Former Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez, made last-gasp bid to take Francis Coquelin to Napoli but had his nose turned up, reports according to Express have revealed.
Maybe buoyed by the fact that the midfielder was yet undecided about signing a new deal, the Napoli manager reportedly made a pre-contract offer to Coquelin towards the last moments of the transfer window but was told where to stuff it as the young Frenchman looks set to put pen to paper on a new four-year deal.
It has been a whirlwind seven weeks for the 23-year old Coquelin who has gone from seating on the bench in the Championship to looking forward to having Berbatov in his pocket in the Champions League. Arsenal have won six of the seven games in which the bustling warrior has started and he was even one of the best players on the pitch in that one defeat at Southampton.
With his influence in the team now widely acknowledged by all, Wenger has made sure that he agrees to the new offer made to him by keeping him in the starting line-up ahead of ‘veteran’ Mattieu Flamini ever since both started as a pair for the first time in the win against West Ham at Upton Park, ensuring he does not look elsewhere for his long-term future.
Thinking back at the reaction of gooners to that teamsheet before the West Ham game, how many persons would have thought that the club would be pulling out all stops to prevent Coquelin from being shipped out to the Serie A? He looked dead and dried after loans spells to Lorient and Freiburg saw him return to the squad still as nothing more than a fringe player but injuries to regular players and a change in his own attitude sees him now listed as one of the first names on a Match Day teamsheet.
The flair of more attacking players means he is yet to be handed an official man-of-the-match award but what he has done since his resurgence into the team has made him indispensable and in many ways, the invaluable man of every Arsenal match.
Napoli’s bid could be the first of many to come in the summer, even if he does sign the proposed four year deal. Many other clubs would want to test Arsene’s resolve to keep him in the summer, especially if another defensive midfielder were to arrive.
For the rest of this campaign, Coquelin will remain the first choice holding midfielder even when Arteta and Wilshere return and if he is able to convincingly hold his own against both, and perhaps play a major role in the claim of some title by June, it might be Pep Guardiola or Ancelotti calling next.
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