Everton have issued a hands off warning to clubs that they will not let star midfielder Marouane Fellaini leave the club for anything less than £22million but Arsenal remain interested.
Wenger has been characterised as holding the purse strings tightly in recent years but he is willing to spend big this sum,mer to strngthen the spine of his team and with deals for Real Madrid’s striker Gonzalo Higuain and QPR’s goalkeeper Julio Cesar close to completion he sees the Belgian as the best option for the centre of midfield.
Arsenal initially balked at Everton’s valuation but having had a £18.5million bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender rejected and no sign of the Bundesliga entering into negotiations for anything but an inflated price after selling André Schürrle to Chelsea and Dani Carvajal to Real Madrid already this summer, Wenger may see the price tag as offering relative value.
Fellaini is interested in joining the Gunners and is believed to have already negotiated personal terms that would earn him £70,000 a week if Wenger does sanction a bid to meet the £22million release clause, Everton would have to hope another club is also willing to splurge on the Belgian.
Only Zenit St Petersburg have sounded out the 24 year old so far and he is not keen on leaving the Premier League for Russia and former boss David Moyes is concentrating on taking Leighton Baines to Old Trafford with him.
A potential stumbling block to the deal is that if Everton do squeeze more than the £22million release clause for the player, Arsenal will have to renegotiate the personal terms as Wenger is already reluctant to create an atmosphere of big money egos in the dressing room having resisted the temptation to outspend rivals for his tenure so far.
Fellaini is believed to want closer to £100,000 a week but will take Arsenal’s current offer if it means he can play Champions League football this year though he is unlikely to leave Merseyside for less as he believes that he can afford to spend another year with the Blues before making a move.
If they don’t make progress on the Fellaini move in the coming weeks, Arsenal may make a move for Manchester City’s 32 year old midfielder Gareth Barry as the player is said to be available for less than £4million as the club begin a clear out of older and fringe players.