Premier League • England

Arsenal midfield target stalls contract talks with dream transfer firmly fixed in mind

Renato Sanches is delaying contract talks with Lille while he explores opportunities to take the next step in his career – potentially to the Premier League – according to reports.

Sanches has successfully rebuilt his career with Lille after difficult spells with Bayern Munich and Swansea City. He now seems better prepared for Premier League football than he was when he went on loan to the Welsh club.

Therefore, the midfielder has been linked with a transfer to Arsenal, Liverpool or Wolves. Of the three, the Gunners have been the most frequently mentioned.

They need to upgrade their options in midfield after offloading Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan this month. Furthermore, Mohamed Elneny is out of contract at the end of the season.

Sanches would be a high-quality reinforcement at the Emirates Stadium. And with his contract with Lille expiring in 2023, there is optimism a deal can be done for interested parties.

According to SportItalia, the French champions have now approached Sanches to offer him a new contract. But the 24-year-old has put talks on hold because he is ready for a new adventure.

Specifically, he is thinking of a move to AC Milan, who are interested in a double deal with Lille for him and his centre-back teammate Sven Botman.

However, the report by Alfredo Pedulla confirms there are also Premier League clubs tracking him.

Mislav Orsic wanted by Arsenal and Burnley

Mislav Orsic is wanted by Arsenal and Burnley this January

Pedulla does not name any of them. But there have been enough reports in the recent past to get an idea of who they may be.

Should Sanches decline a new contract with Lille, it would make sense for them to sell him in the summer. By then, he will have just 12 months left on his contract.

Lille to cash in on Renato Sanches?

Renato Sanches Lille November 2021

It would therefore be their last chance to sell him for a decent fee before he could negotiate a free transfer away from the club in 2023. Even now, his market value will be dropping.

There is thus a temptation for many clubs to try their luck for the Portuguese ace.

Milan appear to be in the lead for now, but Arsenal and other English suitors should be watching developments.

When will Salah, Mahrez, Mane and the rest of AFCON Premier League players return?

Arsenal receive Serie A transfer update

While battling an Italian side for Renato Sanches, Arsenal are also trying to take a striker from another Serie A club.

Finding a new striker is a priority for Arsenal. They could lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah this year. The former may pay the price for discipline issues, while the latter duo are out of contract at the end of the season.

Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to take Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina to the Premier League. However, they face competition from Juventus in Italy.

Dusan Vlahovic, Fiorentina striker in Serie A action against Salernitana

Now, Fiorentina general manager Joe Barone has confirmed English clubs are in contact to take Vlahovic. However, the transfer hinges on the Serbia international.

Barone told La Nazione: “Some English clubs have made contact, but there is no agreement yet.

“We are open [to selling] but there can’t be a deal unless someone [Vlahovic] agrees.”

Therefore, it appears Arsenal – and other clubs – may still have work to do to convince Vlahovic to join them.

Reports have hinted that his preference is to pick Juventus should they make a suitable offer. The likes of Arsenal are playing catch-up, then.

Still, Barone is yet to hear from Vlahovic’s representatives about what he wants to do.

He added: “I haven’t heard anything from them. I had asked Vlahovic’s agent to be clear, but I haven’t heard anything, no contacts at all.”

READ MORETwo Arsenal players ‘free to leave’ as Arteta plots specific clear-out; Prem star to replace them