Premier League • England

Arsenal take big steps towards classy centre-back signing but facing summer wait

Sporting defender Ousmane Diomande, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic

Sporting defender Ousmane Diomande and Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic

Arsenal have reportedly been in touch with the family of highly-rated Sporting defender Ousmane Diomande as they eye a deal in 2024.

Interest is known to be growing in the 20-year-old, with London rivals Chelsea also said to have put their full focus on a deal for the Ivory Coast international.

Diomande is reported to have a release clause worth around £70million in his Sporting contract, a deal which runs out in June 2027.

The central defender has featured 21 times in all competitions so far this season, scoring twice and also providing an assist.

He has only been at Sporting a year after joining from Danish outfit FC Midtjylland in January 2023 and has now made 38 appearances in total for his new club.

Diomande has also formed a strong centre-back partnership with long-time Premier League target Goncalo Inacio, who remains on the radars of the likes of Liverpool and the Gunners.

He is expected to play a major role for his country in the upcoming African Cup of Nations, which will be played in his homeland.

Mikel Arteta wants another centre-back on board to compete with first-choice Arsenal duo William Saliba and Gabriel as there clearly remains an issue with the back-up options at his disposal.

Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior can also play as central defenders but there is a drop off in quality when either Saliba or Gabriel miss out.

After back-to-back losses against West Ham and Fulham, the Gunners now sit fourth in the Premier League table but are only two points off leaders Liverpool.

Arteta’s men are back in action on Sunday when they face the Reds in a blockbuster FA Cup third round tie at The Emirates.

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