With the official announcement last Friday that Arsenal have completed the transfer and signing of defender Thomas Vermaelen from Dutch club Ajax, focus among the club and its supporters turns to the next potential target to bring to the Emirates Stadium for the 2009-10 season.
Most “experts” believe that a defensive midfielder needs to be added to the Gunners squad for it to be considered a legitimate threat for the Premiership title next season, and rumors have made the rounds in the media as to just whom Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis may be after in that regard.
One of the potential names is Brazilian Felipe Melo, a midfielder I’ve had the chance to see in action (on TV) with his country’s Confederations Cup team in South Africa. He played in all three group games this past week — scoring with a header against the United States — as Brazil advanced to the semifinals where it will meet the host nation.
The 25-year-old robust midfielder plays for Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A, and has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for a while now. Reports from some media outlets have linked Melo with an eventual move to Arsenal since before the January transfer window last winter.
But, as usual, recent transfers completed by Arsenal have been anything but straightforward, with Andrey Arshavin’s move even extending a day past the January deadline after a month-long saga.
And it seems that the requisite pieces are in place for the potential Melo signing to become another drama-filled scenario this summer — with the player and his agent offering mixed signals in regard to the Gunners’ interest, his current club reporting that he’s under contract and not for sale, and other major European clubs indicating interest amidst rumored bids for the Brazilian.
Wenger may miss out on the midfield enforcer after reports in the Italian press indicate that Inter Milan had offered Fiorentina a large cash bid, and/or a cash-and-player deal, in an attempt to steal away Melo.
There’s even rumors of interest from Real Madrid. Melo did spend a few seasons in Spain, playing for Mallorca, Racing and Almeria between 2005 and 2008, before joining Fiorentina. So, those in the know at Madrid must be cognizant of his capabilities, though they seem intent on luring more higher-profile names to the Bernabeu at the moment
Some of the latest on this transfer possibility includes a recent article in The Daily Mail that Fiorentina are “keen on Philippe Senderos,” which could pave the way for Arsenal’s bid for Melo to be preferred. According to the report “Switzerland international Senderos has been on loan from Arsenal to AC Milan and admits he would welcome a return to Italy next season.”
And Monday evening, Talksport Radio included a segment on possible summer transfers with Italian pundit Gabriele Marcotti, who believes that a deal between Arsenal and Fiorentina for Melo is in the works.
Even if that’s the case, Arsenal would have to wait for Brazil to finish the Confederatios Cup before they can speak to Melo. Yet Marcotti believes that Melo’s agent has spoken to Arsenal and is happy with their proposal.
Far from a done deal then, expect this to be drawn out over the coming days and possible weeks and be affected by a number of things, including the financial clout of the other European giants interested in the Brazilian’s services and the potential impact of Senderos on the transfer proceedings.
In other words — and with a play on words — we’re sure to see another melo-dramatic saga play its way out this summer as Arsenal is among a number of clubs pursuing the talented Brazilian midfielder.