LONDON — Arsene Wenger insists Olivier Giroud has not been offered to Borussia Dortmund as part of a deal for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and says Arsenal are still “far from being close” to signing the Gabon forward.
Arsenal have been locked in talks with Dortmund all week, with no apparent breakthrough having been made despite CEO Ivan Gazidis travelling to Germany to lead negotiations.
Wenger refused to be drawn on the prospects of signing Aubameyang, but answered with a flat “no” if Giroud had been offered as part of the deal.
“I cannot tell you more, we have nothing to announce today and at the moment we stay where we are,” he told a news conference. “We keep our players. We have added [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, we have lost Alexis Sanchez, so our squad is stable.
“And will anything else happen? At the moment I would say I don’t know. It’s still possible, but we’re far from being close.”
Giroud was also linked with a shock move to Chelsea in the media on Friday, with the France international keen on getting more playing time ahead of this summer’s World Cup. But Wenger insisted the striker isn’t going anywhere unless a new signing comes in first.
“I want Olivier to stay. If nobody comes in, nobody goes out at the moment,” Wenger added. “Maybe one or two young players out on loan somewhere. But the experienced side of the squad will remain the same unless somebody comes in.
“We lost Theo [Walcott, to Everton], and to lose Theo and Olivier without getting anybody for us would be too many top-class players to leave the club.”
Mkhitaryan could make his debut in Tuesday’s Premier League game at Swansea alongside Mesut Ozil in attack. Both playmakers are quite similar in their playing style, and some have seen Mkhitaryan as more natural replacement for Ozil than Sanchez if the German, who will be out of contract, also leaves the club this summer.
But Wenger is hoping the duo will form a long-term partnership and again hinted that a breakthrough in contract talks with Ozil could be close.
“Our intention is as well to keep Ozil at the club, and hopefully we will manage to do that very soon,” Wenger said. “[We’re] not close enough to be optimistic, and not far enough to be pessimistic.
“The vibes I get from his commitment, from his focus, from his desire for achievement with the team, he behaves like somebody who is completely focused and committed and ready to commit. After that, contract negotiations are what they are. Here we are not close enough to tell you, ‘yes we will do it.'”
Wenger also confirmed that midfielder Santi Cazorla probably won’t play again this season, and that his Arsenal career could be over. The Spaniard recently underwent a 10th operation on a troublesome heel injury that has kept him sidelined since October 2016, and said in a recent interview that he’s targeting a return next year.
“Before the end of the season will be hard for him,” Wenger said.
Cazorla’s Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season, and Wenger said no decision has been made on whether he will get a new one.
“That depends on his medical availability at the top level. We have to assess that until the end of the season,” Wenger said. “If Santi Cazorla is fit and capable to play, yes. If he is not, of course we have to see that.
“It’s a complicated situation, because first of all we love him. Secondly, he’s a great football player. The third situation is that you have to be healthy today to play at the intensity level that is requested in the Premier League, so we have to see if he can do that or not.”
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.