Ah yes, the war chest – the nigh-mythical noun that only rears its gleaming, diamond-studded head every summer. Like anything truly beautiful, like the flowering of the night-blooming cereus, or the respite of a bank holiday Monday, its existence is fleeting, in this case between the end of May and the beginning of September, before it retreats from the rhetoric of lazy journalists back into the vaults of Premier League oligarchs.
A war chest is not to be sniffed at. To be handed one is a statement of intent, and with it comes great responsibility. One must spend lavishly, ideally on unheralded overseas talent. One must make a roaring start to the season. One must at least qualify for the Champions League. Because if you don’t, how on earth are you going to afford another war chest next summer? Especially with these dastardly FFP rules they’ve got nowadays.
One man who has helped his man qualify for the Champions League, and is set to receive his war chest, is Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger. He will spend lots of it on Juventus’ Arturo Vidal, who will play for Chile in this summer’s Copa America, then sign for the north London club for around the £25m mark, according to reports. Vidal’s Mr 15%, Fernando Felicevich, is also the same suit that brought another Chilean, Alexis Sánchez, to Arsenal last summer, so there a bit of narrative that we can all get behind. The box-to-box midfielder has been integral in Juve’s domestic double-winning season, and may yet sign off by adding a Champions League medal on 6 June.
Wenger will spend the remainder of his treasure on Porto’s Jackson Martínez. The striker has a £25m release clause in his contract and after scoring 28 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions this season, Arsenal are keener than a dog on heat to secure his services for next season. Portuguese paper Jornal de Notícias claim that a deal has already been agreed in principle, with Martínez’s personal terms yet to be thrashed out.
Liverpool rumours are a fickle business at the moment now that Brendan Rodgers might be booking a one-way ticket on the Merseyside cruise line Do One, but the general consensus is that Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke may move to Anfield. The Belgian has two years to run on his contract but the Mirror says Liverpool will use Rickie Lambert as bait to tempt Tim Sherwood into selling, which is an image worth savouring.
Following Borussia Dortmund’s signing of Gonzalo Castro from Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester United have stepped up their interest in Ilkay Gundogan. Louis van Gaal likes the cut of the German’s jib, and would apparently cost around £20m.
Elsewhere, Tottenham have been seduced by the blond locks of Celta Vigo’s Michael Krohn-Dehli, who is available for a free transfer this summer, and Bournemouth are looking at both Crystal Palace’s Dwight Gayle and Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe, who had a loan spell at the south coast club way back in 2001.