Arsenal will spend £30MILLION on stars to stop fan backlash
Published 23:02 14/06/11 By Martin Lipton
Arsene Wenger is looking to make a £30million statement of transfer intent to head off a growing Arsenal fan backlash.
Gunners chief Wenger is close to landing £12m Ivory Coast striker Gervinho from French champions Lille.
The Arsenal boss is also keen to push through a deal for a centre-back - either Blackburn captain Christopher Samba or Bolton's Gary Cahill.
And as Emirates chief executive Ivan Gazidis implicitly accused Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy of making unacceptable wage demands, it emerged that Wenger is tracking striker Leandro Damiao of Brazilian side Internacional and AIK Stockholm's Sweden Under-21 full-back Alexander Milosevic.
Gervinho, who has also been on the wish-list of Spurs and Newcastle, looks set to be the first major arrival of the summer.
Lille general manager Frederic Paquet revealed: "He actually wants to go and expressed his desire to leave for England.
"We have developed contacts with Arsenal. We will soon discuss with them to see what they want and see what they offer - but he is a player of value."
The move comes after Gazidis and Wenger came under sustained inquisition at a meeting of Arsenal supporters.
The chief executive had to reiterate his "100 per cent support" for Wenger, who has transformed the club since his arrival in September 1996.
As some fans' groups spoke of a potential "mutiny" if Wenger did not splash the cash this summer and reap tangible reward, Gazidis was pressed on the fact that Nasri and Clichy appear to be on their way out for nominal fees - way below their true market values - this summer to avoid them walking out for nothing in 12 months time.
After insisting he did not want to "discuss individual players", Gazidis added: "Every single club makes mistakes and certainly we do as we go through the journey. But almost everybody who analyses this area looks at Arsenal as a role model for efficiency of spending.
"We try to avoid the situation where valuable players are allowed to run down their contracts but we also try to avoid the situation where spending runs to unsustainable levels.
"Sometimes those two things are inconsistent and you need to make a judgement call and draw a line. We do that as well as we can and better than most."
That means refreshing the squad, with Samba appearing the more likely defensive arrival, especially with Manchester City and their bottomless cash reserves also on Cahill's trail.
Damaio, 21, who is also a Tottenham target, ironically made his Brazil debut at the Emirates against Scotland earlier this year. He boost Wenger's fire-power and potentially open the way for Andriy Arshavin's mooted return to Russian football.
Spurs had made the running for the £10m-rated striker but Arsenal can offer him Champions League football rather than the Europa League.
Liverpool are also interested in Milosevic, who is still in his teens.