Wenger plots late move for Liverpool target Stewart Downing

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Arsene Wenger is planning to hijack Liverpool’s £15m bid for Stewart Downing as he begins to consider life without Samir Nasri.

Nasri is currently on tour with Arsenal in Asia but is expected to finalise a move to either Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea upon return, and Wenger wants a deal for Downing wrapped up before letting the Frenchman leave.

Wenger does not want to lose Nasri but with three clubs all interested in the Frenchman, Arsenal are in a strong position to negotiate the best deal and as Nasri is refusing to sign a new contract at Arsenal, taking the money now and re-investing looks the best option.

The problem Wenger has is that his transfer kitty is limited until the sales of Cesc Fabregas, who’s absence from Arsenal’s Asia tour suggests the Barcelona deal will be done this week, and Samir Nasri go through.

While Liverpool dally on upping their £15m offer to the £20m Aston Villa want – it is believed £18m will land Downing – Wenger may have to stall his move for Bolton’s Gary Cahill and instead use the funds on Downing.

Arsenal are close to completing a £10m deal for Lille’s Ivorian striker Gervinho and the man who scored 18 goals in 43 assists would certainly be an asset to Arsenal.

The imminent exits of Nasri and Fabregas would have a huge impact on the service Gervinho, Robin van Persie and Marouane Chamakh will receive next season and Downing has been highlighted as the man that can fill the void.

Downing was fifth in the Premier League assists table last season with nine and weighed in with seven goals.

Many are astonished by the transfer fee Downing is attracting but Ashley Young can better Downing’s season by just two assists after his seven league goals, and £18m seems the right price for Downing in a transfer market that is booming.

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