Arsene Wenger confirms talks over Aubameyang-Giroud transfer
LONDON -- Arsenal are still "not close" to any deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang according to Arsene Wenger, who added that the Gunners could still explore other possibilities in the transfer market.
Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis has travelled to Dortmund as part of an Arsenal delegation trying to wrap up a deal for the Gabon striker, but Wenger remained coy on how confident he was of signing the player.
"Confident or not confident? I don't know. At the moment, we are not close to doing any deal, whether it's Aubameyang or anyone else," Wenger told a news conference on Tuesday.
Dortmund reportedly want Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud as part of any deal, but Wenger said it was premature to speculate about such a move.
"Look, the negotiations are not as far as that," Wenger said. "You never know how close they [negotiations] are. These are the kind of things that, at the moment, are one of the possible movements. We have other things in mind as well and we have plenty of opportunities in different positions. The final decision is not made."
While Wenger remained tight-lipped, he couldn't resist a quick joke about the situation that seemed to indicate an underlying confidence. The initial question about Aubameyang was interrupted by the sound of microphone feedback ringing out in the room, to which Wenger quipped: "That was him, maybe, standing on the line."
Arsenal finally wrapped up a deal on Monday that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrive from Manchester United in exchange for want-away star Alexis Sanchez, who could otherwise have left for free in the summer. The Gunners have also sold Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin this month, but Wenger denied reports that Danny Welbeck could be on his way out as well.
"No, I want Danny Welbeck to stay here," he said.
Whether Aubameyang becomes a Gunner or not, Arsenal are clearly looking to strengthen the squad further in January.
"It depends on the opportunities we have. We can buy players. We are busy on all fronts, so overall I think we are open-minded," said Wenger, who has traditionally been reluctant to do business in the winter transfer window.
"Every opportunity we have to strengthen our squad, we'll take. If people want to buy some of our players, we have [examined that] -- players who have less chances to play, we have done it, who deserve to play because they are great players, who have left us. After that, we'll see at the end. There's still a lot that will happen as usual on the transfer market."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.