Wednesday 29 January 2020

French trio top targets for Asene Wenger's summer spree

There is now little hope of Alexis Sanchez agreeing a new contract. Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
There is now little hope of Alexis Sanchez agreeing a new contract. Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is pushing forward with an overhaul of his attacking options in preparation for major Arsenal departures this summer, with potential deals for Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Lemar all still being worked on.

There is now little hope of Alexis Sanchez (right) agreeing a new contract amid interest from at least five major European clubs but there is also doubt over other attacking players, notably Mesut Ozil and Lucas Perez, but to a lesser extent Oliver Giroud.

Wenger has been working on possible replacements and his attitude to selling key players will be shaped largely by his success in pursuing other creative talent.

Lacazette can play across the front three and, with 91 goals in his last three seasons for Lyon, would be the most direct replacement for Sanchez.

Arsenal had a bid of around £30m turned down last summer and he would now cost £60m.

Mbappe has emerged as the most sought-after young striker in world football and, while he is valued at a potential world record fee and is of competing interest to Real Madrid, Arsenal hope that their promise of regular first-team opportunity would represent a more attractive step at this stage of his development.

They would also like to sign his team-mate, Thomas Lemar, a 21-year-old France international who scored 19 goals from left midfield last season in the Monaco team that won the French league and reached the semi-final of the Champions League.

Monaco would prefer to keep Lemar and Mbappe for another year and, while Lacazette is likely to move, he has said he wants a Champions League club.

Arsenal have already added former Schalke left-back Saed Kolasinac to the squad this summer - ahead of the probable departure of Kieran Gibbs - and, although Wenger does have a sizeable net budget this summer, he does not want to add to the overall numbers.

It means that any new signings are likely to be followed by departures.

Arsenal's clear preference will be to sell Sanchez abroad amid competing interest from Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Chelsea.

There have been no formal offers so far for Ozil and the situations of both Perez and Giroud will depend on what sort of assurances Wenger can provide about their likely involvement next season.

Arsenal will be open to offers for Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy, while the futures of Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny are also in doubt following respective loan spells at Bournemouth and Roma but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to extend his contract.

Talks are also ongoing with Arsenal's backroom staff and, following reassurances to Wenger about the scope of the role, a new football operations position is being created.

Candidates for a sporting director role have been assessed but the title of any new appointment is likely to be reflect 'operations' rather than a more wide-ranging 'director of football' or 'sporting director'. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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