Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal are no closer to a deal that would bring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Emirates Stadium as the Gabon striker prepares for a possible first-team return at Borussia Dortmund.
The Bundesliga side revealed an initial bid had been received from Arsenal last weekend after Aubameyang was dropped for Dortmund’s trip to Hertha Berlin as his focus was called into question.
Head coach Peter Stoger had already omitted the 28-year-old from the prior 0-0 draw against Wolfsburg after he missed a team meeting but told a Thursday news conference that his performances in training this week meant selection for the forthcoming visit of Frieburg was a possibility.
Though he was careful not to rule out the transfer at his latest media briefing, Wenger insisted there is plenty of work to do if Arsenal are to add to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s arrival during the transfer window.
“I cannot tell you more. We have nothing to announce today and at the moment we stay where we are,” he said. “We keep our players. We have added Mkhitaryan and lost Alexis Sanchez [to Manchester United].
“Our squad is stable. Will anything else happen? At the moment I would say I don’t know. It is still possible but we are far from being close.
“I don’t give you any special names but it is still possible we recruit someone. At the moment we are not close to anyone.”
Wenger dismissed the suggestion that Olivier Giroud was set to move to Dortmund in part-exchange if an Aubameyang deal could be agreed.
Chelsea have also been linked to the France striker, who Wenger wants to keep in the event of no more incomings, despite largely restricting the 31-year-old to a ‘super-sub’ role in the Premier League this season.
“I want Olivier to stay. I just told you, if nobody comes in then nobody goes out,” he said.
“Maybe one or two young players will go out on loan somewhere but the experienced side of the squad will remain the same unless anybody comes in.
“I have a consistent exchange with Olivier Giroud and we speak about the situation a lot.
“He played all the games in the Europa League and came on to score important goals in the Premier League.
“Everyone wants him to stay and has a high respect for Olivier Giroud in this club. He will get more games and can only leave if someone else comes in.”
Mesut Ozil remains in the final six months of his contract, with new terms still not particularly close.
Nevertheless, Wenger is tentatively hopeful of a more positive outcome to this stand-off than the one that saw Sanchez depart to Old Trafford.
“Our intention is to keep Ozil at the club and hopefully we will manage to do that very soon,” he said.
“We’re not close enough to be optimistic and not far away enough to be pessimistic.
“The vibes I get from his commitment, his focus, his desire and achievement with the team – he behaves like someone who is completely focused and ready to commit.
“After that, contract negotiations are what they are. To tell you if he will do it [sign], I don’t know.”
Santi Cazorla’s contract is also up at the end of the season but the Spain playmaker’s situation is complicated by his dire injury nightmare.
Cazorla’s latest round of ankle surgery means he might not return to action until 2019.
“Medical people will know a lot more than I do whether he will play again in 2018. I’m of the opinion that before the end of the season will be hard for him,” Wenger added. “It’s a complicated situation.
“First of all, we love him. Secondly, he’s a great football player. But the third situation is you need to be healthy today to play at the intensity level that is required in the Premier League. We have to see about that.”