FanZone's Chelsea blogger John Baines says Arsenal must be more ruthless in the transfer market if they are to sign elite players this summer.
Let's cut to the chase. It's now a matter of when and not if Wayne Rooney leaves Manchester United. Even if the bridges have yet to be completely burnt, the fires are raging and at present there seems little will from either player or club to douse them with water.
Sensing the chance to end their fruitless summer-long pursuit for a striker, Chelsea have already officially confirmed they've had a bid turned down for the 27-year-old, with plenty of newspaper speculation suggesting Arsenal are also keen to sign the England hitman.
Arsene Wenger has so far reportedly placed offers for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez as the Gunners seek to strengthen their forward stocks, and certainly Rooney would give Arsenal the genuine quality, desire and experience they've lacked in recent seasons.
Admittedly 2012/13 was far from his finest campaign but one slightly off year is not unequivocal evidence that he's hit terminal decline. Often a change can be as good as a rest, and if motivated by the right man in the right surroundings, a Wayne Rooney with the edge back to his game would be a massive asset to any club.
At 27, Rooney believes he's at the peak of his powers and whoever does win the race for his signature will be almost guaranteed at least three or four years of sterling service. Based on an ineffective past 12 months, a projected fee of over £30million may seem slightly high, but that outlay will be justified if the switch comes off and Rooney delivers.
Ordinarily players approaching 28 aren't that appealing to the very long-term thinking of the Arsenal manager and board, but they purchased Santi Cazorla at a similar age last season and very few would view that coup as anything other than a success.
Occasionally you need a player to come in and make an immediate impact as opposed to someone who will be a great buy over a decade after a few years of integration - and in Rooney, Arsenal at least hypothetically have the opportunity to seal such a deal.
But does Wenger have the bottle and conviction to identify a target and get his man? Somehow, I seriously doubt it.
Nobody quite knows what's happened to Higuain, and it may be that Wenger has identified an alternative option ahead of the Argentinian ace, but already Arsenal's summer transfer activity smacks of being confused and indecisive.
After Jose Mourinho declared his interest in securing Rooney, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Blues won't let up until he has signed on the dotted line. In theory, there is very little stopping Wenger from doing likewise, but there's no chance Arsenal will go after Rooney with as much determination as their London rivals. Chelsea will make it happen. Arsenal will watch and wait.
With Manchester United sure to drive a very hard bargain, it may be that Chelsea will end up paying over the odds for Rooney. However, Chelsea will know that they'll not only improve themselves, but weaken their main title rivals too, and when you've genuine aspirations to win the Premier League title, such moves can make all the difference.
If Arsenal don't sign Rooney then they've got a ready-made excuse for not doing so. Wenger will cite Chelsea's financial muscle as the reason he got away, but the Frenchman recently admitted the club could afford his wages and the fee shouldn't be an issue given we keep hearing about how much of a kitty they've got at their disposal.
Talks of Arsenal interest may only be that, and even though I believe Rooney could be a great addition, Wenger might not view him as the right man for the job.
But regardless, the scenario remains the same. A sufficient bid for Luis Suarez could see the Liverpool man on his way to The Emirates, whilst Higuain is still readily available should he be the preferred choice.
So there are at least three viable candidates to fill a forward role at Arsenal, all of whom are available and attainable if Wenger and his board crack on and conduct their business in a ruthless manner.
Chelsea won't wait in line for Rooney, nor will Real if they want either him or Suarez, yet you do suspect Arsenal will watch and wait politely, replicating the indecisive and ponderous nature which has seen too many players slip through their grasp and cost them dear.
So far this summer Arsenal look to have missed out to Napoli for Julio Cesar and few Gunners fans will need reminding of the debacle which saw Juan Mata pitch up in west London as opposed to north.
This cycle of missing out on the highest calibre players in turn leads to Arsenal's best players leaving to achieve their ambitions elsewhere, and somewhere, sooner rather or later, that dynamic has to be reversed.
The intention to succeed should be bred within a club from top to bottom, and accepting - or aiming - for second best when recruiting will only manifest itself on the pitch.
For too long Wenger has talked the talk without walking the walk, but at this moment he needs to show the minerals to aim high and get, rather than staying low and making do.
If the club's hierarchy and Wenger have really got the money, intentions and aspirations to return Arsenal to the top, then they must act fast to make the signings they need.
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