Benayoun plans fond farewell, Arsenal eye M’Vila
Yossi Benayoun is plotting the perfect goodbye to Arsenal as speculation mounts that they are about to say hello to France midfielder Yann M'Vila. The Israeli midfielder has revealed he wants to end his loan move from Chelsea by helping the Gunners finish third in the Premier League, with automatic UEFA Champions League qualification set to provide a boost for their summer recruitment drive.
Reports today suggested they were on the brink of completing what would be a club record £17.7m signing of Rennes star M'Vila, who has long been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal appear to be succeeding in conducting their summer transfer business early this year, having been accused of panic signings at the end of the August window after selling Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Benayoun was one of the new arrivals, but has proven a useful addition to the squad in recent months as the Gunners have fought back from a horrendous start to the season to move to the brink of qualifying for the Champions League once more.
The final game of Benayoun's loan spell comes at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, when Arsenal need to win to be certain of finishing third. That could also help deny Benayoun's parent club, Chelsea, a top-four spot but the 32-year-old could not care less.
"Since I came to Arsenal, I have always been committed to one club until the last game of the season," he told their official website. "The only thing I want is for Arsenal to finish in third place - I don't care about anybody else.
"When I finish I will have to decide about my future. I am supposed to go back to Chelsea first and then we will see what the future holds."
Benayoun was pleased with how his loan spell had worked out, adding: "I finish here in a good way. In the last few months, I have been more involved.
"Of course, you want to play and you want to enjoy it, and I think I have played a big part in the last few games. You always remember the end and I am happy with my performances in the last few months."
M'Vila arrival to persuade Van Persie to stay put?
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger must now decide whether to try to make Benayoun's move permanent, but his attention is said to be currently focused on fending off reported interest from Inter Milan in principal target M'Vila. Should he succeed, the 21-year-old would be the Gunners' second summer signing following the arrival of Lukas Podolski.
It would also be another statement of the club's ambitions ahead of contract negotiations with captain Robin van Persie, who will sit down with them this summer to discuss extending his deal which expires a year later.
Winger Theo Walcott also has just a year left on his contract, and he and Van Persie may wait to see precisely who Arsenal bring in during the close season before deciding whether to commit their long-term futures.
M'Vila's arrival would provide much-needed strength in central midfield, where Arsenal have suffered crippling injuries this season. He is also more defensive-minded than many of his prospective team-mates, and would help protect a back four that has been left horribly exposed at times.
Reports suggest he would cost €22m to prise from Rennes, who have lost their last two Ligue 1 games to end any hope they had of qualifying for next season's Champions League. Arsenal's current transfer record is the £15m they splashed out on misfit forward Andrei Arshavin just over three years ago.
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