Rafa Benitez received an unexpected boost when two of his summer targets were omitted from their club tour so that they could find new clubs. Arsenal left Carl Jenkinson, 25, and Kieran Gibbs, 27, at home while the rest of the first team squad went on tour, save for those internationals still on their summer vacations.
Both full backs are surplus to requirements and rarely appeared for Arsenal last season. Jenkinson had been on loan at West Ham but they declined to take up the opportunity to sign him permanently while a move to Crystal Palace last summer fell through due to the player’s wage demands.
Gibbs meanwhile, is wanted by Watford but they too baulked at a fee of £15m and £75k per week. Wages are the biggest hurdle to overcome although for both players, it comes down to a decision whether or not they are prepared to spend another year in the wilderness and walk away from Arsenal on a free transfer.
Benitez is desperate to add depth to his defence which despite winning the Championship title last season, was still vulnerable and in the Premier League, that weakness will not be easily forgiven.