It already happened once during this transfer window. Arsenal were all set to capture Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid, with the Argentine professing his desire to move to the London club. Then enter Napoli, flush with cash from the €64.5m sale of Edinson Cavani. While the Gunners had time to up their bid over the €30m mark, they hesitated too long, and Napoli snapped up the striker for a reported €37m.
Now it seems history might be repeating itself. Media outlets in Italy are reporting that the partenopei have entered the race for defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo. The Brazilian joined Bayern Munich from Hoffenheim in January 2011, but in Pep Guardiola’s regime has become superfluous to requirements. Now Bayern are claiming interest from clubs in England, Germany, Italy and Russia.
While it’s likely that the German giants are simply trying to drum up more interest in Luiz Gustavo, one of the more solid rumors is that Arsenal are in for him. But right now, Napoli have more money — and quite possibly, more need. Just a cursory glance at Napoli’s preseason matches would reveal defensive disarray, a problem present last season and amplified by the departure of Hugo Campagnaro this summer. Although Valon Behrami has blossomed in Naples into an impressive presence in the midfield, most Serie A observers agree that the club is looking for a new man to play alongside the Swiss. Spending some of the Cavani cash on Luiz Gustavo would certainly not be out of the question.
Considering the reception giving Higuain when he took to the pitch during the Emirates Cup a couple weeks back, it’s safe to say that Arsenal supporters do not appreciate having players snatched out from under their noses. The Gunners have yet to woo Luiz Gustavo in the same manner as they did the Argentine, but with Arsenal yet to make any significant moves during the transfer window, at this point, losing out on any rumored acquisitions is going to hurt. If Napoli sign the Brazilian, could we be seeing the beginning of a new cross-border rivalry?