Wenger makes first summer signing
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger kicked off his summer transfer spending today with the £1m capture of promising young defender Carl Jenkinson from Charlton.
Wenger is expected to continue his on-going enquiries for experienced new men, however - with Lille's Ivorian forward Gervinho, Bolton defender Gary Cahill and Blackburn centre-back Christopher Samba all reported targets - but in Finland U-19 skipper Jenkinson, Arsenal have secured another leading prospect.
Jenkinson, who qualifies for dual nationality through his mother, broke into the Addicks first team last season and leaves The Valley with glowing reference from his former boss. Chris Powell, the former England defender, said: "I want to put on record how much I admire Carl as player and, more importantly, as a young man. If he grows into the right-back we all feel he could be, we could be talking about a player playing at the highest level for a long time."
It is a dream move for Harlow-born Jenkinson, who supported the Gunners as youngster. He told Charlton's official website, www.cafc.co.uk: "I hope supporters will understand why I can't turn down such an opportunity, but Charlton will always have a special place in my heart. I will always be in Charlton's debt for the training they have given me since a young age."
Arsenal also announced today they have secured England youngsters Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke on long-term deals, along with Dutch youth international midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup. That, though, will not be the news of a big-signing expected by impatient Gunners supporters.
One thing is for certain, though, Wenger will make changes to the make-up of the squad over the coming weeks. Liam Brady, the Gunners' head of youth development, maintains the north-London club will soon complete a number of deals.
"There will be a lot of business done this year and I think we will be spending a bit more money than we have done in past seasons. I think Arsenal will spend this year," Brady told talkSPORT.
However, the former Republic of Ireland midfielder maintained signing talent is never easy, given the competitive market. "Where are the players to go around everybody? It is not only the clubs in England, but also all the big European clubs are in the transfer market," he said.
Midfielder Samir Nasri last night urged Gunners fans to ignore reports he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium. The France international has yet to agree a new deal and is said to be a target for both Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Brady, though, is confident the 23-year-old will soon commit his long-term future to the Gunners. "We all rate Nasri," Brady said. "I believe they had extensive contractual talks but not reached a conclusion, but sometimes it takes time. I am optimistic he will be playing with Arsenal next year."