Arsenal begin negotiations to sign Barcelona striker
Arsenal are exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona striker Pedro Rodriguez.
According to reports in Spain, the north London club have made initial contact with the player's representatives as they evaluate the chances of a deal being struck this summer.
Pedro's future at the Nou Camp has been a source of much speculation for months, despite him having signed a new contract that expires in 2019 at the start of June.
That deal was believed to have retained the striker's buy-out figure at an eye-watering £110million, although such contracts tend to be put in place simply to help strengthen the selling club's position should they decide to cash in on the player.
Pedro cut a frustrated figure for much of last season as he struggled to secure regular starts. He scored 11 goals as Barcelona won La Liga and the Champions League, but was all too often behind Luis Suarez and Neymar in the queue for a starting place.
Liverpool have also been linked with a move for the 27-year-old - who has won 18 titles during his time in Catalonia - but if a deal were to be struck, it would seem that Arsenal's chances would be greater simply by virtue of their superior financial resources.
Arsenal's interest in the player is understandable - they are in the market for a new forward, and Pedro undoubtedly has the class and experience they are seeking as they attempt to launch a sustained challenge for the Premier League title next season.
But, for all that, the chances of a deal being done before the end of the summer appear slim, unless the player himself demands a move.
Meanwhile, Sparta Prague are considering a move for Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky.
The Czech Republic international only recently signed a new contract at the Emirates Stadium, but Sparta - his first club - have gone public with their desire for him to make an emotional return.
Daniel Kretinsky, Sparta's major shareholder, said: “I’d love him to come and for it to happen soon, but I don’t want to put uncomfortable pressure on Tomas. It’s up to him, I understand that leaving Arsenal isn’t easy."
Meanwhile, former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton fears new Arsenal signing Petr Cech could struggle to display the form he showed at Chelsea unless Arsenal's defence improves.
Cech is Arsenal's sole summer signing so far, and has been widely hailed as one of the best in Wenger's reign at the club.
But Shilton believes Cech will need Arsenal's defence to step up in front of him to offer him maximum protection.
He said: "I have always rated him, he is a top quality good goalkeeper, but I've just thought on a few occasions that when Chelsea struggled, he struggled a bit sometimes.
"He was playing behind a really good defence at Chelsea and that gives you confidence week in, week out but if he doesn’t get that cover we will see if he has that top quality and that confidence to perform."