Arsenal have finally managed to offload Alexis Sanchez, whose contract was running out in the summer, and received Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a part of the swap deal with Manchester United.
Having been a fan of Mkhitaryan for a long time, Arsene Wenger admitted during a press conference that he tried to convince the Armenian to sign with Arsenal in 2016 before he joined United.
“Yeah, I met him at the time,” Wenger said. “At the time we were close, but in in the end it didn’t work.”
The 29-year-old instead signed with United in a £30 million deal, becoming Jose Mourinho’s third signing at Old Trafford.
However, he failed to live up to expectations in Manchester, just making 39 league appearances in one and a half seasons.
Talking about his time at United after the exit, Mkhitaryan said he enjoyed every moment playing for the club.
“I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Manchester United players and staff, and especially the fans for your love, passion and support. I enjoyed having the honour of contributing to the history of your great club by winning the Europa League.
“I will always cherish the memory of that moment and that match. And of my Boxing Day scorpion kick and of hearing the song “Whoa Mkhitaryan…” every time I stepped onto the pitch. I could name many more memories, I enjoyed every moment we shared and cheered together.
“At this stage of my career, I simply have to enjoy myself on the pitch and play. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the best of luck to all of you! Life goes on.”
Meanwhile Wenger spoke further about how the new addition would fit into the club, and revealed that he plans to use Mkhitaryan as deeper-lying central midfielder in order to squeeze him into the starting line up together with Mesut Ozil.
“Personally I see him first wide, but I’m thinking about as well that for him it’s a possibility to play through the middle,” Wenger said. “[As a No. 10] or even deeper.”
This could mean bad news for the current Arsenal midfielders, such as Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey, especially if the club signs another forward to play two at the top with Alexandre Lacazette.
Wenger, though, played down the chances of more Arsenal players leaving, and guaranteed that everybody will get a good amount of playing time.
“Some will have to be in and out. But on the other hand, we have seen that Ramsey has been out many times, Wilshere as well. We play in many competitions. You have a number [of players] you can fit in,” he said.
“In football teams there is a number that pushes you, a number that makes you asleep and a number that paralyses you. So you have to find the right number in each squad to have a fair competition.”
Francis Coquelin, who plays his trade as a holding midfielder, has recently departed Arsenal for Valencia, while Santi Cazorla has not played since October of 2016.
Wenger Confirms Talks of Swap Deals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
During the same press conference, Wenger revealed that Arsenal aren’t close to striking a deal in negotiations for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although many options are bing discussed.
It has been reported that Aubameyang has already agreed to join the Premier League outfit, and the deal is only stalling because Dortmund want to sign a proper replacement before selling their top scorer.
The Bundesliga side is understood to be interested in Arsenal’s and wants a swap deal with the player plus cash for Aubameyang.
Wenger also confirmed the talks of a potential swap deal between two strikers, but he assured yet again that no agreements have been made as of now.
“Look, the negotiations are not as far as that,” Wenger said. “You never know how close they [negotiations] are. These are the kind of things that, at the moment, are one of the possible movements.
“We have other things in mind as well and we have plenty of opportunities in different positions. The final decision is not made.
“Confident or not confident? I don’t know. At the moment, we are not close to doing any deal, whether it’s Aubameyang or anyone else.”