. Wenger does not want the figure broadcast and has been at pains to talk about the need to pay for the Emirates Stadium and not to allow the club's wage bill to rise.
However, he could spend lavishly if he wanted to, although the Lyons president Jean-Michel Aulas has warned that it will be difficult for Arsenal to prise away winger Hatem Ben Arfa from the French club.