Arsène Wenger is confident that Arsenal will complete the signings of the Nigeria youth internationals Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze before the transfer deadline on Monday. But the manager suggested he would make no senior additions to supplement the purchase of Mohamed Elneny as the club’s injury situation had improved significantly.
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Wenger goes into Saturday’s FA Cup tie at home to Burnley with only Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere as long-term casualties. Francis Coquelin is back in contention weeks ahead of schedule after a knee problem and Tomas Rosicky also back from knee trouble. Danny Welbeck has returned to full training, having been out since April of last year with a knee injury, but he will need a few more weeks before he is competitive again.
Wenger said that David Ospina would start in goal against Burnley and he is expected to give Elneny, who joined two weeks ago from Basel, his full debut. Per Mertesacker is suspended after his red card in the home loss to Chelsea last Sunday.
“The team news is quite good because we have many players in training,” Wenger said. “The only ones who are off training are Wilshere and Cazorla. We have 23 players in training, although not everybody is fully competitive. Welbeck still needs some training but he is back in full training.
“Will there be any other business? No, not at the moment. As I told you, I have 23 players in training, plus two is 25 and unless people go out, we are not on the verge of bringing anyone in.”
Nwakali, an attacking midfielder, was the player of the Under-17 World Cup in Chile last year, which Nigeria won, and at which his team-mate Chukwueze, a winger, also impressed. They are part of the Diamond Football Academy in Nigeria.
“The talks are progressing well,” Wenger said. “Do I expect them to be done this month? Yes. Of course, there are work permit issues and medical issues, because they have to take medicals. But it is progressing well.
“We identified Nwakali as the player of the tournament, basically, and as a top player. We will see if we can manage to get it over the line during this transfer period. [If we can], we will do it. Chukwueze is [signing] as well.”