Wenger keen to bring in Szczesny replacement.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is desperate to add a new goalkeeper to his ranks before the end of the summer transfer window, and CaughtOffside understands he has made Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic one of his targets.
The Frenchman is not convinced that Wojciech Szczesny is ready to be number one for Arsenal, after a series of below-par displays last season that saw him dropped to the bench for Lukasz Fabianski.
Although Fabianski performed well in Szczesny’s place, he has not been able to avoid further problems with injuries that have been a problem for him throughout his career, leading Wenger to look elsewhere for a solution to this particular problem.
Arsenal were linked with Begovic earlier in the summer, though they appeared to be close to signing Brazilian international Julio Cesar from Queens Park Rangers instead. This move eventually became one of many targeted by Arsenal that fell through this summer, and the likes of Iker Casillas have also emerged as candidates for Wenger.
Casillas is an ambitious target though, with Real Madrid likely to ask for over £15million for their long-serving shot stopper, and Wenger is now keen to take advantage of an unusual situation at Stoke to land Begovic.
The Bosnian was a star performer for the Potters last season, playing a big part in keeping Tony Pulis’ struggling side in the Premier League, and his fine form saw him linked with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool as well as Arsenal this summer.
However, with the club securing the signing of promising young goalkeeper Jack Butland this summer, they may now be willing to listen to offers for their first-choice ‘keeper, as they have a very capable backup in reserve.
Begovic started Stoke’s first game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield, putting in another excellent display, suggesting that he would still be first choice this season under new manager Mark Hughes, despite the arrival of Butland from Birmingham City.
However, Butland himself has suggested that he is not entirely satisfied with the situation, and could seek a loan move back to the Championship in order to play more regular first-team football. As the 20-year-old supposedly had offers from bigger clubs before joining Stoke, he is understandably concerned at not being first choice at the Britannia.
Wenger himself has had scouts watch Butland before, but it is thought that it is Begovic he is currently approaching Stoke for, with the knowledge that they may be under pressure to promote Butland to number one.
Begovic has previously committed his future to Stoke, but would be understandably tempted by an offer to play for a bigger club that can offer Champions League football, though it remains to be seen if he is still Wenger’s first choice, or if the Gunners boss will continue to pursue Cesar and Casillas.
Stoke have previously said that Begovic would command a fee of around £15million, and Wenger has never been known to pay big money for defenders and goalkeepers, and may still choose to use his transfer budget on attacking players such as Yohan Cabaye and Michu, who are both being strongly linked with the club at the moment.