Arsenal may not be in the Champions League this season, but they could still be impacted by what happened in the group phase.
Following matchday six, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 of the 16 teams who have reached the knockout stages are confirmed – with one of Atalanta and Villarreal to complete the lineup on Thursday afternoon.
Interestingly, one of the teams who will be in next Monday’s last-16 draw is Ligue 1 outfit Lille and this might be bad news for Mikel Arteta and Edu heading into the January transfer window.
It’s no secret that Arsenal have been linked with midfield reinforcements especially as Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny could be unavailable for up to a month because of Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Of the many central midfielders linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in January – which includes former Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum – Renato Sanches’ name is one that refuses to go away.
In fact, the Portugal international has confirmed the Gunners’, as well as AC Milan’s, interest in him.
“Milan and Arsenal are maybe interested, I spoke with my agent about it but I can’t say any more,” he told L’Equipe, via Get French Football News. “I just know I’m ready.
“If the offer arrives I’ll evaluate it. Milan are a great club – historic, classy. I really like them.”
With Sanches’ contract with Lille expiring in the summer of 2023, there has been talk of the French side cashing in on the midfielder in January should they receive a suitable offer.
Furthermore, according to Telefoot, Arsenal have been given the green light to sign the 24-year-old next month in a deal that will cost them €30million (£25.6m).
With that said, could Lille’s participation in the Champions League after Christmas hand the north London outfit a new problem when it comes to a potential deal for Sanches?
After all, if he was to swap France for England and join Arsenal he would be giving up the chance to play in Europe altogether during the second half of the season.
As a result, Arsenal manager Arteta and technical director Edu could face further issues when it comes to sealing this £25.6m deal as Milan are also interested.
On the topic of the January transfer window, the Spaniard did reveal the club’s stance on what could happen next month amid talk of completing up to three deals.
“We are in discussions [internally],” he said in the pre-Manchester United press conference. “We have talks every week about it, how we can improve the team, and what things can happen in the January transfer window that can affect our squad.
“As you know, we have certain players with a little bit of uncertainty in the summer so we have to plan what’s going to happen now and what’s going to happen in the summer.
“A lot has to be done, we know and we don’t expect big things to be happening, but we need to be very alert in the market to see if we can improve the team.
“We have to be prepared because things can happen and injuries can arise in this period of the season and you have to be prepared and planned.”