Premier League • England

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may shatter Arteta transfer dream in Arsenal race for top-class Osimhen alternative

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the badges of AC Milan and Arsenal

Could Zlatan Ibrahimovic have a decisive influence of Arsenal's pursuit of Viktor Gyokeres?

Arsenal’s hopes of signing Viktor Gyokeres from Sporting Lisbon in the summer could reportedly be thwarted by former Gunners target Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah scoring just eight and six goals respectively in all competitions this season, Arsenal are likely to pursue a new centre-forward in the summer.

TEAMtalk exclusively revealed earlier this month that Arsenal are leading the race to bring Napoli striker Victor Osimhen to the Premier League in the summer, having nudged ahead of London rivals Chelsea, but will face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain as the French club prepares for life after Kylian Mbappe.

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To that end, TEAMtalk reported that Arsenal are also tracking Gyokeres as a potential alternative to Osimhen, with the club convinced that they are an attractive option to the world’s best players under Mikel Arteta.

After emerging as one of the leading goalscorers in the Championship for Coventry City, Gyokeres has excelled since arriving in Portugal last summer, registering 36 goals in 39 appearances for Sporting Lisbon.

Gyokeres is poised to be one of the most in-demand forwards in the summer, with Italian giants AC Milan among the clubs set to be among Arsenal’s chief rivals in the race for the Swedish international’s signature.

And Milan could have an ace up their sleeve in the form of Ibrahimovic, Gyokeres’ boyhood idol, who returned to the San Siro as a senior adviser under the club’s American owners in December – six months after bringing the curtain down on his glittering playing career.

It is not uncommon for clubs to call upon the help of club legends in their pursuit of new signings, with TEAMtalk reporting last month that Chelsea had deployed Osimhen’s childhood hero Didier Drogba – as well as former midfielder John Obi Mikel – to convince the Nigerian to come to Stamford Bridge.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to sway Viktor Gyokeres Arsenal decision?

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Ibrahimovic famously almost signed for Arsenal as a youngster during the Arsene Wenger era, but rejected the club’s interest after turning down the offer of a two-week trial.

Appearing on Piers Morgan’s Uncensored programme on TalkTV last year, Ibrahimovic said: “When I was young, I had a lot of interest from a lot of clubs and one of them was Arsenal.

I spoke with Wenger. I came in his office and we spoke and he was like: ‘What do you want?

“He wanted to get to know me, to feel me, because I think he is a type of person [who] doesn’t just buy the player – he wants to know what he is buying.

“In the end, he had an Arsenal shirt with Number 9 and said: ‘We want you to come and do a trial for two weeks.’

“Everything was good until he said: ‘You come and do a trial’.

“I was looking at him – obviously he is Wenger, I am nobody at that moment – [and] I said: ‘I don’t do trials.’

Her was like: ‘What do you mean?’

“‘I don’t do trials, either you want me or you don’t want me, or else why am I here?’

“That was me, but it was not to play a game, it was me. [Wenger said]: ‘No, but you have to come and do a trial.’

“[I replied]: ‘No, no, you don’t understand: I don’t do trials.’

“That was it, I never went to Arsenal.”

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