Newcastle United have rejected a bid believed to be in the region of £12 million from Arsenal for midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
The Gunners, who made a miserable start to the Barclays Premier League season at the weekend and face a crucial Champions League play-off tie against Fenerbahce in Turkey tomorrow night, are believed to have set their sights on Cabaye as manager Arsene Wenger comes under increasing pressure to recruit some high-profile players.
The Frenchman’s future has been the subject of speculation on Tyneside this summer but Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is determined to keep hold of the player. Cabaye has made 73 appearances for the club since joining from Lille in 2011 and has become a firm fan favourite for his energetic box-to-box probing.
Last night Newcastle wasted no time in rejecting a bid they regard as derisory, with Magpies officials understood to value the player at at least twice that amount.
Meanwhile, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust fear that Wenger’s “obsession” with developing young players is damaging the club’s chances of winning silverware.
AST have issued a strongly-worded statement outlining their belief that offering Wenger a new contract would be “inappropriate” and that any decision on extending his stay beyond 2014 should only be made after the transfer window closes.
The group’s key concern is Arsenal’s failure to recruit any new players other than little-known France Under-20 free agent Yaya Sanogo, with attempts to sign Gonzalo Higuain, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez proving unsuccessful. The so-far failed attempt to lure Cabaye has added to the sense of frustration.
“The failings we highlighted in Arsene Wenger holding far too much power have only been amplified in recent weeks. These must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” read the AST’s statement, released yesterday.
“For now the club’s entire focus must be on using the remaining days of the transfer window to strengthen the team significantly.”
Arsenal are reported to have a budget in the region of £70million for new players but with only 11 days of the window remaining, they have yet to spend a penny of it.
Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa and a lengthy injury list that now includes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have brought their lack of transfer activity into sharp focus and Tim Payton, a spokesman for AST, is critical of Wenger’s prudence.
“We don’t know what’s going on but clearly there’s a manager that by his own words isn’t a big fan of spending money on strengthening the team through expensive player acquisition,” Payton said. “His apparent obsession with being a developmental manager is in danger of holding the club back.
“I’m absolutely certain that Arsenal will invest in players before the window closes, but will they be players of the required quality we want to compete to win trophies rather than once again competing to come fourth?
“Arsenal fans pay some of the highest ticket prices in world football and we want to see that invested in top players.”
AST hold majority shareholder Stan Kroenke “ultimately responsible” for the situation and are unsatisfied with the boardroom structure at the club.
Payton denies the timing of the statement is a knee-jerk reaction to the Villa defeat.
“It’s actually the continuation of concerns we have been raising with the club,” Payton said. “We’ve been raising concerns about the lack of football people in the boardroom and who’s managing the manager and his expenditure for a long time.
“Why it was issued after the Aston Villa game is because we’re more than three quarters of the way through the transfer window without a penny being spent despite the huge amounts of cash held in reserve.
“Our squad is palpably not good enough to represent Arsenal effectively in games at the moment. We felt there had to be a challenge to that.”
Arsenal head to Istanbul for tomorrow night’s Champions League first-leg play-off against Fenerbahce reeling from their shock loss to Villa and the knee injury sustained by Oxlade-Chamberlain during the match.
It is feared the England winger could be out for up to six months with ligament damage, casting a cloud over the Gunners’ preparations for a critical match.
Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal and captain Thomas Vermaelen were sidelined for the opener at the Emirates Stadium and with the Uefa deadline for registering new players having passed, Wenger can only rely on the dwindling options already available to him.