Hong Kong: Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger on Saturday denied speculation that the club was about to buy Spanish winger Santi Cazorla, saying it were “not close to signing anybody”.
Speaking in Hong Kong where the north London club are on the final leg of their pre-season tour of Asia, Wenger dismissed recent rumours that the Gunners had agreed terms with the highly rated Malaga player.
“At the moment we’re are not close to signing anybody,” Wenger told reporters in the southern Chinese city a day before his side were due to take on local outfit Kitchee.
“And when we do we will inform you,” he added.
The Arsenal boss has already brought in German striker Lukas Podolski and French forward Olivier Giroud this summer with reports suggesting that a fee of around 16 million pounds had been agreed with Malaga for their 27-year-old star playmaker.
Wenger expressed his admiration for the player during a press conference in Beijing earlier this week but his comments Saturday suggested a deal now looks far from complete.
The news will disappoint Arsenal supporters who are keen to see the squad strengthened, especially while the future of club captain Robin van Persie remains in doubt.
Van Persie, 28, won both the Players’ and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards last season, but stunned fans when he declared after Euro 2012 that he wanted to leave because he felt the club’s ambitions did not match his own.
A visibly irritated Wenger, who has been asked repeatedly about Van Persie during the Asia tour, refused to be drawn Saturday on whether the Dutchman would still be at the club come the start of the season.
“I can understand it interests journalists but I have nothing special to say about him and the day we have to say some something, don’t worry, we will come out and inform you,” he said.
“All the rest is only speculation and makes maybe good newspaper articles but it doesn’t help us much to play football.”
The Arsenal manager, however, hinted that he was thinking about life after the Dutch striker, who has refused a new contract offer, saying that there were always young players who could follow in Van Persie’s footsteps.
“Van Persie was behind Thierry Henry when he started to play and people said to me, ‘You have Thierry Henry but you play Van Persie but he’s not good enough.’
“Today he is the name but behind (Van Persie) there will be somebody who will make a name.”
Arsenal play Kitchee at the 40,000 capacity Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 1000 GMT.
It will be the north London club’s third and final game of their tour of Asia.
On Tuesday they defeated Malaysia XI, a select squad of Malaysian League players, 2-1 in Kuala Lumpur. Friday saw them lose 2-0 to Manchester City at Beijing’s Bird Nest stadium.