Arsenal ready to make shock bid for Villa winger
Published 23:05 02/07/11 By Marc Isaacs
Arsenal are ready to make a shock £20million move for Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing.
The fact Liverpool have not, as yet, completed the recruitment of the England international has prompted the Gunners’ interest.
Manager Arsene Wenger seems resigned to losing star midfielder Samir Nasri and plans to waste no time bringing in a big-name replacement.
Downing, 26, may not be the first choice among many Arsenal fans but Wenger is determined to sign a proven Premier League player who will fit straight into his starting line-up.
Wenger is desperate to end a six-year spell without a trophy and looks to be going against his policy of bringing through the best young talent.
The potential arrival of Downing, and an experienced centre-back like Gary Cahill or Chris Samba, would mark a shift in recruitment policy which fans will welcome. Downing could provide the ammunition for another summer target Gervinho, who looks set to complete his move to Arsenal.
The England winger seems determined to leave Aston Villa as he wants to join a club challenging for silverware next season.
Although Arsenal still have a Champions League qualifier to face, Downing is desperate to play in Europe’s biggest club competition.
And with the European Championships taking place next summer, Downing knows his chances of cementing his place in the England side will improve if he is playing regular first-team football with Arsenal.
Downing has a wealth of top-flight experience and Wenger is convinced he can make him an even better player if he joins the north London club.
Villa boss Alex McLeish has already seen Ashley Young join Manchester United this summer and will be reluctant to see another big name leave.
But if Downing has got his heart set on joining a top club, McLeish will find it hard to stop him leaving for the Emirates.
Wenger hopes a deal can be finalised before the team jets off on their pre-season tour of Asia next week. And resolving the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Nasri is critical for Wenger.
Barcelona remain in pole position to land Fabregas but the clubs have still not agreed a fee. Barca asked for time to review their offer after tabling a £27m bid but have still not substantially increased the amount.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has flown to Argentina to tie up the deal for Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez, who is playing for Chile in the Copa America.
Rosell returns to Spain on Tuesday, when he expects to announce that deals for both Sanchez and Fabregas have been completed.